Financing the sustainable development goals to close the 2.5 trillion gap: UNDP panel

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On day two of the Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development 2017 held at Marina Bay Sands Singapore, one afternoon panel looked at the issue of financing the the sustainable development goals to close the 2.5 trillion gap. It considered factors from fintech to green initiatives.

Moderated by David Galipeau (Chief Impact Officer of UNDP SDG Impact Finance), panelists included:

  • Kiatchai Sophastienphong, Vice Minister for Finance, Thailand
  • Joe Seunghyun Cho, Chief Executive Officer, LATTICE80
  • Mikkel Larsen, Managing Director and Co-Chair of Sustainability Council, DBS Bank
  • Alison Eskesen, Director, Asia Pacific, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth

Below, we share some brief excerpts from the discussion:

Joe Seunghyun Cho, Chief Executive Officer, LATTICE80

  • We see the need to gap the public and private sector to drive SDGs. With our fintech hub LATTICE80, we brought together startups, corporates, and government/regulators.
  • Fintech innovation is not new, but it’s become trendy. The public needs educated to understand it better. Many startups and corporates still don’t know what the SDGs are, but many are unknowingly working towards fulfilling them.
  • Blockchain is a new technology that could connect and democratise the finance world in the same way that the internet did.
  • Banks can work with fintechs to support SDG achievement instead of only competing.

Kiatchai Sophastienphong, Vice Minister for Finance, Thailand

  • Since 2002, the SDGs implementation has been integrated into Thailand’s 20-year national economic framework.
  • We will be paying social welfare through e-wallets, and leveraging our data to understand how to help the least privileged segments of the population.
  • We worked with 4-5 of Thailand’s largest conglomerates to set up 77 social enterprises – one for each of the country’s provinces. Funding for these initiatives enjoy tax benefits.

Mikkel Larsen, Managing Director and Co-Chair of Sustainability Council, DBS Bank

  • Financial institutions can make an enourmous impact on what initiatives and projects are financed and carried out. It’s important they include funding for SDGs initiatives. Right now there’s a $3 trillion financing gap.
  • We all recognise that there are big barriers to green projects, so SMEs and small businesses need better access to finance. In ASEAN, we have closed capital markets that means projects that take root in Europe, for example, struggle more here.
  • Technology will have a game-changing impact on the future of green initiatives. In this part of the world, we need to fund green projects in infrastructure, energy, water, telecommunications, smart cities, waste management, food and agriculture, and forestry and land management.
  • Partners need to find incentives to work together on financing and opening up data in order to support SDGs.

Alison Eskesen, Director, Asia Pacific, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth

  • Impact investing requires different bodies working together: government, private sector, and others. We need riskier investors to help accelerate the achievement of SDGs.
  • Partnerships need common goals and the ability to troubleshoot issues.

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