Hosted by Bank Negara Malaysia, the inaugural Responsible Finance Summit was opened on 30th March 2016 with powerful speeches from two leaders who have been key to the growth and development of the responsible finance industry.

Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, the Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, the Summit’s host, highlighted the need for finance to serve the real economy. She said: “As responsible global financial participants, the opportunity to come together again to rebuild trust and provide the foundations of a more stable and sustainable long-term economic growth can be achieved through our commitments to responsible finance. The call is for greater global cooperation and leadership to unlock the future of finance and expand its positive impact in the global economy.”

Dr. Zeti Aziz is prominent central bank governor, the first female central bank governor in Asia.  During her tenure, Malaysia has also led the region with the growth of Islamic finance, a key sector within the responsible finance industry. Malaysia’s Islamic banks represent 20% of the total banking system and its Islamic investment funds represent 37% of Asia’s responsible investment assets.

Following Dr. Zeti’s address, Mr. Georg Kell, Vice Chairman of Arabesque Partners and Founder and former Executive Director of the UN Global Compact delivered a keynote address to an audience of more than 400 leaders from across the world.

Drawing from his experience in developing an initiative to implement universal sustainability principles that now has more than 12,000 signatories in more than 170 countries, Mr. Kell spoke of the need for forge a more inclusive and global responsible finance industry. He said: “Competitive struggle increasingly defined by being socially responsible and have top of the line governance sector; is a race to the top not a race to the bottom.

The Responsible Finance Summit gathered high profile delegates from around the world – including Canada, Ghana, Malaysia, Seychelles, Libya, UAE, Nigeria, USA, Russia – at Sasana Kijang, the iconic center for banking and finance that has placed Malaysia as the emerging market epicenter in the responsible finance map.

Present at the Summit’s opening keynote session were high level attendees from the central banks of Libya, Ghana, Sri Lanka, and the Seychelles; and Ambassadors from Thailand, Jordan, Turkey, Canada, Brunei, Cambodia.

Under the theme of “Unlocking Finance, Expanding Impact”, the Summit over the next 2 days will highlight emerging markets as the most important frontier for the expansion of the responsible finance industry. Discussions at the Summit will focus on 4 critical areas for the responsible finance industry:

  • Increasing footprint in emerging markets
  • Enhancing and measuring the impact of the industry
  • Furthering the depth and knowledge sharing between Islamic finance and responsible finance
  • Integrating responsible finance within global financial markets

The Summit is organised by the Responsible Finance Institute (RFI) Foundation and co-organised by Middle East Global Advisors, two leading institutions spearheading the agenda of identifying Islamic finance within the broader responsible finance universe to capitalise on its unique aspects to make responsible finance more inclusive across the global population.

Malaysia is an ideal backdrop for discussions on convergence within the industry due to its leading role in the development of Islamic finance as well as its pioneering initiatives to encourage crossovers between Islamic finance and responsible finance, including establishing a regulatory framework to support sustainable, responsible and impact (SRI) sukuk.

The Responsible Finance Summit is being held from 30-31 March 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.