ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2021

The ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) is a prestigious annual gathering that draws the attention of Heads of State, Presidents, Prime Ministers, business tycoons, and thought leaders from the ASEAN region and across the globe. This year, the event takes on a unique significance as it is hosted by Brunei and conducted online. In this article, we will delve into the highlights of the summit, focusing on its potential impact on sustainable development and introducing a novel concept brought forth by attendee Carl Islam—a fusion of charitable trusts and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) funds for ethical financing of social projects.

ASEAN Business and Investment Summit: A Beacon of Leadership

The ASEAN Business and Investment Summit serves as a prominent platform for addressing the pressing issues facing Southeast Asia while fostering discussions on sustainable economic growth. With the participation of high-profile leaders, including Heads of State and business magnates, ABIS is the epicentre of ideas and strategies aimed at ensuring the continued growth and inclusivity of the vibrant ASEAN economies.

Inclusivity in a Digital Age

As the world marches into a digital age, ABIS 2021 becomes increasingly pivotal. The summit offers an opportunity for both the public and private sectors to come together and explore ways to promote inclusive and sustainable growth within this evolving landscape. The digital age presents both opportunities and challenges, and discussions at ABIS are expected to revolve around leveraging technology for socio-economic advancement while addressing issues like cybersecurity and digital divide.

Carl Islam: A Visionary in Ethical Finance

One of the prominent attendees at ABIS 2021 is Carl Islam, a visionary thinker in the realm of ethical finance. Carl’s presence at the summit sparks curiosity about his recent proposal—combining the principles of a charitable trust with the functionality of an ESG fund. His idea aims to revolutionise the financing of social projects, particularly in sectors like cultural heritage.

The Charitable Trust and ESG Fund Fusion

Carl’s proposal suggests creating a financial structure that merges the essence of a charitable trust with the efficiency of an ESG fund. The primary goal of this innovative approach is to promote ethical financing for social projects, especially in areas where cultural heritage preservation is essential. By blending the two concepts, Carl envisions a system that not only generates financial returns but also contributes to the betterment of society.

While the concept is still in its infancy, it has the potential to transform the way social projects are funded. Traditional charitable trusts rely on donations and philanthropy, which can be inconsistent and limited in scope. On the other hand, ESG funds prioritise investments that align with environmental, social, and governance principles, aiming to generate financial returns while making a positive impact.

Carl’s concept bridges the gap by creating a mechanism where individuals and organisations can invest their funds with the assurance that they are contributing to social causes while also expecting a reasonable return on their investments. This innovative fusion could prove invaluable in financing projects related to cultural heritage preservation, which often struggle to secure consistent funding.

The Search for Precedents

Carl Islam’s proposal raises the question of whether similar initiatives have been undertaken elsewhere. Has anyone successfully combined the features of a charitable trust with an ESG fund to support ethical financing for social projects, particularly cultural heritage endeavours?

As of now, it’s unclear whether such a precedent exists. Carl’s idea appears to be ground-breaking, potentially paving the way for a new wave of financial instruments designed to support critical social causes. The summit may provide a platform for further exploration of this concept, potentially leading to collaborative efforts among attendees to research and develop this innovative financial model.


The ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2021 stands as a beacon of leadership and collaboration in a digital age fraught with challenges and opportunities. Attendees like Carl Islam bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the forefront, including the fusion of charitable trusts and ESG funds for ethical financing of social projects. While the concept is still in its infancy, it holds the promise of reshaping the financing landscape for cultural heritage preservation and other critical social causes. As the summit progresses, it remains to be seen how Carl’s proposal and similar ideas will evolve, potentially paving the way for a brighter, more inclusive future in Southeast Asia and beyond.

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