On behalf of AFI, it is an honor to welcome you all to Kuala Lumpur. A special welcome to all who are attending an AFI event for the first time or maybe an AFI Capacity Building event for the first time. I am sure some of you are visiting Kuala Lumpur for the first time. For all, this is a special opportunity to meet many of the AFI staff based here in Kuala Lumpur and to experience the rich multicultural capital of Malaysia. I hope you are ready for the next four exciting days of peer learning and networking.
Climate change and the attendant risks faced by mankind have come under the spotlight as the global climate continues to change rapidly in comparison to the pace of the natural variations in climate that have occurred throughout history. The World Bank estimates that climate change could drive 216 million people to migrate within their own countries by 2050. The World Bank further reports that between 1970 and 2021, 9 out of 10 deaths and 60% of economic losses from disasters happened in developing countries.
The AFI network is cognizant of the devastating impact of climate change, particularly on vulnerable populations in emerging and developing economies who feel the brunt of the effects of climate change. These include smallholder farmers, rural dwellers, agro and tourism-based SMEs as well as women and youth, whose livelihoods are threatened by climate change. Moreover, climate change poses a threat to financial stability and sustainable development goals set in these countries.
The AFI network recognized the role of financial inclusion in building resilience and mitigating climate risks as well as encouraging climate adaptation amongst vulnerable groups. The initial signing of the Sharm El Sheikh Accord on Inclusive Green Finance (IGF) in 2017 and further updated in 2022, signified the commitment of AFI members to promoting IGF through various activities spearheaded by the IGF Working Group. The Working Group has provided policy and regulatory guidance on IGF, progressing from theory to practice over the five years since its establishment in 2019. The initial years were dedicated to building awareness, understanding the concept of IGF, and gathering data on initiatives that some members were implementing. In the second phase, members began developing various policies and initiatives to incorporate environmental and climate risk into their regulatory and supervisory functions. Currently, members continue to navigate the implementation stage, applying and evaluating the policies they have initiated. The ongoing implementation of IGF policies needs to be supported by continuous learning and adoption of best practices from across the AFI network. This JLP will further stimulate discussion and encourage the adoption of new approaches that facilitate and promote the implementation of IGF policies, ultimately benefiting financial inclusion, especially for the most vulnerable populations.
Capacity building has played a key role in the IGF journey of AFI members, as the role of financial regulators in promoting IGF was a new and rapidly evolving topic for the AFI members. We present this JLP with immense pride as it is an indication of the years of work that went into making the shift from IGF policy conceptualization to IGF policy implementation possible. A JLP is one of AFI’s capacity building services where AFI member institutions that have made significant progress in a specific financial inclusion policy area share their learning and experiences with the network. In this JLP, carefully selected members representing the various regions in which AFI works, will showcase their learning experiences – to give participants an opportunity to learn from several AFI members who have advanced in different aspects of IGF policy implementation.
This event underscores several key developments in the realm of IGF within AFI. First and foremost, there is a strategic shift from policy conceptualization to actual implementation, with a concentrated focus on advancing in-country implementation (ICI) as the next pivotal step. A critical aspect of this evolution involves a heightened understanding of climate-related risks across diverse regions and an exploration of the various IGF approaches adopted by members. This nuanced comprehension is crucial for tailoring policies to specific contexts and ensuring their effectiveness. Furthermore, there is a deliberate effort to enhance the integration and intersection of Inclusive Green Finance with other policy areas, fostering a more holistic and synergistic approach.
In a recent milestone, AFI hosted a significant side event at COP 28, aiming to advance global advocacy on IGF policy development and implementation. This event marks a pivotal moment in the collaboration between AFI, academia, and a dynamic dialogue between developed and developing countries. The increased interest from partners and policymakers underscores the growing significance of IGF on the global stage.
I attended the Member Training on IGF held in the Maldives in November 2022, where I witnessed the passion and commitment of the members to work on the critical topic of IGF. Peer learning and practical knowledge exchange are the DNA of the AFI network, and this JLP should be able to provide you with some practical knowledge on IGF policies that you can use in your jurisdictions. Equally important is that you return with enhanced knowledge about AFI as a network and some new friends. A residential event like this provides an opportunity to learn as much outside the classroom as inside.
Please convey our appreciation to your management for making your participation possible in various AFI events and we encourage you to access the online courses that are offered under the AFI Educate brand. As I conclude, I would also like to reaffirm AFI’s ongoing role in supporting its members on IGF policy development through the provision of technical support and grants, in line with AFI’s commitment to facilitating sustainable financial practices worldwide. AFI staff are available to answer any questions related to the AFI services on offer. As the learning program commences, I wish you all an exciting learning experience and trust that you will also get to explore beautiful Kuala Lumpur.