PETALING JAYA (Dec 31, 2012): The World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) has urged the financial industry to ensure companies it provides services to are involved in sustainable practices.
"Financial institutions should attach a sustainability criteria to their lending and investment conditions, especially with regard to natural resource extraction activities in the forest and oil palm sectors as they play a key role in conserving Malaysia's biodiversity and developing a low carbon economy," said WWF-Malaysia executive director/CEO Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma in a statement recently.
The call is timely as banking giant HSBC recently came under fire from a London-based advocacy group, Global Witness, which claimed the bank has been providing financial services to logging companies suspected of unsustainable logging practices in Sarawak's tropical rainforests.
With WWF-Malaysia's proposal, banks will have to maintain a sustainability criteria by not bankrolling such errant companies.
Sharma also said WWF-Malaysia's 2013 conservation agenda would include issues of climate change, conservation and restoration of priority habitats, and the protection of Malaysia's critically endangered terrestrial species such as the Sumatran rhinoceros, Malayan tiger, orang utan and Asian elephant. Marine turtles, painted terrapins and groupers, including the humphead wrasse, are also listed.
"WWF-Malaysia will continue to work with other governments on cross-border cooperation in environmental management initiatives," he said.
"On top of that, we are looking to hire environmental economists as we need professionals to study the environmental impact of economic decisions and sustainable development. We have to start investing in natural capital," he added.