Unleashing the Potential of Islamic Finance: Global Perspectives on Achieving the SDGs with Islamic Finance Tools & Conceptsa new report from the International Federation of Accountants, Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) and the World Bank Group Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Finance Hub in Malaysia (World Bank) looks at the opportunities presented by Islamic finance, practical examples of its usage from Malaysia, and future pathways towards addressing challenges and unlocking the full potential of Islamic finance to support the SDGs.

The report was released at the ‘Innovation in Sustainable Development: Islamic Finance Paving the Way’ event hosted by MIA in Kuala Lumpur featuring a keynote address from IFAC president Asmâa Resmouki.

In recent years, addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has become increasingly challenging. The worldwide economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the already significant USD4.2 trillion funding gap to achieve the SDGs. As countries worldwide strive to finance the ambitious scope and scale of the SDGs, they also face the complex task of serving financially underserved communities. Advancing Islamic finance has the potential not only to serve usually underbanked Muslim communities but has broader application considering its synergies with the SDGs.

A major tenet of Islamic finance is the protection of people, planet, and prosperity, and its underpinnings can contribute to fresh thinking on sustainable development paradigms, interpretations, and approaches. The SDGs create opportunities for Islamic finance growth, just as Islamic finance can drive greater sustainable development.

Malaysia has become a pioneer of Islamic finance, attributed in part to its strong governance, supportive regulatory ecosystem, and the pivotal role of a local professional accountancy organisation, MIA, in education and stakeholder outreach. Though every jurisdiction’s use of Islamic finance would work differently, Malaysia and MIA can serve as examples to learn from.

Commenting on this, Resmouki said: “Professional accountancy organisations are playing a key role in advancing sustainable financing, and given the profession’s commitment to support the SDGs, principles of Islamic finance should be considered a viable approach.

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“We encourage all IFAC members to look towards best practices such as those cultivated in Malaysia, and seize opportunities presented in their own jurisdictions.”