The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity for a green reset of the economy. Businesses will be expected to evolve in ways that address economic, social, and environmental concerns in tandem. Governments must also find ways to incorporate sustainability priorities into their post-pandemic economic stimulus plans. For Southeast Asia, the protection, management, and restoration of the region’s highly biodiverse natural ecosystems is key to decarbonisation as well as to economic development.
In the span of just 20 years, forests across Southeast Asia have gone from being net carbon sinks to being net emitters, due largely to the rapid expansion of agriculture. On the other hand, the agribusiness and forestry sectors contribute significantly to Southeast Asian economies and support millions of livelihoods. Solutions are emerging to better enable the industry to align with a “green recovery” from COVID-19, and turn climate-related risks into opportunities.
Companies with sustainable practices can now be more easily distinguished and rewarded by consumer markets, thanks to innovations in finance, technology and regulation. Green investment opportunities have also arisen around nature-based climate solutions, now recognised as a necessary component of carbon reduction strategies. With multiple ASEAN countries evaluating ways to price and trade carbon, nature-based solutions will support the creation of carbon markets, a promising area for regional cooperation to benefit green and sustainable economic growth.
In this respect, the 8th Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources (SDSWR) will explore the following questions:
• How are governments planning to finance their low-carbon development plans in a post-pandemic environment?
• What is needed to strengthen market demand for sustainably-produced commodities?
• How can ASEAN countries collaborate to scale up conservation and restoration projects to contribute to a regional carbon market?