NUS to establish Sustainable and Green Finance Institute to drive green finance education and research

The National University of Singapore (NUS) will be establishing a new research institute that will develop deep research and capabilities in the area of green finance and sustainability with an eye on Asia. The Sustainable and Green Finance Institute (SGFIN) will provide thought leadership and shape sustainability outcomes and policymaking across the real economy and financial sectors.

SGFIN is supported by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and is expected to be fully operational before the end of the year. It will be helmed by NUS Business School faculty members Professor Sumit Agarwal, who will be the Institute’s Managing Director, Associate Professor Johan Sulaeman as its Director and Associate Professor Zhang Weina as its Deputy Director.

SGFIN Managing Director Prof Sumit Agarwal, Low Tuck Kwong Distinguished Professor at the NUS Business School, said, “We are excited to kickstart the Institute and look forward to providing thought leadership in Asia on the increasingly important issue of sustainable and green finance. The Institute will develop a robust set of policy recommendations for regulators that are grounded in rigorous research, build a sustainability and green scorecard for businesses in Asia that is transparent using modern statistical and advanced machine learning tools, and develop educational degree and non-degree programmes to help train the current and next generations of business executives and leaders.”

SGFIN plans to recruit more than a dozen research talents from across the region and around the world to embark on academic and applied research in providing relevant financial solutions and frameworks to address pressing climate and social challenges faced by the world and particularly the region.

Impact Measurement

A key focus of SGFIN is to develop a sustainability and impact measurement and assessment framework. Such a framework would be beneficial in four ways:

  1. To address the lack of consistent and standardised environmental and social data on Singapore and Asian firms;
  2. To allow for more transparent and standardised measurement of companies’ environmental and social performance;
  3. To facilitate a more efficient capital flow to the business entities that aim to create social and environmental values that meet the expectations of both investors and other stakeholders;
  4. To provide tailored developmental and strategic plans for individual business entities through better data analytics and benchmarking to best practices.

Research

In addition to the impact measurement initiative, SGFIN aims to develop rigorous data-driven academic and applied research capabilities with a regional focus in Asia, and particularly Southeast Asia. SGFIN will also provide a collaborative space for researchers actively developing progressive solutions to the growing sustainability issues, not only via the developments of sustainable financial markets and instruments, but also other stimulating, interdisciplinary approaches.

Education and outreach

With Singapore looking to become a leading centre for sustainable and green finance in Asia and beyond, the development of a deep pipeline of talent and leadership in this area is sorely needed.

The Institute’s educational programme aims to bring about a transformation in the awareness, knowledge, skill and mindset of financial and business professionals in tackling social and environmental challenges with innovative financial solutions, rigorous frameworks of investment decisions, and conscientious implementation of business strategies.

SGFIN will focus on two aspects to build capability in the area and to equip companies and financial institutions with multidisciplinary knowledge and skills to integrate sustainability considerations within business strategies, policies, financing and investment decisions:

  1. To develop academic modules as well as degree and non-degree programmes in sustainable and green finance, in collaboration with various faculties at NUS including the NUS Business School; and
  2. To collaborate with and deliver training programmes for stakeholders, including financial institutions, corporations, regulators and policymakers.   

Professor Chen Tsuhan, NUS Deputy President (Research & Technology), said, “There is a global push to develop sustainable outcomes as the growing impact of environmental challenges such as climate change becomes increasingly impossible to ignore. Green finance influences sustainable outcomes and is making a significant impact on financial services worldwide. NUS is thus deeply honoured to partner MAS to nurture thought leaders in this field and develop scientifically-backed insights through data-driven research. The Institute plays a critical part in helping Singapore move towards making green finance a defining feature of its role as an international financial centre. I am confident that SGFIN will drive innovative and progressive financial solutions to address the growing sustainability issues in Asia and the world.”