Kuala Lumpur – MENA Herald: The growth in Asia’s middle class—from 525 million today to over 3.5 billion by 2030 according to EY—will drive significant changes in the demand for financial services as the economic centre of gravity shifts eastward. To meet the expectations of a new consumer base and support its growth, the financial sector must strive for better integration of responsible finance principles by banks, investment managers, insurers and pension funds.

The upcoming Responsible Finance Summit in March, hosted by Bank Negara Malaysia, organised by the RFI Foundation and co-organised by Middle East Global Advisors, will address the challenge of how Islamic finance can help create and support a thriving middle classes in emerging markets.

The rising economic power in emerging markets—and particularly emerging Asia—is of critical interest for investors who integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) data into their financial analysis and who must seek out tomorrow’s sustainable growth opportunities. Asia is also home to the majority of the world’s Muslims and the demand from Muslim consumers has sparked Islamic finance which has become a mainstream component of many financial systems.

The leaders coming together at the Summit represent two important approaches responsible finance—ESG integration and Islamic finance—and will discuss strategies to support inclusive financial sector and economic development.

Speaking ahead of the Summit, the CEO of the RFI Foundation, Blake Goud, shared: “Many investors are looking for growth in markets which have developed a savings culture and domestic financial markets with strong retail participation. Expanding financial inclusion through Islamic finance can help create these conditions which support a self-reinforcing cycle of inclusive economic growth.”

With the theme “Unlocking Finance, Expanding Impact”, the Summit aims to identify ways that Islamic finance can be recognized for its key role in supporting financial stability and inclusive growth. For more information on the Summit, please visit rf-summit.com. Join the conversation on responsible finance at #RFS2016 @RFIFoundation.