AIA sees scope to finance sustainable energy in Asia

Developing and rural parts of the region need a more tailored financial approach to fund energy transition, according to the group CIO of the Hong Kong-based insurer.
AIA sees scope to finance sustainable energy in Asia

Hong Kong-based AIA Group believes that some of Asia’s developing regions have the potential to further support energy transition into more sustainable sources, with the insurance group seeing a business model to finance it.

Mark Konyn

At the same time, investors and the financial sector need to innovate on financing models to ensure the overall energy transition push, Mark Konyn, group chief investment officer at AIA, said on stage at the inaugural One Earth Summit in Hong Kong on March 25.

During a panel discussion focusing on the future of sustainable finance, Konyn pointed out the relevance of also spreading the existing technological opportunities beyond the reach of more traditional financing in developed countries and areas.

“One of the things of energy transition is to promote a fair transition. We have already heard estimates for the cost of transitioning our dependency on fossil fuels, but the real problem gets felt within the poorer communities,” Konyn said.


To push the energy transition in developing regions, AIA is working with LeapFrog Investments, a private investment firm that invests in high-growth financial services, healthcare, and climate solutions companies in emerging markets in Asia and Africa.

Konyn mentioned a model where solar panels are getting deployed into local communities among more rural areas of Asia with less access to the main energy grids. That strategy is less about applying new technology, and more about utilising a proven and existing technology that is ready and available.

“Pushing out this financing model to those communities out there — which don’t have access to the banking system as we know it in the developed parts of the region — extends a financing program so they can participate [in energy transition],” Konyn said.

AIA is a major insurer in Asia, with $268.5 billion in total investments at the end of 2023. It has a presence in 18 markets across Asia Pacific.


AIA’s group CIO also called it “absolutely critical” to change business models for greater collaboration and partnerships to ensure energy transition financing.

Konyn said that the financial community has struggled with this task.

“On one hand you are trying to look forward and come up with financing models that will be productive and support the transition. And on the other hand your current revenue is dependent on the existing business models,” Konyn said.

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To try and transition through that dilemma, AIA is working with several banks, and the group CIO found these banks to be “quite forward-looking” when it came to solving the issues.

“We had a big workshop last week where they literally had dismantled their existing advisory model and brought in new blood, new expertise to help forge those relationships,” Konyn said.


As a long-term investor, Konyn believes that AIA can provide stable capital through the business cycle and beyond.

He mentioned blended finance as an area of potential, albeit with the short-term risk of ensuring the smooth shift from conventional fossil fuels to renewable energy, with the need for the public sector to play a role.

“Although we are there for long-term financing, historically within the banking community a lot of that debt is repaid very early, which is a disadvantage to us because that is a disappointment if we are making capital and putting it aside for long-term projects,” Konyn said, adding:

“So what we want to see is innovation in the financing model as well, which can preserve the long-term nature of our interest.”

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