Why this topic matters to UOB
It is imperative that UOB closely supports its customers to capture the growing global and regional opportunities in sustainability. According to a study by the Business and Sustainable Commission in 2017, achieving the Global Goals for Sustainable Development will open up US$12 trillion of market opportunities by 2030. In developing and emerging countries in Asia, the market opportunities are estimated to be worth US$3.3 trillion, of which 70 per cent is estimated to be derived from the development of smart cities as well as energy and materials efficiency technology.
How we approach this topic
In developing sustainability solutions for our customers, our strategy and decision-making are guided by the UN SDGs. To ensure that our financing and investing activities make positive impact as well as to mitigate any potential harm to communities and ecological systems, we align our frameworks and practices to internationally-recognised standards, principles and guidelines wherever feasible.
In terms of green financing, we prioritise eight sectoral opportunities where UOB can play a role. These sectoral opportunities are:
expansion of renewables;
mass public transport;
electric and hybrid vehicles and associated charging infrastructure;
energy efficiency in energy intensive sectors;
reducing food and packaging waste; and
end-use steel efficiency.
The direct and indirect environmental impact resulting from these initiatives include:
reductions in carbon emission;
increase asset utilisation and resource savings;
better water and waste management practices;
reductions in the amount of waste generated via more efficient processes; and
value creation from waste streams via promotion of circularity in product cycles.
Social impact can also result indirectly from green financing initiatives through better resource usage and enhancements to the living environment of local communities, which are important stakeholders for our customers.
Double our renewable energy, energy efficiency, green transport infrastructure, water and waste management portfolio. 
Implement targeted programmes to support the growth of emerging 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) businesses. 
Launch the second Asia Impact Investment Fund (AIIF) to continue making impact and/or responsible investments in companies across Southeast Asia and China. 
Help foster a more inclusive society by engaging 200 companies in Singapore and encouraging them to create meaningful employment opportunities for persons with disabilities through The Unlimited programme. 
The Asset Triple A Country Awards 2019
Best Sustainability Linked Loan: US$650 million sustainability linked syndicated revolving credit facility to Louis Dreyfus Company Asia
Best Bilateral Green Loan: $42.75 million senior secured term loan facility for Sunseap Leasing’s portfolio of solar assets
The Asset Best ESG Initiative Award 2019
The Asset created a pinnacle award in 2019 to accord UOB with a special recognition: Best of the Best Initiative among their ESG Corporate Awards recipients. UOB’s The Unlimited was judged as unique and outstanding in the way the programme brings together the private, public and people sectors to address both business and societal needs.
Enabling Employers Awards 2019
Leader in Innovation Award for The Unlimited.
Our performance in 2019
We increased financing for renewable energy, energy efficiency, green transport infrastructure, water and waste management by 94 per cent in 2019. As a result, renewable energy now forms 24 per cent of our power-related portfolio from 11 per cent in 2018.
During the year, we also rolled out the Plastics Recyclers Ecosystem Financing programme to support plastics converters that are using recycled resin to manufacture PET bottles as well as buyers of these recycled plastics. The initiative helps to close one of the gaps that needs to be addressed in order to create a more circular plastic economy in the region. monitoring climate change-related risks and opportunities; and
More than $1 billion in UOB Venture Management (UOBVM)’s assets under management was related to its ESG-linked and impact investing funds.
As at December 2019, we had engaged 162 companies among whom half were our clients through The Unlimited in order to generate awareness for the benefits of inclusive hiring.
Partnership for the Goals
Member of the MAS Financial Centre Advisory Panel (FCAP), Green Finance Working Group
Signatory to the IFC Operating Principles for Impact Management – UOBVM
Member of the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network – UOBVM
Private sector catalyst in a tripartite collaboration with SG Enable, Autism Resource Centre (ARC), Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) and SPD
Joint organiser of solar energy workshops alongside the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and U-Solar partners in Malaysia, to promote sustainability awareness among small- and medium-sized enterprises by connecting them directly with credible solar engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) contractors, as well as to provide green financing to enable commercial and retail customers to actively contribute to the Global Goals.
