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By Nurul Hanis Izmir
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 -- As the world continues to navigate through uncertainties and recurring waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global economy is shifting its focus to mounting a sustainable economic recovery to futureproof itself from potential vulnerabilities in the new normal, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) said.
Chief executive Michael Izza said the world likely needs to live with the pandemic and the transition to normalcy would be bumpy even for economies that have had rapid vaccine rollouts.
“The post-COVID era will be dominated by climate change,” he said in his opening remarks during the virtual ICAEW International Economic Forum Q3 2021 today.
The third installment of the international economic briefing looked at sustainable economies, evaluating which regions are more vulnerable to climate change and which region is best prepared for the post-COVID era as the world moves towards more sustainable economies.
Izza said countries in the Middle East and Asia face stiff challenges, but innovation and government support there mean that there are also significant opportunities.
PwC Singapore sustainability and climate change director Lee Bing Yi said now would be a good time for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to seriously think about embracing sustainability as part of their corporate agenda as they reform to boost businesses amid COVID-19.
He highlighted that it is crucial for them to make use of funding from the government to enhance their competency and capacity to move forward.
“Since they are the ones needing help the most they need to embark on this journey. But it doesn’t have to be an overhaul of the business model immediately or do something drastic. Small steps will do, like setting a target and demonstrate their commitments towards sustainability,” he said during a panelist discussion.
For example in Singapore, Lee said the republic had last year launched the Green and Sustainability-Linked Loans Grant Scheme that was curated specifically to the SME sector to obtain green and sustainable financing. It defrays the expenses of engaging independent sustainability advisory and assessment service providers to validate the green and sustainability credentials of the loan.
“We also have training grants and upskilling initiatives to really help train them, who are the backbone of the economy, for instance helping them to train their employees to be more tech-savvy,” he added.
Another panelist, Danae Kyriakopoulou, a senior policy fellow of the London School of Economics, said climate change has often been perceived as a luxury for companies to invest in. “We need to quickly reframe this. In fact, we need to reframe it as the growth story of the 21st century. If we didn’t address that it would have been more expensive.”
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