Mean, lean and green: Finding a new path for sustainable finance

(Eco Business, 3 Feb 2019) Left to themselves, financial markets can create outcomes that are lean and mean, but not always green or inclusive. Charting a course for sustainable finance takes courage and vision, writes the United Nations’ Steven Stone.

I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived in Singapore last week for the 3rd Asia Pacific Ministerial meetings. Expecting the worst, I had images of fearsome sky-scrapers and privatised nature reserves sitting atop exclusive buildings, which indeed now exist in Singapore.

Yet I also found something much more exciting: the legacy of a vision of the city as a garden.

Everywhere, trees. Along the road from the airport, along a parkway. Downtown, along every avenue. Coming out of buildings. Everywhere. Trees that were planted ten, twenty, fifty years ago. Redefining, pleasantly, the concept of an urban jungle.

And then I realised that this far-sighted vision of the future seems not isolated to making the city a more livable space, but also extends to the financial ecosystem.

Though more recently planted, the green shoots were well in evidence. Such as the recent introduction by the Singapore Stock Exchange of mandatory sustainability reporting or their progressive stance on looking at the underlying rules governing asset holdings, via the Network for Greening the Financial System.

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Eco Business, 3 Feb 2019: Mean, lean and green: Finding a new path for sustainable finance