Malaysia’s transition to net-zero requires urgent collective action

Malaysia’s transition to net-zero requires  urgent collective action

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 8 September – As Malaysia welcomes new policy frameworks to encourage investments towards its net-zero transition, corporate leaders must prioritise building its capabilities in sustainability and transition financing.  

At the Malaysian edition of Unlocking capital for sustainability 2023, which welcomed more than 80 attendees, leaders of the nation’s public, private and non-profit sectors gathered to strengthen collective action towards Malaysia’s transition. 

Themed “Powering a just transition for Malaysia”, the speakers discussed how the nation can gain access to capital for its energy transition, how national policies can be best implemented, the role of boards in driving the just transition, and how to safeguard the livelihood of its people while addressing climate change. 

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, which brings together high-level decision-makers across finance, business, government and civic society to discuss and commit to actionable initiatives that mobilise the capital markets for sustainable development. 

In a bid to increase adoption of cleaner energy and drive down emissions, the Malaysian government recently launched the National Energy Transition Roadmap and lifted the ban on exports of renewable energy. With at least RM1.2 trillion needed to accelerate the nation’s energy transition, the government has also gradually phased out electricity subsidies and boosted incentives for solar panel installations.  

Meanwhile, the private sector has stepped up financing mechanisms to fund climate action, which include a newly launched carbon exchange and solutions to fund renewable energy and electric vehicles.   

At the in-person event held at Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Damansara, speakers from leading financial institutions and industry discussed how these investments can be designed to ensure no community or stakeholder is left behind.  

At the opening of the event, Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid, chairman for the Business Council for Sustainable Development Malaysia and chairman at sustainable development consultancy Atri Advisory first noted that he was “very delighted to see new faces, in particular from the private sector.” 

Abdul Hamid spoke on the need for companies to prioritise sustainable long-term growth, and for individuals, especially those in positions of influence, to drive change.  

“Companies must approach environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters the same way that they approach any other financial risks. This approach must change; they must view ESG matters as material concerns. Individuals like legislators, regulators and investors can influence businesspeople, who, most of the time, are involved in the short-term maximisation of shareholder value at the expense of long-term value creation.” 

“We are delighted to be able to convene a room full of decision makers here in Malaysia for this important conversation. We’ve seen around the world how we are already suffering acute impacts of climate change and inequality. We need to urgently transition economies and highlight specific policy mechanisms which can do so while safeguarding jobs; as well as corporate action and the role of the Board in acceleration this transition. Public funding is critically insufficient. We need to crowd in private and philanthropic capital to de-risk projects, provide guarantees, and a longer-term horizon in order to fund and scale large-scale sustainable development projects,” said Jessica Cheam, founder and managing director, Eco-Business.  

“In many parts of Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, a combination of public and private funding and ecosystem support needs to be deployed to drive an effective transition. There must be collective efforts from policymakers, industry bodies and financiers in order for transition pathways to be set, policies and regulations to drive alignment, and standards to push for change,” said Melissa Moi, head of sustainable business, group corporate sustainability office, at UOB. “The more clarity these initiatives provide, the greater action we will achieve.” 

The event’s strategic partner was UOB. Its knowledge partners include ADB SEADSCentre For Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS)Climate Governance Malaysia and UNDP.  

For more information, visit the Unlocking finance for sustainability website at  

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


Notes to Editors:  

For enquiries or photos, contact: 

Gabrielle See, Eco-Business 


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 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 premiere 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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