Last Update: 12 July, 2023

Historically, big business and capitalism have been regarded as accelerators of climate change: From “the great smog of London” arising from the Industrial Revolution (powerfully depicted in Netflix series The Crown), to currently unsustainable livestock practices that—according to the United Nations—contribute 14.5 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.

At the 27th Future of Asia conference in Tokyo in May 2022, conversations emerged about Southeast Asia’s role and capacity to contribute to global crises.

In 2021, the top ten most expensive environmental disasters cost over US$1.5 billion each. Hurricane Ida in the United States tops the list at US$65 billion in damages (Christian Aid Report, 2021). With climate change being a key driver behind such frightening figures, it is no surprise that the principle of accountability is being widely incorporated across industries, including the finance sector.

What does the future hold for cities? On 2 August 2022, SMU President Professor Lily Kong, was joined by a diverse group of leaders to discuss how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the evolving role of cities. Each speaker shared examples from their home country, with a special focus on Asia.