It is a pressing issue in Hong Kong to increase the supply of ESG professionals to meet the demand for talent, according to the Hong Kong Green Finance Association (HKGFA).
“The ESG discipline is rather new, and many practitioners are still learning on the job. Although there are a number of ESG experts in the city, the knowledge gap is very obvious,” said Chaoni Huang, vice present and secretary general of HKGFA to a media briefing this week.
“When we have a lack of competence, it increases the risk of greenwashing.”
To address the talent gap, the Hong Kong government is trying to attract ESG professionals from other countries.
In her policy address this year, chief executive Carrie Lam proposed adding “financial professionals in ESG” and “financial professionals in compliance in asset management” to the talent list.
The other way to increase the supply of ESG professionals in Hong Kong is to develop talents locally, Huang added.
Through cooperating with its members and various working groups, the HKGFA has organised 60 events in 2021, including ESG capacity building activities.
The workshops educated market players on topics such as transition finance, sustainability loans and bonds, ESG integration, and portfolio alignment.
“To scale up and accelerate the progress of sustainable finance requires unwavering policy actions,” said Huang.
Since 2020, Hong Kong has rolled out a series of policies, including the climate pledge, green prudential assessment by Hong Kong Monetary Association, the Securities and Futures Commission’s climate risk measure on fund managers, and the green and sustainable finance platform established by the HKGFA cross agency sustainable group, she added.
Links with China
China has set its goal to reach carbon peak by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060.
This would mean that investments in green finance will amount to over RMB48.7bn over the next 30 years, or RMB1.6bn per year on average, said Ma Jun, chairman and president of HKGFA.
Coupled with the free economy status and the connection with the Chinese market, Ma believes Hong Kong can perform as a bridge between China and the international green finance market.