Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Why are we working on Sustainable Finance in Southeast Asia?

Save the ecosystem

Plants, animal and marine species

20% of the world’s plant, animal and marine species are residing in terrestrial, freshwater and mangrove ecosystems which makes Southeast Asia a bio cultural hotspot and therefore most important to preserve

Save the forest

210 million hectares of forest

With a territory as large as 4x the size of Thailand and 64 million hectares of primary forests, the Southeast Asian forests are important for storing carbon, air and water purification, and as wildlife habitat

Save the climate

Reduce impacts of climate change to the region

Southeast Asia is particularly exposed to climate change such as sea level rise, heat stress, drought, flooding as well as the gradual loss of coral reefs and coastal ecosystems

Save the food supply

ASEAN' population depends on natural resources

With agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, ASEAN's natural resources are the main livelihood provider and are important for the international food supply chains food security

Save the economic infrastructure

US$ 3 trillion is needed until 2030

In ASEAN an estimated US$ 3 trillion of green investments is needed from 2016 to 2030 in sectors such as infrastructure, renewable energy, energy efficiency, food, agriculture and land use

Maintain economic strength

85% of the world’s palm oil from ASEAN

Indonesia and Malaysia export over 85 percent of the world’s palm oil. Fisheries and aquaculture production in the region largely for export increased by around 75 percent between 2000 and 2015

Reach the target

1.5°C target of global warming

84% of the current and planned fossil fuel fired power plants in Southeast Asia are incompatible with the 1.5°C target set under the Paris Agreement.

“Sustainable finance is the link between financial systems and ecosystems. Natural capital generates sustainable economic and environmental benefits that support healthy and resilient economies.”


Indonesia is the first country in ASEAN with regulations on sustainable finance and green bonds. The country's Central Bank initiative to join NGFS highlights that the financial sector is increasingly expected to start integrating climate related risks into its portfolio risk management. January 2022 Indonesia published its Taxonomy.



Malaysia's Central Bank (BNM) issued a guidance document for Islamic financial institution – the Value-based Intermediation Financing and Investment Impact Assessment Framework (VBIAF), specified by now 6 sectoral guides. In 2021 BNM also issued its Climate Change and Principle-based Taxonomy.



The Myanmar Banks Association is currently developing green finance guidelines, which will incorporate ESG considerations relevant to banks. WWF has supported two banks in the developement of their ESG policies.



In 2021 and 2022 the Philippines Central Bank has issued three circulars – 1) their sustainable finance framework 2) their environmental and social risk management framework, and 3) the Philippines sustainable finance roadmap and guiding principles. Together with the Bankers Association of the Philippines WWF trains banks in incorporating ESG principles into their corporate strategy, risk management and banks' operation framework, as well as on climate risk assessment.



In August 2019, the Thai Bankers‘ Association has launched the Sustainable Banking Guidelines for Responsible Lending with support of WWF Thailand. In light of the launch, 15 commercial Thai banks came together to commit to work towards making their lending practices more environmentally and socially responsible. In 2021 the Working Group on Sustainable Finance announced the Sustainable Finance Initiatives, a roadmap for further collaboration, development and implementation in the Thai financial sector.



Located in Singapore, the regional WWF Sustainable Finance hub supports the national WWF offices across Asia, aligns the sustainable finance strategy regionally and develops regional material such as our assessment of banks and regulations.


Create awarness

Economically and Financially

Financial and non-financial businesses alike increasingly recognize that environmental degradation has serious long term economic and financial implications, and the understanding of climate risks in particular has increased significantly

Identify the key players

Race to the top

Thus, financial regulators and banking associations have a key role to play in creating a level playing field, and in encouraging a ‘race to the top’ on sustainable finance, facilitating the financial sector’s contribution to regional sustainable development

Focus on the benefits

Value for Banks and Clients

We depend on crucial ecosystem services that are generated by natural capital assets which include forests, rivers, oceans, biodiversity and soils, valued at US$125 trillion per year, or two-thirds more than annual global GDP – services that underpin all business activities and form the bedrock of our economies.

From banks lending credit to insurers providing cover against risk, the global finance system powers the economic activities that affect our planet. Finance enables oil companies to drill in the Arctic, agribusinesses to clear tropical forests, or dams to be built across free-flowing rivers. But it’s also the key to making our homes more energy efficient, restoring landscapes, or helping small farmers to increase yields in a sustainable way.

