The 15th Asian Financial Forum Kicked off to Explore a More Sustainable Future

The 15th Asian Financial Forum Kicked off to Explore a More Sustainable Future

by January 19, 2022

The 15th Asian Financial Forum (AFF) organised by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) opened to explore a sustainable future for the world’s economy.

AFF 2022 was a highlight event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the HKSAR.

The two-day online forum featured 60 sessions including keynote speeches and in-depth discussions along with an array of activities such as exhibitions and the AFF Deal Flow Matchmaking Session.



Under the theme “Navigating the Next Normal towards a Sustainable Future”, more than 170 global business leaders, policymakers, financial and wealth management experts, entrepreneurs, tech giants and economists from 16 countries and regions spoke at the AFF.

They examined the key issues reshaping the economic landscape, including how industries can realise sustainable and inclusive development through impactful venture capital and business strategies.

Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the HKSAR, officiated at the forum’s opening ceremony.

Carrie Lam

Carrie Lam

In her opening remarks she noted that,

“With ‘One Country, Two Systems’ back on the right track, international investors and observers have shown confidence in Hong Kong. The latest Global Financial Centres Index, in September last year, ranked Hong Kong third globally among the more than 100 financial centres assessed, behind only New York and London.

 

Looking ahead, beyond the pandemic and the continuing cloud it raises over global economic growth, particularly associated with the Omicron variant, we see boundless possibilities.”

Dr Peter K N Lam, Chairman of the HKTDC

Dr Peter K N Lam

In his welcome remarks, Dr Peter K N Lam, Chairman of the HKTDC said,

“This year is especially meaningful because the AFF is also the first of many events to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. While we are still tackling the pandemic, we are also looking beyond the pandemic to recovery, which is the main direction of the AFF theme this year.

 

We have brought together policymakers and business leaders from around the world to discuss important global issues from an Asian perspective. This year, our event will again be held virtually, and I hope we can reach more people from around the world to share ideas and inspire each other.”

Three heavyweight financial ministers from Mainland China delivered special remarks during the opening session.

They included Dr Shang Fulin, Director of the CPPCC Economic Affairs Committee, Former Chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, and Former Chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission; Dr Fang Xinghai, Vice Chairman, China Securities Regulatory Commission; and Xiao Yuanqi, Vice Chairman, China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission.

Dr Shang Fulin

Dr Shang Fulin

Dr Shang noted,

“Global openness requires cooperation, and a rules-based multilateral trading system is the cornerstone of economic globalisation and free trade. The international community must double-down on consensus-building and actions.

 

We must also stand firm on maintaining openness, inclusiveness, dialogue and collaboration to jointly address global issues and challenges. This will enable us to promote stronger and greener global development and champion a community with a shared future.”

Mark Carney and Jean-Claude Trichet delivered keynote speeches on the first day

Mark Carney, United Nations’ Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance

Mark Carney, United Nations’ Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance, delivered a keynote address on the first day of AFF 2022.

He shared his insights on how to build a sustainable financial system as a way of mitigating the liability and transitional threats posed by climate change.

“From a general perspective, the risks of future pandemics have gone up because of climate change. And what is disappointing is that we have known of these risks of pandemics for a long period of time.

 

The upfront investment against them in terms of healthcare capacity, testing, et cetera, is extremely modest relative to the cost, and we still haven’t made those investments on the scale that we need. We have to take this seriously. It is compounded by climate change,”

Carney said.

Jean-Claude Trichet, Former President of the European Central Bank

Another distinguished speaker was Jean-Claude Trichet, Former President of the European Central Bank.

He noted that the financial industry, regulators and policymakers should step up their concerted efforts in times of uncertainty.

Global financial policymakers and experts discuss green finance and sustainable growth

A plenary session chaired by Christopher Hui, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury of the HKSAR, was held following the opening session.

Hui joined together with an international panel of financial ministers, bank governors and policymakers to examine the characteristics of the post-COVID global economic new normal and discuss how the public and private sectors can collaborate to orient the global economy towards a green future with sustainable growth.

At a policy dialogue in the afternoon, the panel exchanged views on how the financial system can better support a sustainable global recovery while keeping climate-related financial risks at bay.

Echoing the theme of AFF 2022, a panel discussion on “ESG & Sustainability” was also staged.

The speakers shared their perspectives on how governments around the world, industry giants, financial institutions and philanthropists can work together towards the wider implementation of environmental, social and governance (ESG) to build a sustainable future.

AFF Deal Flow Matchmaking Session and fintech exhibition were held online

From 10 to 12 January, the AFF Deal Flow Matchmaking Session arranged a series of one -on-one matchmaking meetings on a virtual platform to facilitate collaboration between project owners, potential business partners and investors.

More than 600 investment projects, including over 200 ESG-related projects, were showcased, covering sectors such as deep tech, digital technology and media, healthtech, education, infrastructure and real estate services.

Online exhibitions are also being held during AFF 2022.

At the Fintech Showcase, InnoVenture Salon, FintechHK Startup Salon and Global Investment Zone, more than 130 local and international financial institutions, tech companies, startups and investment agencies showcased an array of advanced technologies and investment opportunities in various countries.

Meanwhile, the HKTDC, Mizuho Bank and Eureka Nova, a startup incubation and open innovation platform established by New World Development, come together for the first time for AFF Accelerate.

It provides a platform for entrepreneurs and innovators to bring their next-generation technology solutions from concept to fruition and adoption in the business sector.

Cryptonaire and eminent philanthropist spoke on the second day

Keynote speaker Brett King, Founder and Executive Chairman of Moven, shared perspectives on how the emergence of new fintech developments presents both opportunities and challenges for the banking and financial industries.

Sam Bankman-Fried, Founder and CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX.com and the richest person in crypto, who is also a Forbes 30 Under 30 honouree, talked about his entrepreneurial journey and the outlook for blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Other highlights included the “Decentralised Future – Accelerating Blockchain Innovation for Digital Assets & Transaction” and “Innovation Investment in NFT – Trends and Opportunities” sessions, which featured speakers such as Jason Bailey, Co-Founder & CEO, ClubNFT, and Francis Belin, President, Asia Pacific at Christie’s.

Furthermore, a series of thematic workshops, “Dialogues for Tomorrow” and fireside chats were held to examine the future of such sectors as energy, food and agriculture, digital wealth management, cloud computing, paytech and healthcare.

The speakers also explored opportunities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, venture capital trends and the net zero economy.

Watch the AFF sessions here.