MORE companies have been pursuing green and sustainable projects over the last five years, with funds raised in the global green bond market rising to more than $167.3 billion as of end-2018.

Citing data from Climate Bonds Initiative, Singapore-based City Developments Limited Chief Sustainability Officer Esther An noted the issuance of green bonds surged to $167.3 billion in 2018, from less than $50 billion in 2014.

The Asia-Pacific region accounted for 22% of the global green bond market, mostly due to mature markets such as China, Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong.

“Asia Pacific is growing, of course majority of it is actually from China. But ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) definitely is in the best position to grow,” Ms. An said during the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC)-Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Summit in Pasay City yesterday.

Proceeds for about 60% of these bonds were used for green buildings, energy, and transport projects.

Ms. An, who is also a UNGC Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Pioneer for Green Infrastructure and a Low-Carbon Economy, said that ASEAN has a projected demand of $3 trillion for green investments until 2030.

This demand is driven by several factors including a growing population, higher consumption, heightened green consciousness, and the rise of value-based investors.

The growing demand from investors to see more companies adhering to sustainable practices has also prompted conglomerates such as SM Investments Corp. (SMIC) and Ayala Corp. (AC) to align their business strategies with a global framework.

For instance, SMIC Adviser Hans T. Sy said the SM Group has integrated three platforms in terms of its operations and sustainability, including investing 10% of its capital expenditure on disaster-resilient features depending on a mall’s existing hazards; capacity building and collaboration; as well as public-private partnerships at the global, regional and national levels.

“Through these efforts, we seal our commitment in creating a more equitable and progressive environment for business partnerships for generations to come,” Mr. Sy said in a speech in the same forum.

The listed conglomerate has also been supporting small-and-medium enterprises to help them continue business operations amid disasters.

Meanwhile, AC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said they have identified three challenges to focus on, namely marginalization, large untapped potential of human capital, and irresponsible growth leading to long-term environmental damage.

“The Ayala Sustainability Blueprint, specifically designed to support the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, has allowed us to be more deliberate in monitoring and evaluating our sustainability targets and will help us allocate resources to these initiatives more appropriately,” Mr. Zobel said in a speech during the forum. — Arra B. Francia