SSFA aims to establish Singapore as global sustainable-finance hub
By Anna Ross
Aimed at elevating Singapore to the status of the leading sustainable finance hub in the world, SSFA will be co-chaired by HSBC’s Wong Kee Joo and BlackRock’s Deborah Ho, with a multi-sector committee overseeing key initiatives
The Singapore Sustainable Finance Association (SSFA) was launched on 24 January under the auspices of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Association of Banks Singapore (ABS). The SSFA was first announced in June 2023 by President Tharman Shanmugaratnam, then chairman of MAS, and is intended to be a cross-sectoral industry organisation to establish Singapore as a worldwide centre for sustainable finance.
Co-chairs for the first term are Wong Kee Joo, CEO of HSBC Singapore, and Deborah Ho, country head of Singapore and regional head of Southeast Asia at BlackRock. Permanent members of the committee are Gillian Tan, MAS’ chief sustainability officer and assistant managing director for development, and Ong-Ang Ai Boon, the director of the ABS. SSFA will be supported by a team under Kavitha Menon, director of SSFA.
A committee of C-Suite executives from financial institutions, non-financial sector firms, and academia, will oversee the governance of the SSFA, its mission and initiatives. More than 150 guests attended the inauguration.
Financial institutions are seen to be an important part in helping their clients achieve net-zero, conserve biodiversity, and increase climate resilience. Stakeholder cooperation is required to mobilise funds and offer creative ideas to close the net-zero finance gap in order to address these complex issues.
Kavitha Menon, director of SSFA, said: “SSFA is first and foremost an industry body created by the industry for the industry. We have been established with the mandate to build a vibrant, trusted, and inclusive ecosystem for sustainable finance. We are cross-sectoral, and our membership is open to all organisations that have an active interest in advancing sustainable finance practices in Singapore and beyond. We aim to be the platform where our members can collaborate and develop shared solutions for the collective challenges that our societies face today.”
As one of the major financial hubs in Asia Pacific, Singapore is in a pole position to use its advantages to help the region make the shift to a net-zero economy. Four major strategic goals have been outlined by SSFA, including the creation of workstreams focusing on five important areas: taxonomy, natural capital and biodiversity, blended finance, carbon markets, and transition finance.
SSFA aims to encourage the establishment of Singapore’s best sustainable finance practices, accelerate the growth of the ecosystem, and foster cooperation between the non-financial and financial sectors to speed up Singapore’s shift to a low-carbon economy, and the region’s sustainable economic growth.
Tan from MAS said: “The SSFA will build on the groundbreaking work of the Green Finance Industry Taskforce and galvanise industry players and stakeholders in the broader ecosystem to shape the future of sustainable finance. The MAS looks forward to working closely with the SSFA in developing Singapore as a resilient, innovative and trusted centre for sustainable finance.”
The SSFA is a major step towards Singapore’s goal of becoming a regional hub for sustainable finance, according to BlackRock’s Ho. She said: “The low-carbon transition is an incredibly complex shift which will require close collaboration among governments, financial institutions and the real economy.”
HSBC’s Wong and Tan from MAS both noted that the launch of SSFA is a significant milestone and pivotal moment in Singapore’s progressive journey towards a net-zero future. Wong commented: “Tackling climate change effectively requires a whole-of-economy transformation and united effort from everyone—both the financial and non-financial sectors.”
ABS director Ong-Ang emphasised ABS’s dedication to working with SSFA to strengthen sustainable financing initiatives. She said: “ABS has been facilitating multi-stakeholder initiatives in the banking sector to promote sustainable financing since the publication of the ABS Guidelines on Responsible Financing in 2015. As banks roll out their net zero plans, ABS looks forward to collaborating with the SSFA to build capacity, innovate and share best practices to enhance these efforts.”
The SSFA encourages organisations to join the association through its website. Members will be involved in workstreams, forums and events on sustainable finance, and receive updates on local, regional, and international government policies and initiatives.
SSFA partners with the Singapore Business Federation, the Singapore FinTech Association and the Investment Management Association of Singapore, among other organisations. Member institutions include DBS, OCBC, Prudential, Schroders, SGX, Standard Chartered, Temasek, UBS, UOB, Climate Impact X and Great Eastern Life.
Keywords: Ssfa, Singapore Finance Hub, HSBC, BlackRock, Wong Kee Joo, Deborah Ho
Institution: The Singapore Sustainable Finance Association (SSFA), Monetary Authority Of Singapore (MAS), Association Of Banks Singapore (ABS), HSBC Singapore, BlackRock, Singapore Business Federation, Singapore FinTech Association, Investment Management Association Of Singapore, DBS (Development Bank Of Singapore), OCBC (Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited), Prudential, Schroders, SGX (Singapore Exchange), Standard Chartered, Temasek, UBS, UOB (United Overseas Bank), Climate Impact X, Great Eastern Life
Region: Asia Pacific, APAC
People: Wong Kee Joo, Deborah Ho, Gillian Tan, Ong-Ang Ai Boon, Kavitha Menon, Chia Der Jiun