As Hong Kong moves to develop itself into a green financial hub, senior executives from major financial institutions and think-tanks last week formally launched a group to advise the government on related policies.
The Hong Kong Green Finance Association (HKGFA) was created to mobilise private sector resources and talent to assist the government to develop green finance policies, and to promote the adoption of green finance and responsible investment principles, Ma Jun, the group’s chairman and president said at the launch on September 21.
The government-backed non-profit organisation marked the occasion with a conference and panel discussions focusing on topics related to green finance. The chief guest was Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
The group did not disclose membership figures or names, but executives from Goldman Sachs, Natixis, and the HK Investment Funds Association were among those who participated in the panel discussions.
Dr. Ma said Hong Kong’s financial industry has to develop a set of green banking guidelines for local lenders, incubate green asset managers, and grow the local green bond market to facilitate the development of green finance.
The industry should also enhance environmental or climate disclosure requirements for listed companies and financial firms, and provide incentives for green finance services, he added.
In her opening remarks at the conference, Ms. Lam described the launch of HKGFA as “most timely” because Hong Kong “is on the road to develop into a hub for green finance”.
She said the city is in a position to capture opportunities from Beijing’s plan to develop environmental protection industries and green technology innovation, by providing green finance funding services.
She said the Hong Kong government’s green bond issuance launched in June is key for the development of green finance in the city, adding that the programme’s upper issuance limit of HK$100 billion (US$12.82 billion) makes it the world’s largest corporate green bond offering.
Ms. Lam also noted that the government provides subsidies and tax relief to encourage local companies to issue green bonds. There were 15 green bond offerings totaling $8 billion in the city in the first half of the year, she said.
Another keynote speaker, Laura M. Cha, said Hong Kong can be a gateway to finance environmental projects in the region, especially as China has an “urgent need” for private funds to develop green infrastructure for its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) programme.
Ms. Cha is chairman of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearings Limited and honorary advisor of HKGFA.
The OBOR project, which was unveiled by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to connect Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa with a vast logistics and transport network involving 65 countries.