For sustainable finance to flow in the Philippines, transparency and political will are key

For sustainable finance to flow in the Philippines, transparency and political will are key
H.E. Christian Halaas Lyster, Ambassador, Royal Norwegian Embassy Manila, touched upon Norway's sovereign investment fund.

Manila, Philippines, 15 September – With up to 20 typhoons barrelling into the country every year, the Philippines incurs some P200 billion (US$3.5 billion) in economic losses annually from extreme weather events and other natural disasters. 

Amid this backdrop, the Philippines edition of Unlocking Capital For Sustainability (UCFS) 2023, which was themed “Mobilising climate finance from the 4Ps – Public, private, and philanthropic partnerships”, gathered more than 100 attendees, including policymakers, banks, philanthropic organisations and international development partners at Conrad Manila on Thursday to discuss how the country can access more finance for positive climate action.

Organised by Eco-Business in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), this regional forum is part of Eco-Business’ annual flagship event on sustainable finance for Asia Pacific. Among the key themes that emerged from the forum was the need for transparency on government spending, and for proponents of climate funding to submit project proposals that have robust environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards.

Eufrocinio M. Bernabe, Jr, Assistant Secretary, Office of the Chief Economist, Department of Finance, who spoke about the Maharlika Investment Fund, said, “As climate change increasingly shapes institutional sector-wide vulnerabilities, we must bring the same urgency as we have seen in the unprecedented speed in the race to develop the Covid-19 vaccine. The race to net zero is a multi-decade marathon which has already begun. Getting to the finish line will require [halving] global emissions by 2030.”

H.E. Christian Halaas Lyster, Ambassador, Royal Norwegian Embassy Manila, touched upon Norway’s sovereign investment fund, highlighting that Norfund has already invested some US$818 million towards strengthening the Philippines’ climate resilience and supporting sustainable growth.

“Norway, through our pension fund, is indirectly working to unlock capital for sustainability. Every Norwegian, myself included, owns around US$250,000 of this fund. This was done to ensure long-term management of values. We have a generation fund that not only belongs to the generations of today, but also the generations of tomorrow.” 

Atty Federico Tancongco, Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer, Head of Compliance and Legal Department, BDO Unibank, highlighted that in 2022 the bank successfully raised P52.7 billion (US$927 million) in peso-denominated fixed-rate Asean sustainability bonds, more than 10 times the original offer of P5 billion (US$88 million), due to robust demand from retail and institutional investors.

“[Within] the context of the Philippines, this is huge. There are so many [that] want to go into [sustainable finance]. We have to connect [funds] to viable projects because the money is there.”

Rhodora Brazil-De Vera, Deputy Director, Supervisory Policy and Research Department, Financial Supervision Sector, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, announced that the central bank is working with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Insurance Commission to develop the Philippines’ sustainable finance taxonomy guidelines, with the support of the World Bank, to be launched later this year and emphasised the need for green capacity building in financial institutions.

“There is no just transition where there is inequality. We’re convening policy leaders, banks, philanthropic givers, investors and key stakeholders to catalyse finance for the Philippines and see that development benefits not only capitalists but the Filipino people at the margins,” said Ping Manongdo, Country Director, Philippines, and Assistant Director, Partnerships, Eco-Business.

“Beyond funding and investments, we at BDO are committed to providing access to capital to customers to help them transition into either renewable energy businesses or projects that support a low-carbon transition. That means we will not leave our customers behind but we will perform a stewardship role to help them transition,” said Marla Garin-Alvarez, Vice President & Head, Sustainability Office, Compliance Group, BDO Unibank.

Marcel Silvius, Philippines Country Representative, Deputy Director Asia, Sustainable Landscapes CoP Lead Asia-Pacific, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), underscored that going green is the only way forward in navigating an uncertain future.

“In the realm of climate change, extending the life of a tree [holds] more value than [its] timber. We need to invest in sustainable landscapes. It’s not throwing money at climate change; it’s an investment that will have a payback. It will enhance your economy. Going forward, a green economy is the way to go,” he concluded.

The event’s strategic partner was BDO Unibank. Its supporting partner was SM Investments Corporation. Its knowledge partners include ADB SEADSAVPN, and Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS).

For more information, visit the Unlocking Capital For Sustainability website at

For high-resolution photos from the event, please visit this page


Notes to Editors: 

For media enquiries, please contact:

Rhick Albay, Eco-Business

(+63) 9275506072


About Eco-Business  

Established in 2009, Eco-Business is an independent media and business intelligence company dedicated to sustainable development and ESG performance. It publishes high quality, trusted news and views in multimedia formats on business and policy developments around the world with a sustainability and ESG-focused lens.  

Eco-Business provides research and consulting on a wide range of issues which create strategic value for our partners and clients. It owns and creates thought-leadership platforms which inform policymaking, improve business practices and foster collaboration among different sectors. Eco-Business is headquartered in Singapore, with a presence in Manila, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Zurich, New York, and correspondents in major cities across the world. Visit us at  

About BDO Unibank

BDO Unibank is a full-service universal bank in the Philippines, providing a complete array of industry-leading products and services including Lending (corporate and consumer), Deposit-taking, Foreign Exchange, Brokering, Trust and Investments, Credit Cards, Retail Cash Cards, Corporate Cash Management and Remittances. Through its local subsidiaries, the Bank offers Investment Banking, Private Banking, Leasing and Finance, Rural Banking, Life Insurance, Insurance Brokerage, and Online and Traditional Stock Brokerage services.

About UN Environment

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.

In Asia and the Pacific, UN Environment is helping countries address some of the region’s biggest challenges. From fighting pollution to pursuing sustainable growth, we work with national and local authorities, civil society, other UN entities, financial institutions, regional bodies and networks, research institutions and the private sector to realize positive impact for planet and people.

More details about UN Environment can be found at

About Unlocking Capital For Sustainability  

Unlocking capital for sustainability is an annual premier event organised by Eco-Business in partnership with UN Environment that brings together high-level decision makers in finance, business, government and civic society to discuss and commit to actionable initiatives that mobilise the capital markets for sustainable development projects. The event’s strategic partners include RGE Group, UOB and BDO Unibank, and supporting partners are OCBC Bank, SM Investments Corporation and Pollination. 

More information about Unlocking capital for sustainability can be found at

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