Ma Weihua: China Leads in Promoting Sustainable Development and Sustainable Finance

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Ma Weihua: China Leads in Promoting Sustainable Development and Sustainable Finance

Opening Speech at the First Greater Bay Area Green and Sustainable Summit


The high-profile first Greater Bay Area Green and Sustainable Finance Summit (GSFS) was held in Shenzhen on November 16, 2022. The event was co-hosted by the Shenzhen Municipal Financial Regulation Bureau and China Alliance of Social Value Investment (CASVI) and organized by the Shenzhen Green Finance Association and the Shenzhen Finance Institute (SFI), the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, with Sichuan Yibin Wuliangye Group Limited as the lead sponsor.


The summit, with the theme of “Greening for a Better Greater Bay Area, Financing for a Sustainable Future,” had a main forum and four parallel sub-forums. Combining leading ideas and actions, it gathered more than 100 representatives from renowned sustainable finance organizations at home and abroad to share their forward-looking reflections and practices on sustainable finance and exchange opinions. Ma Weihua, Member of SDG Impact Global Steering Group, Chairperson of CASVI and Chairperson of SusallWave Digital Technology, delivered an opening speech at the summit. The following content is compiled based on his remarks.


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Your Excellency Deputy Secretary-general of Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government Yao Ren, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury of HKSAR Christopher Hui Ching-yu, UNDP Resident Representative for China Beate Trankmann, Co-chair of the UK-China Green Finance Taskforce and the 692nd Lord Mayor of the City of London Sir William Russell, friends on-site and online,


Good morning!


In implementing the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress, friends from across China joined the first Greater Bay Area Green and Sustainable Finance Summit online and on-site to discuss our response to global challenges, particularly the climate crisis, and to explore how sustainable finance can drive sustainable development. This action itself is to implement the guiding principles and promote high-quality development, and attendees at the summit have shown remarkable spirit. Therefore, on behalf of the co-organizers, allow me to express my warm welcome and heartfelt thanks to the leaders, guests and partners!


Pursuing sustainable development has become a global consensus in the face of changes unseen in a century: the ongoing pandemic, abnormal climate events, ecological crises, geopolitical conflicts, inflation, worsened poverty, and economic recession. As Ms. Beate Trankmann said, the 17 sustainable development goals made by the United Nations in 2015 are undergoing a holistic, substantial setback. UN Secretary-general Guterres said at the G20 Summit that billions of people are struggling; hundreds of millions are facing hunger and even famine. Among these crises, climate change, in my view, is the most threatening, as it is exacerbating the wealth imbalance under the COVID-19 pandemic and further intensifying global inequality.


I always think of the assessment made by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this April that the global temperature will be 4℃ higher than pre-industrial levels by the end of this century, following the current reduction rates. What does that mean? According to the opinions of 104 scientists released by IPCC in April 2019, global warming of 2℃ above pre-industrial levels will likely increase sea levels by more than two meters and lead to the extinction of 45% of marine life and 38% of inland species, causing biodiversity to collapse. To limit global temperature rise to 1.5℃, we must peak carbon emissions by 2025 and reduce them by 43% by 2030. Even to keep global warming at around 2℃, we need to peak by 2025 and reduce by 25% by 2030. These are demanding tasks that bring us unprecedented challenges.


I always think of the assessment made by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this April that the global temperature will be 4℃ higher than pre-industrial levels by the end of this century, following the current reduction rates. What does that mean? According to the opinions of 104 scientists released by IPCC in April 2019, global warming of 2℃ above pre-industrial levels will likely increase sea levels by more than two meters and lead to the extinction of 45% of marine life and 38% of inland species, causing biodiversity to collapse. To limit global temperature rise to 1.5℃, we must peak carbon emissions by 2025 and reduce them by 43% by 2030. Even to keep global warming at around 2℃, we need to peak by 2025 and reduce by 25% by 2030. These are demanding tasks that bring us unprecedented challenges.


Moreover, China has brought forward “rural revitalization” and “common prosperity” to consolidate its achievements in poverty alleviation. It is making ongoing efforts for the sustainable development of the world.


In this process, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area should take the lead. Here we have “one country, two systems” and three customs territories, our unique advantages, making it the most economically vibrant bay area in China and the rest of the world. Developing the Greater Bay Area is among the major plans made by the CPC Central Committee, which expects the area to become a model of China’s high-quality development. The term “green and sustainable development” appeared 25 times in the plans the Central Committee issued for the area. With such great expectations placed on it, the Greater Bay Area should, and will, become a highlight of China’s green and sustainable development.


In fact, we are at the forefront in China. 20 years ago, when CSR was still a vague concept for most Chinese, the Chinese Federation for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was established in Shenzhen by China Merchants Bank, Vanke, TCL, and multinational companies that introduced CSR into China. Five years ago, also in Shenzhen, with the support of Director He, 77 organizations released the Xiangmihu Consensus on social impact investing. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the first in China to make ESG disclosure a prerequisite for listing, is also the country’s largest marketplace for offshore bond trading. On top of that, our green finance and inclusive finance indicators, such as green credit, green bonds and green insurance, are among the best in China. As mentioned by Secretary-general Yao, the Shenzhen Municipal Government’s issuance of retail RMB green bonds in Hong Kong has provided a demonstration for the country.


The Greater Bay Area has made remarkable contributions to delivering sustainable development goals. To meet today’s challenges, however, we need to redouble our efforts to direct more funds to sustainable development and to align sustainable finance for sustainable development.


What is sustainable finance? It is a concept we mention a lot. To my knowledge, sustainable finance refers to financial services that benefit society and the environment and support sustainable development. It includes inclusive finance, green finance, responsible investing, ESG investing and impact investing, among others.


The exploration of sustainable finance began in the 1920s. Starting from moral investing to bottom-line investing, responsible investing, ESG investing, impact investing and today’s sustainable finance, we have agreed: Sustainable finance is the only solution to fundamentally change the extensive growth mode, to balance economic, social and environmental benefits, to align economic values with social values, and to deliver innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development.


The Greater Bay Area should therefore continue to lead in sustainable finance. It is the most crucial topic in promoting sustainable development and will be discussed at this summit. This subject includes how we can further grasp the guiding principles of the 20th Party Congress, how we can consciously understand the significance of green and sustainable development, and how we can do more to promote green and sustainable development. It also requires us to use technological revolution and financial innovation to guide more green finance tools and products for green and sustainable development, as well as to study creating a financial ecosystem to facilitate healthier, longer-term sustainable development.


We hope experts and scholars will contribute your concern and wisdom to this significant subject. I wish the summit great success!


Thank you!


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