The second Islamic Finance and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Taskforce meeting has taken place virtually bringing together over 50 global Islamic finance leaders. At the meeting, convened by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in partnership with the UK Islamic Finance Council (UKIFC), the SBP announced the launch of a country level working group bringing the leading banks across Pakistan to focus on green finance and the SDGs. Two further working groups, to be driven by Taskforce members, focused on Disclosure and Reporting and Education and Awareness were also announced.
The Taskforce is playing a leading role to encourage the adoption of the SDGs, highlight the green finance opportunity and promote the UN Principles of Responsible Banking within the global Islamic finance sector. This represents a $2.5 trillion global investment opportunity as part of the post-Covid-19 economic recovery. The Islamic Development Bank suggest that between $700m and $1trillion of this is within its member countries presenting an immediate opportunity for Islamic finance institutions.
State Bank of Pakistan Governor, His Excellency Dr. Reza Baqir, announced the launch of a Pakistan country working group that will:
“Explore the inherent strength of Islamic finance to develop a responsible business framework by engaging academia, policy makers and practitioners towards achieving SDGs.”
Leading the Awareness group UKIFC Advisory Board Member and meeting chair, Richard de Belder commented:
“Having identified a knowledge gap this working group will focus on activities that increase awareness, promote understanding and encourage adoption of the SDGs amongst the global Islamic financial and their related primary stakeholders.”
Leading the Disclosure and Reporting working group Gatehouse Bank CEO Charles Haresnape added:
“This working group is a unique opportunity to bring the Islamic banks signed up to the UN Principles of Responsible Banking together to share experiences with a view to developing a more consistent approach to disclosure and report.”
Despite a natural alignment few Islamic financial institutions are engaged with the SDGs. As we enter the decade of delivery the Taskforce has become an important platform to raise awareness of the Global Goals and catalyse practical action amongst Islamic financial institutions.
The meeting, also heard from Dr Hayat Sindi, Senior Advisor to the President, Islamic Development Bank, who spoke about how Islamic financial institutions are demonstrating resilience as world events continue to reshape the landscape of global financial services; how IFI’s can prepare themselves for the opportunities and challenges posed by such a changing economy; and especially with regards to investing in science and innovation so poorer countries can provide an adequate response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
About The Taskforce:
With assets expected to reach US $3.8 trillion in 2022, Islamic finance is one of the fastest growing sectors in the global financial industry. Achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will take over US$5 trillion per year investment with the current financing gap standing at around $2.5 trillion per year.
The purpose of the taskforce is to explore the role the Islamic finance industry can play in addressing this funding gap and to better understand the commercial opportunities the SDGs present for the sector.
The UN’s SDGs are the blueprint to achieving a better and more sustainable future for all, addressing issues such as climate change, education and equality. Achieving the SDGs requires a coordinated global effort with Governments and private sector, including the financial services sector as a whole. Analysis indicates there is limited engagement by the global Islamic finance sector and this focused taskforce has been established by the UKIFC.