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Creating a “Digital-Green” Ecosystem is Critical for ASEAN

06 Jun Creating a “Digital-Green” Ecosystem is Critical for ASEAN

Media Release
For Immediate Release 

Creating a “Digital-Green” Ecosystem is Critical for ASEAN
Special report by the SIIA calls for digitalisation and decarbonisation to be considered in tandem to achieve sustainable growth for the region 

6 June 2023- Against the backdrop of geopolitical tensions and macroeconomic risks, ASEAN governments have prioritised the development of their respective digital and green economies. With both cross-cutting issues embedded in the modern economy, current regulatory frameworks around related policies must be updated. A supporting ecosystem of data infrastructure, data flows, access to renewable energy and harmonised regulations will be crucial for this digital-green growth to occur.  

These recommendations were shared in a report by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) that was launched today at the Asia Tech x Singapore (ATxSG), co-organised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) Singapore and InformaTech. 

The report titled “Building a Digital-Green ASEAN: Growing Intersections between Digital Growth and Sustainability Goals”, underlines that digital transformation and green transition are the twin engines needed for ASEAN to realistically achieve its net-zero goals.  

Through a lens of innovation, inclusion, interoperability and sustainability, the SIIA conducted closed-door roundtables and interviews to garner insights from policymakers and the private sector between September 2021 to April 2023, which feeds into the report. With the lifting of travel restrictions, the SIIA also conducted policy research trips for this report to the ASEAN key economies of Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

The report also highlights various tools to boost ASEAN cooperation to create policy as well as physical infrastructure for a digital and green ecosystem. In doing so, ASEAN and Singapore are well-positioned to advance the coupling of digitalisation and decarbonisation for a future of accelerated low-carbon growth. 

“The expansion of ASEAN’s digital economy has enormous potential, but a constraint to digital growth will be carbon,” Ms. Janessa Kong, Senior Policy Research Analyst, SIIA. “There is an opportunity for digitalisation to drive decarbonisation and vice versa, and ASEAN is a region with strong potential for this transition to happen,” Ms. Kong added.  

“The emergence of Digital Economy Agreements (DEA) and Green Economy Agreements (GEA) will become pathfinders towards a future where digital-green chapters are found in global trade standards; a future where digital and green jargon is accepted and established as the norm in society,” Associate Professor Simon Tay, Chairman, SIIA.  

The “Building a Digital-Green ASEAN” report outlines some key areas for cooperation, and these include:  

For Digital Economy Actors: 

  1. End-to-end supply chain digitalisation  
  2. Greening data centres  


For Digital Policymakers:  

  1. Enable cross-border data flows  
  2. Harmonise standards in Digital and Green Economy Agreements  
  3. Incorporate the digital-green agenda into existing ASEAN mechanisms 


Wider economy changes:  

  1. Connect ASEAN’s carbon markets  
  2. Develop a regional, renewable power grid  
  3. Foster innovation  
  4. Bridge the skills gap  
  5. Promote digital-green norms  


The “Building a Digital-Green ASEAN” report, sponsored by Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA), Equinix, Huawei, Microsoft, and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), can be downloaded from the SIIA website at this link.  

For further enquiries, please contact the SIIA:  

Media Contacts
Ms. Rohini Nambiar
Assistant Director, Policy Programmes and Media
Email: Rohini.nambiar@siiaonline.org  

About the Singapore Institute of International Affairs 

Insights ● Networks ● Access 

Established in 1962, the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) is a non-profit and independent think tank committed to producing policy analysis, fostering in-depth dialogues and bridging gaps between policymakers, private sector decision-makers and experts to shape public policy and social responses. Centred around ASEAN focused themes, the institute aims to deliver policy analysis in international affairs and on issues driving environmental sustainability. The SIIA has been consistently ranked as one of the leading think tanks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, in the Global Go To Think Tank Index by the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2017, the SIIA was ranked the No. 1 independent think tank in Asia. It was also recognised as one of the top 50 think tanks globally, excluding the United States of America. For two consecutive years since 2019, it was recognised as the No. 1 think tank in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific (excluding India). In 2020, it was also recognised as one of the think tanks with the best policy and institutional response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

About the SIIA’s ASEAN Programme 

The SIIA’s ASEAN programme produces policy analyses and facilitates dialogue on how politics and socioeconomic policies in ASEAN impact business and investment in the region. Our work focuses on key ASEAN economies with major partners including China, Japan, the USA and the EU. As a speciality, the SIIA is working to foster ASEAN’s digital economy: for integrated, equitable and sustainable policies and to develop a network of regional digital economies for inclusive and sustainable growth.  

The SIIA has done key work on Myanmar and Indonesia, providing assistance and advice in close cooperation with their government agencies. Key research output includes special reports evaluating the changing political and economic landscape as well as the business and investment opportunities of the respective countries. Our annual flagship dialogue, the ASEAN & Asia Forum (AAF) brings policymakers and the business community together to discuss the region’s political, economic and strategic challenges.