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Keynote Address by Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in The Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance, at The Asia Sustainable Infrastructure Advisory ("ASIA") Panel Discussion 2021, on 8 November 2021, Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre

08 Nov 2021

Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN, ASEAN Secretariat,

Yang Mulia Awang Haji Amer Hishamuddin Zakaria, Permanent Secretary Brunei Darussalam and LIB-SI Chair,

Hem Vanndy, Secretary of State, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Kingdom of Cambodia,

ASIA Panel members, 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Welcome to the Asia Sustainable Infrastructure Advisory (or ASIA) Panel discussion.

Sustainable infrastructure key for future-ready economies

2. With climate change, we are experiencing more frequent and extreme weather events from increasing temperature and sea levels. This in turn will have an impact on both food and water security.[1][2]

3. The consequences of climate change are being keenly felt in Asia, where stronger tropical storms along low-lying coastlines will flood some areas and even cause other areas to disappear[3].To mitigate this, the future of infrastructure needs to be sustainable and resilient.

4. Many governments are already taking steps to build more sustainable infrastructure. In Singapore, we have initiated the Singapore Green Plan 2030, which encompasses a whole-of-nation sustainable development agenda with firm action plans. The Plan will also continue to build Singapore as a regional hub for green finance and sustainable infrastructure, while strengthening our commitments under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (or SDG) and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

5. Significant financing is needed to support these sustainability efforts, with public capital alone not being sufficient. The Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Green Finance Action Plan strives to develop the ecosystem and capabilities to enable green finance to scale effectively. This includes:

• Ensuring the consistency and comparability of green and transition taxonomies,
• Promoting innovative solutions and deepening markets, 
• Encouraging consistent reporting and disclosure standards, 
• Harnessing technology to enable trusted sustainable finance flows, and lastly,
• Building knowledge and capabilities in sustainable finance.

Stakeholders must play a part in the infrastructure ecosystem 

6. Despite significant efforts by governments around the world to catalyse sustainable financing and investing, Covid-19 has inevitably strained already limited fiscal resources. To ensure that the development of sustainable infrastructure continues to advance in tandem with population and economic growth, we need to prioritise projects and embrace technology to support growth areas that align with the trinity of national interests, regional needs, and global trends. This requires a multi-dimensional approach and strong public-private partnerships between governments, private sector players, and international financial institutions.

Private sector capital

7. Private investments provide an alternative source of capital for sustainable infrastructure projects, alleviating these fiscal constraints. Environmental, Social, and Governance (or ESG) assets have already become mainstream, and global investors are poised to double their ESG assets over the next five years from US$35.3 trillion in 2020. 

• We are also seeing more private platforms, such as the one launched by Temasek and HSBC recently[4]. This platform will invest up to US$150 million in sustainable infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia, including in renewable energy, production and storage, water and waste treatment, and sustainable transport.

8. Building sustainable infrastructure has also been made easier in current times, with private sector capital combining with catalytic solutions from multilateral development banks (or MDBs) that can better meet the region’s needs. MDBs and the International Monetary Fund have taken the lead in supporting countries’ efforts to achieve the SDGs through providing finance, technical assistance, and knowledge to help their members tackle pressing developmental needs.

Private sector solutions

9. Private sector participation can provide innovative solutions to infuse sustainable practices into logistics and supply chain, digital infrastructure, urban development or re-development, including for urban transport, and climate mitigation and adaptation. 

• Like Portcast, a Singapore startup supported by SGInnovate, introduced machine learning and predictive artificial intelligence to track, predict, and quantify cargo delays, as well as forecast demand for containers.[5]

• This reduces redundant resources spent on buffers, such as idle trucks and empty warehouses, thereby lowering supply chain costs. The solutions also enable greater supply chain efficiency and resilience by maximising the cargo load of each shipment, which can in turn reduce the carbon footprint of trade activities.

Government schemes

10. Singapore is also embarking on initiatives to channel more private investments towards sustainable infrastructure development in Asia. 

• For example, Enterprise Singapore has launched the Enterprise Financing Scheme-Green, or EFS-Green, to provide risk-share of 70 per cent to catalyse lending for project developers, system integrators, and technology and solution enablers in green sectors. 

• This results in better access to green financing for Singapore enterprises which develop enabling technologies and solutions to reduce waste, resource use, and greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the global agenda on sustainability.

11. With more data, financing sources, and better use of the right technology, it is now possible to better plan, design, construct, operate, and maintain all types of infrastructure so that they are more sustainable economically, more sustainable against future disruptions, and more sustainable against the existential risk of climate change.  This is the sustainable infrastructure that is needed by Asian countries in the coming years.

ASIA Panel will help shape Asia’s sustainability focus 

12. To facilitate the exchange of insights across the sustainable infrastructure value chain, and to bring perspectives from the different players in the value chain, we have established the ASIA Panel. We are honoured to have internationally renowned thought leaders, practitioners, as well as strong advocates of sustainable infrastructure with us on this Panel.

13. The Panel will serve as a platform to exchange views on key global trends and best practices on sustainable infrastructure; and promote opportunities for the private sector to support Asia’s sustainable infrastructure development.

14. It is my pleasure to open the Panel’s inaugural forum today. Over the next two days, the Panel members, together with our regional counterparts and private sector partners, will discuss key challenges in advancing sustainable infrastructure development in three public discussions. These discussions will shed light on how we can better sharpen our sustainability focus and establish concrete steps towards a more sustainable Asia.


15. Private companies, as well as MDBs and regional governments, can complement each other with great synergy to accelerate sustainable infrastructure development in Asia. The ASIA Panel will work with these stakeholders to offer solutions to scale infrastructure development in Asia.

16. I encourage all participants to make full use of this platform to forge new connections and contribute ideas on how we can work together to build a better future for the region. Thank you very much.



[1] What are the effects of climate change on Southeast Asia? | World Economic Forum

[2] Economy-wide effects of coastal flooding due to sea level rise: a multi-model simultaneous treatment of mitigation, adaptation, and residual impacts | Enviro

[3] IPCC Report Shows South Asia Is on the Front Lines of the Climate Crisis | Foreign Policy

[4] Temasek and HSBC to invest $150 million for debt financing platform to fund sustainable infrastructure projects | The Straits Times

[5] Portcast Corporate Website | Portcast