Sustainability Reporting for Cambodia's Financial Institutions

Panel discussion on sustainability reporting. Photo: Cheth Phay/Oxfam

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Cambodia is now experiencing rapid economic growth which has contributed significantly to poverty reduction. However, rapid economic growth has led to socio-economic challenges as well. Even though poverty has been declining, three critical areas related to reducing inequality including social spending, taxation and labor rights are still issues to be dealt with. Therefore, with rising inequalities and an ongoing financial crisis, today’s financial system and models of economic growth do not serve as solutions to the needs of the economy and society as a whole.

At this crossroads, the banking industry plays an important role in being a mechanism for an inclusive and sustainable economy—from both an environmental and a social point of view. A plausible solution is the inclusive term ‘Environmental, Social and Governance’ (ESG) which encompasses sustainable and responsible investment. An investment strategy of integrating ESG standards into business can benefit investors and society as a whole.

The Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC), aiming to safeguard the future of Cambodia, initiated at set of sustainability finance principles for Cambodia in March 2019, created 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.

Fair Finance Cambodia Coalition, in particular its members Oxfam and Transparency International Cambodia, collaborated with ABC to conduct a two-day sustainability reporting workshop in mid-October for the members of ABC. There were many experts and guest speakers from the Ministry of Environment, National Bank of Cambodia, Deloitte Myanmar, Liberty Shared, H&M Cambodia, ACELDA and UNOHCHR.

Mr. Biju Abraham, Oxfam Head of Program, said during his speech: “This movement of sustainable finance contributes to plans that can be enforced and best practices that can be learned from each other. Identifying opportunities for learning and cooperation can promote a resilient financial system.”

Fair Finance Cambodia, an 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.