Green to gold: Introducing the MSc in Sustainable and Green Finance at NUS Business School

NUS Business School recently launched an exciting (and relevant) new master’s in sustainable finance. We spoke to Associate Professor Weina Zhang, Academic Director of the MSc in Sustainable and Green Finance, to learn more about the program as well as the state of sustainability in Asia.

In short

What is green finance?

While the concept of “green finance” is not clearly defined, it essentially refers to the “financial investment flowing [into] sustainable projects and initiatives,” Weina explains. “It can also flow into environmental products and policies that encourage the development of a more sustainable economy.” (01:46)

Examples of green finance range from “green mutual funds,” in which you invest in companies that provide goods and services that are environmentally friendly. It also includes “green credit cards,” in which users earn additional rewards for every dollar spent on sustainable activities.

“Green finance is very broad. It can include climate finance, but it is not limited to it,” Weina says. “It also can refer to a wide range of other environmental objectives, such as industry pollution control, water sanitation, or biodiversity protection.” (02:05)

Why study a master’s in sustainable finance?

The Master’s in Sustainable and Green Finance at NUS Business School is an intensive 12-month program. It offers courses like “Corporate Governance and Sustainability,” “Impact Assessment and Impact Investing,” and “Sustainability Risk Management.” The program concludes with a Capstone Project sourced from the industry.

It is open to anyone who is passionate about contributing to the sustainable corporate and finance sectors. It provides students with fundamental financial knowledge and principles. “All of these will help them step up to tackle more challenging issues in a sustainable finance sector,” Weina says. “(04:51)

With a master’s in sustainable finance in hand, graduates can choose from a variety of career options. This includes jobs in the corporate sector, the financial sector, as well as government agencies and NGOs.

Ultimately, graduates of this innovative new program “should be able to contribute to a more sustainable society and a greener planet,” Weina states. (03:24)

The state of sustainability in Asia

Most businesses today acknowledge the need for climate action, including in Asia. 

While there is still a long way to go, countries in Asia are placing more and more importance on sustainability. To encourage sustainable investments, countries like India, Malaysia, and Thailand published ESG guidelines and reporting. Hong Kong and Singapore are also striving to establish themselves as hubs for sustainable finance.

“Our program aims to fill the critical gap in our world of rising social and environmental challenges in an Asian context,” Weina tells us. “Traditionally, we see the talents in sustainable finance are usually coming from American or European universities. But, we also realize that there are a lot of contextualized challenges and issues related to the Asian region. We find a pressing need to prepare our future generation to tackle the contextualized sustainable issues in Asia.” (03:35)

Learning to build a sustainable future

The effects of climate change becoming increasingly severe (and irreversible). Thus, programs like the MSc in Sustainable and Green Finance at NUS Business School are vital.

“I believe that our new master’s program is the first in Singapore and possibly in Asia,” Weina reveals. “There is a very hot debate about whether only the developed countries should contribute to a more sustainable future. The challenges faced by a lot of developing countries are economic development. We hope that by introducing our educational program, we can provide new solutions that are going to achieve both economic development as well as sustainable development outcomes.” (06:10)

NUS has also recently set up the Sustainable and Green Finance Institute (SGFIN), a research institute supported by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). SGFIN aims to conduct cutting-edge research, offer new educational programs (like the MSc in Sustainable and Green Finance), develop an impact assessment framework, and provide thought leadership to shape sustainability outcomes and policymaking.

A lot of the discourse around climate change can be overwhelming – what can we do? Is it too late? If you’re looking to gain important knowledge and skills to make a real impact, a master’s in sustainable finance might be the springboard you need to turn ideas into action and build a better a sustainable future.

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