CONTRIBUTION TO THE UN SDGs
Green financing frameworks
Investing in sustainable buildings is key to achieving the Paris Agreement goals. Building construction and operations accounted for 36 per cent of global final energy use and nearly 40 per cent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2017, representing the largest share of any industry
2. Up to 70 per cent of a large city’s greenhouse gas emissions are related to its buildings 3. Sustainable buildings offer a multitude of benefits to the environment and society including job creation; increased infrastructure and urban resilience; enhanced health and well-being; reductions in air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation; improved energy access; and reduced impacts on biodiversity. Recognising these benefits, UOB developed the UOB Real Estate Sustainable Finance Framework 4 to support customers operating in this segment. The construction and infrastructure sector is also a key focus for the Bank, as it is one of the most important drivers for economic growth in the region. Green infrastructure encompasses renewable energy, including solar, wind, hydro and geothermal; waste and water management and treatment; sustainable public transportation; and energy efficiency. In our view, support for these industries is crucial to drive growth more sustainably, as well as to realise the global sustainable development agenda. We co-developed the UOB Green Infrastructure Financing Framework with Sustainalytics 5, to provide sustainable solutions for our clients in the infrastructure sector. The framework covers companies that operate across the infrastructure sector, including owners, developers, contractors, suppliers and end users. Together, the UOB Real Estate Sustainable Finance Framework and the UOB Green Infrastructure Financing Framework guide the development of the following sustainable finance products:
UOB Real Estate Sustainable Finance Framework*
* In alignment to Loan Market Association/Asia Pacific Loan Market Association (LMA/APLMA) Green Loan Principles and Sustainability Linked Loan Principles.
Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, 2018 Global Status Report, 2018
Climate Bonds Initiative, Low Carbon Buildings Criteria, https://www.climatebonds.net/standard/buildings
Advised by KPMG Singapore
Reviewed by Sustainalytics as being credible and impactful
Offered in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, our U-Solar programme is Asia’s first integrated solar industry ecosystem that supports companies and consumers in the development and use of solar energy through the provision of financing solutions. Through U-Solar, we aim to help address the pain points faced by the solar energy industry value chain, from solar project developers, engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) contractors to end users across the region.
U-Solar is part of our value chain financing strategy that combines the expertise of various wholesale and retail banking teams across the Bank with the common goal of helping retail and corporate customers transition seamlessly to solar power. Through U-Solar, we hope to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy for a more sustainable future by:
supporting local solar contractors with end-to-end financing from procurement to construction, to operation and maintenance of the solar power system;
promoting awareness among companies, both commercial and industrial, as well as residential users of the benefits and savings that can be achieved by installing their own solar power system;
enabling customers to play an active role in helping their countries meet their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) or climate pledge commitments as part of the Paris Agreement; and
providing end users with standardised solar financing packages.
The U-Solar programme is designed to operate with UOB-approved solar EPC contractors in each country to ensure quality of service, and equipment and maintenance provision to our end-user customers in the commercial, industrial and residential segments.
For developers and contractors, the U-Solar programme provides them with access to green loans to help them overcome working capital challenges. For the end users of solar energy – residential, commercial and industrial users – the U-Solar programme connects them to financing solutions that enable them to benefit from quality solar panel installations and reliable performance. For residential customers in particular, we offer zero per cent interest instalment plans for the purchase of solar panel installations.
UOB Green Infrastructure Financing Framework*
Water treatment and associated distribution infrastructure
Commercial, public and residential buildings (existing and new construction)
Green Building Construction
Energy generation, manufacturing of components and construction / maintenance / expansion of associated distribution networks
Improvement on buildings, public utility networks, improvement in agricultural / aquaculture processes. Improvement and retrofitting works on industrial processes, supply chains, distribution networks and transportation infrastructure are also included.
Waste and wastewater treatment and associated infrastructure
New energy vehicles, vehicle energy efficiency and urban transportation systems.
* The Framework has been reviewed by Sustainalytics and all eligible activities has been considered to be “credible and impactful”.
Asia Impact Investment Fund (AIIF)
In 2015, UOBVM launched the first series of the AIIF to invest in growth companies in Southeast Asia and China that improve lives of lower income communities at the base of the economic pyramid. Through AIIF, UOBVM offers institutional and high-net-worth investors a strong value proposition to support sustainable growth businesses with impact-driven business models. AIIF has a double bottom line focus, valuing both financial return and social impact. Healthcare, financial inclusion and education are among the sectors that we focus on. As at December 2019, more than 16 million low-income individuals have benefitted from the efforts of AIIF’s portfolio companies.
Being a responsible fund manager and responsible investor is an ongoing commitment for UOBVM. Our team of experienced investment professionals in Singapore, China, Vietnam and Indonesia are focused on responding to progressive investment opportunities, exercising discipline in their selection process, and creating long-term value for our investors. As a fiduciary, UOBVM is committed to responsible investing and is a signatory to the PRI. It was Singapore’s first signatory to the International Finance Corporation’s Operating Principles for Impact Management in 2019.
