Speech: Sustainability Reporting for Cambodia's Financial Institutions

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Remarks by Mr. Biju Abraham, Head of Program, Oxfam

“Sustainability Reporting for Cambodia’s Financial Institutions”

16-17 October 2019, Sunway Hotel


H.E Vuthy Deputy Secretary – MoE ( General of the National Council for Sustainable Development)

Mr. Mr. Heng Bomakara, National Bank of Cambodia (Deputy Director General of Banking Supervision, National Bank of Cambodia)

Ms. Lay Rachana – ABC – Association of Banks in Cambodia and Chair Woman for Sustainable Finance Committee)

Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me immense pleasure and honor to be part of this collaborative movement of Sustainable and responsible finance. I call this collaborative because for sustainability it needs multi-stakeholder partnership with 3-C way of working - commitment, consistency and continued communication. We need more discussions, more events and more conversations about on the topics of today’s agenda. Globally there are efforts to align finance with sustainability including policy, regulation and investment practices. We have come here today because we realize that it’s time to align finance with sustainability.

Today Cambodia is experiencing rapid economic growth which has contributed significantly to poverty reduction. However, rapid economic growth led to socio-economic challenges as well. Even though poverty has been reducing, 3 critical areas related to reducing inequality i.e., social spending, tax and labor rights are still challenges to overcome. Therefore with rising inequalities and continued financial crisis, todays financial system and models of economic growth do not serve as solutions to the need of economy and society as a whole.

At this crossroads the banking industry plays an important role in being a mechanism for inclusive and sustainable economy – not only from an environmental point of view but also from social view point. A plausible solution is the inclusive term of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) which encompasses sustainable and responsible investment. Such an investment strategy of integrating Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards into business can benefit investors and society as a whole.

ABC has initiated in safeguarding the future of Cambodia by initiating the Cambodia sustainability finance principles in March 2019. This is with a commitment to prioritize the environment, protect people and preserve cultural heritage by actively assessing, managing, mitigating, offsetting or avoiding potential risks or negative impacts arising from clients’ business activities, standards or practices.

NBC recently also called for more green financing in Cambodia.

Fair Finance Cambodia Coalition especially Oxfam and TI as members has collaborated with ABC to conduct the sustainability report training/workshop for the members of ABC.

This movement of sustainable finance contribute to plans that can be enforced and best practices that can be learnt from each other. So identifying opportunities for learning and cooperation can promote a resilient financial system.

Sustainability with human rights can assure Human and environmental SECURITY. They cannot be compartmentalized but have to be complemented. This only calls for a greater collaboration, commitment, consistency and continued communication on sustainable finance.

The UN guiding principles (UNGP) on Business and human rights provide a framework to identify and demonstrate due diligence to adhere sustainable finance with human rights and mitigate risk. This due diligence pay the way for financial institutions to respect human rights, rebuild trust and promote a resilient financial system that which is accountable.

Fair Finance Cambodia with overarching umbrella of Oxfam in collaboration with NBC, ABC and Fair Finance Coalition will continue this journey of commitment, consistency and continued communication strategy towards adhering to environmental, social and economic sustainability.

I wish you all a great time being educated to connect sustainability with finance objectives and ensure following up with concrete actions. Thank you!

All photos: Transparency International Cambodia