About WWF Sustainable Finance work

The financial sector can and must play a key role in driving the transition to sustainable and resilient economies. By leveraging their power to shift financial flows away from unsustainable activities and towards climate-resilient business models, financial institutions can help governments achieve sustainable development and contribute overall to the preservation and restoration of natural capital.

Financial institutions have varying scopes and modes of influence, but all can encourage companies operating in the real economy to adopt science-based sustainability practices that will ensure businesses operate within planetary boundaries and contribute to sustainable development.

Global Risk Report 2020

Extreme Weather
Natural Disasters
Biodiversity Loss
Climate Action Failure
Human-made Environmental Disasters
Water Crises
Infectious Diseases
Food Crises
Involuntary Migration
Social Instability
Failure of Urban Planning
Financial Failure
Fiscal Crises
Asset Bubbles
Energy Price Shock
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Interstate Conflict
Global Governance Failure
National Governance Failure
State Collapse
Terrorist Attacks
Information Infrastructure Breakdown
Data Fraud or Theft
Adverse Technological Advances

World Economic Forum Global Risks Perception Survey 2019-2020

The 5 biggest risks are environmental

For the first time in the history of the World Economic Forum’s global risk report climate related issues dominated all of the top five long term risks by likelihood among members of the Forum’s multi stakeholder community in 2020. Four of the five highest ranked risks regarding their impact are environment related issues led by Climate Action Failure.

Furthermore, the recent Global Assessment released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) supplied clear indicators of the loss of nature and the decline of ecosystems.

Nature provides various important goods and services that enable economic production – and businesses across all sectors of the economy depend on nature.

Examples for ecosystem services are pollination, good soil, water quality and quantity management, flood and storm protection, natural pest management, or the provision of fibres and other materials. Services we often take for granted.

These dependencies represent a business risk if environmental degradation disrupts them – for companies as well as their financiers.

Risks & opportunities

Risks & opportunities

New business opportunities

New business opportunities and diversified financing options arise from a new understanding of the market and changing world context and there is growing interest in the investment opportunities shaped within frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and principles of a circular economy.

Encouragingly, many investors and finance institutions are beginning to recognize the benefits of making investment decisions that help to tackle the loss of nature. Some banks are already pushing their clients to adopt stronger sustainability standards and there’s increasing interest in investments that deliver environmental and social returns alongside financial ones.

Work with

Banks play a key role in facilitating growth by providing loans for new investment and enable day-to-day business operation. With their financing decisions they can play a key role towards more sustainability in the real economy.

Work with banks

Work with

Under the lead of financial regulators, the finance sector can transform the way in which we use land and natural resources to meet society’s needs so that it becomes part of the global climate and sustainability solution.

Work with regulators


New business opportunities and diversified financing options arise from a new understanding of our changing world. Learn more about how financial institutions can capture these opportunities.

Smallholder financing solutions


Key production hubs for high environmental footprint commodities are located in Southeast Asia. In those markets, production requires financing from banks that can be a driver of sustainability in the real economy.

Landscape financing solutions

Sustainable Finance Regulation Report

During the past years the region has observed an increasing momentum in terms of the issuance of sustainable finance guidelines and regulations.

Download report 2019


Check our interactive tool for banks to assess and benchmark their ESG
integration performance, and identify key improvement areas.


This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.

Who we are

World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF)

WWF is one of the world’s largest and most experienced independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network of 6000 experts across the areas most critical to global sustainable development including food systems, climate and energy, and freshwater, forests and oceans active in more than 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. WWF’s International Finance Programme seeks to support this vision by engaging directly with banks, asset managers and other financial institutions. It helps strengthen lending and investment criteria for key industry sectors, provides insights and data on environmental and social risks, fulfils critical research gaps and helps unlock innovation breakthroughs in sustainable financial products.

International Climate Initiative (IKI)

The International Climate Initiative (ICI) is a central element of German climate protection financing and of Germany’s financing commitments under the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). ICI programmes advance innovative solutions and develop new political, economic and regulatory approaches as well as technological options and cooperation models. The solution approaches must have an impact beyond the individual project and be transferable.