Investing in healthcare
In 2019, UOBVM deployed capital into several healthcare technology companies in Southeast Asia and China, including Halodoc in Indonesia.
While demand for healthcare in Southeast Asia continues to grow at a rapid pace, the healthcare systems in a number of emerging countries are straining to meet the evolving needs of their growing populations. Healthcare resources and infrastructure in countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines are unevenly distributed. Hence, affordable access to healthcare services is often lacking, particularly in lower income communities and rural households. Through the introduction of new business models and effective use of technology, a number of UOBVM’s investee companies have enabled the delivery of quality healthcare to their local communities that is both cost effective and convenient.
CONTRIBUTION TO THE UN SDGs
Case Study: Halodoc
Indonesia has a population of 267 million and similar to many fast-growing developing countries, providing affordable and quality healthcare at scale remains a significant challenge. Based on World Bank data, in Indonesia, there are only four doctors per 10,000 individuals in the population, compared with the OECD average of 34 doctors per 10,000 individuals.
Owing to the skewed distribution of medical personnel, gaining access to a doctor is not always easy especially for communities located outside of major cities. A visit to a doctor in Indonesia often involves long waiting time culminating in a brief consultation. Halodoc aims to simplify access to healthcare services through its platform, by integrating online and offline components of the healthcare ecosystem. Leveraging technology, Halodoc’s app and website now enable patients in Indonesia to gain access to doctors, including specialists, within a minute through online consultations, and to have their medication delivered to them within 45 minutes. This significantly improves the patient experience.
"We are delighted to have UOBVM onboard, their sustainable and impact investing DNA is something we appreciate and resonate with. Halodoc is committed to simplifying and improving healthcare access in Indonesia, and values the support of like-minded partners and investors."
Founder & CEO of Halodoc
The impact of AIIF
farmers reached through introduction of higher-value crops, inputs and technology.
Access to Finance
micro-entrepreneurs in Indonesia and Myanmar have gained access to finance, helping them to build or invest further in their business or agriculture endeavours.
individuals including 2.1 million infants in poverty-stricken countries have gained access to nutritional supplements, reducing anaemia, and malnutrition. More than 1 million patients in less developed parts in Indonesia and the Philippines gained healthcare access.
youths from low-income households have gained access to quality educational content, improving individual learning outcomes and national education outcomes.
The Unlimited: Creating job opportunities for persons with disabilities
Following a study
6 conducted with 220 business leaders across various industries in Singapore to find out corporate willingness to hire persons with disabilities, we launched The Unlimited, a first-of-its-kind tripartite collaboration among the private, public and people sectors. Through our collaboration with SG Enable, Autism Resource Centre (ARC), Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) and SPD, we guide companies through the inclusive hiring process to make it easier for them to hire persons with disabilities (PWDs). Under The Unlimited, UOB acts as the private sector catalyst for inclusive hiring, engaging companies to raise their awareness and to generate interest in the hiring of persons with disabilities. SG Enable provides advisory services, training resources and knowledge-sharing workshops, while ARC, MINDS and SPD provide the domain expertise and experience to identify potential employees from their client pool and to provide them with both pre- and post-employment support. Since the July 2019 launch of The Unlimited, which was witnessed by the Singapore Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee and attended by 174 corporate leaders in Singapore, we engaged 162 companies, of which 22 companies indicated their interest in employing persons with disabilities. In addition to The Unlimited, UOB frequently engages companies to help share insights into inclusive hiring as a business advantage. For example, we co-organised with Pan Pacific Hotels Group and SG Enable the Inclusion Seminar 2019: Moving from Corporate Social Responsibility to Corporate Strategy. With support from the Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Social and Family Development, the event centred on inclusive hiring strategies that contribute to company performance and improved employee engagement. Further, we continue to host companies at the UOB Scan Hub to share our experience in inclusive hiring. We also work with SG Enable and tertiary institutions to offer UOB summer internships to students with disabilities, in order to provide them with the opportunity to receive on-the-job training and mentorship, which prepares them for eventual employment. Integrating persons with disabilities into the work environment, and recognising their capabilities, help to create a more caring and inclusive society. UOB will continue to share the positive outcomes from its own experience of working with persons with disabilities, with its business and client network through The Unlimited.
Senior leaders from UOB and our partners at the launch of The Unlimited.
Making it easier to hire persons with disabilities
CONTRIBUTION TO THE UN SDGs
UOB commissioned independent research agency, InsightzClub, to conduct the study in July 2019.