Financial institutions join to fortify responsible finance

Financial institutions in Cambodia are joining in efforts to strengthen sustainable and responsible finance, according to Oxfam in Cambodia.

The goal is to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and inclusive economic development, it said.

A discussion focusing on sustainable finance in Cambodia was held on Wednesday in Phnom Penh, which saw the active participation of representatives of more than 20 financial institutions.

The event was organised by Oxfam in Cambodia and CSR Asia, as part of Oxfam’s “Fair Finance Asia” initiative, which is funded by the Swedish Embassy in Bangkok.

It focused on building an understanding of the latest environmental, social and governance (ESG) related challenges for Cambodian banks, the need for integrating ESG criteria in investment decisions and the role that the financial sector plays in achieving sustainable development.

“There is a need for financial institutions to build up their capacity on environmental, social and governance practices,” the release said.

CSR Asia chairman Richard Welford said financial institutions are key to achieving the SDGs, which the UN goal’s providing a perfect framework for them to report their impact on and contribution to society.

“The large number of participants at this event highlights that Cambodian banks are already taking aspects of sustainable finance seriously, and we hope that this becomes a priority in times to come,” he said.

Oxfam in Cambodia country director Solinn Lim said financial institutions need to take strong steps towards institutionalising ESG criteria in their core business decisions.

“We, the Fair Finance Initiative in Cambodia, would like to extend our support to financial institutions and other public and private stakeholders in enabling the same,” she said.

“This event was a first step towards such collaboration, and now we should strategise on a continued engagement towards building a more sustainable Cambodia.”

Association of Banking in Cambodia (ABC) last week signed two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on “Cooperation of Sustainable Finance” – one with the Ministry of Environment and the National Bank of Cambodia, and another with USAID Cambodia.

The goal of the MoUs are to strengthen and develop sustainable financial cooperation in the banking sector and support environmental protection, natural resource management and climate change in the Kingdom.

During the launch ceremony of the Cambodia Sustainable Finance Principles and its Implementation Guidelines in March, ABC chairman In Channy said the banking sector could make a significant contribution to a more sustainable and prosperous Cambodia by building people’s awareness and leading by example.

“Through the Cambodian Sustainable Finance Principles, we strive to be a success story in Southeast Asia, while also strengthening the trust of external markets and investors in our adherence to international best practices,” he said.

According to a Bloomberg report, more than $600 billion in green bonds have been issued worldwide in the last decade.

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