MANAMA: The world needs financing of about $5 trillion each year to make the necessary progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a top UN official has said.
According to UN resident co-ordinator and UN Secretary General’s representative in Bahrain Amin El Sharkawi, with $2.5trn accounted as annual deficit governments have to make partnerships with financial institutions for financing sustainable development.
“It has been determined that it is impossible for conventional finance to handle SDGs investment alone. The special nature of Islamic finance, its objectives and principles focusing on the concept of building, creating and on the planet as well as investment in human capital makes Islamic financing a natural alley for SDGs investments,” he said.
He was speaking during a Press conference on the sidelines of the first series of General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (Cibafi)-United Nations joint executive knowledge-sharing forum themed The Role of Islamic Finance in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals: Opportunities and Challenges at the Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence and Spa.
Mr El Sharkawi said, however, the Islamic financial industry itself is still in need of a strong enabling environment.
“Undoubtedly, strengthening partnerships between stakeholders and exchanging knowledge between Islamic and non-Islamic financial institution, international and national institutions: governmental and private is key to fund SDGs investment.”
The forum was attended by senior executives of Islamic financial institutions across various countries, UN officials from the Mena region and beyond, as well as high-level representatives from multilateral institutions, international and national regulatory bodies, policy-makers, inter-governmental agencies and the academia from 20 countries.
Dr Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Under-Secretary of International Affairs in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said discussions are on to set up a Bahrain-UN trust fund where banks can contribute to projects that focus on education, health coverage, access to energy, social housing and environmental protection.
“Undoubtedly, strengthening partnerships between stakeholders and exchanging knowledge between Islamic and non-Islamic financial institution, international and national institutions: governmental and private is key to fund SDGs investment,” he added.
Dr Abdelilah Belatik, secretary general of Cibafi, said, “Global challenges require global action, thus Cibafi is pleased to have organised this forum in partnership with the United Nations to discuss and share views on the global sustainable development agenda and how Islamic finance is seen as an alternative mode of financing its goals.”
The first session of the forum themed Alignment Between Sustainability and Islamic Financial Services Industry provided an overview of the principles as well as the challenges underpinning the financing of the SDGs and how Islamic finance serves as an emerging and effective tool for supporting and achieving the goals of the Sustainable Development Agenda.
The first day of the forum was concluded with the third session titled Zakat and Waqf as Tools for Financial Inclusion and Shared Prosperity.
This session examined the use of resources from waqf and zakat to finance microfinance and qard al hasan programmes as well as it discussed the characteristics of specific financing programmes and tools in the Islamic economy that present opportunities to mobilise additional untapped resources for poverty alleviation and financial inclusion.
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