EU4Environment held a session on sustainability/green bonds in the Eastern Partner countries and Kazakhstan as part of the Sustainable Finance Forum in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA). The event was organised virtually on 7 and 8 April 2022.
The main objective of the session was to share practitioners’ experience with issuing green bonds, discuss potential benefits of and challenges to using green bonds, and provide practical suggestions to newcomers in this market on how to approach a first green bond issuance. The session allowed to present some of the emerging findings from analysis carried out by OECD as part of the EU4Environment work on the role that debt capital markets in the EECCA countries can play in financing long-term green infrastructure investments in this region.
The session was joined by representatives of Ameriabank, the first commercial bank in Armenia that issued two green bonds over the past two years, as well as Sustainalytics, a provider of Second-Party Opinions for green, social and sustainability bonds issuers. The panellists shared their first-hand experience with designing and executing green bonds and discussed the main challenges that issuers face when they go to the capital market to raise funds for green investments.
Some of the major issues that were discussed at the session include:
- After years of lagging behind other parts of the world, the EECCA region has seen a significant increase in green bond issuance over the past few years. Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan issued green bonds. Both financial institutions and corporates were among the main issuers.
- Development of the regular capital market, its regulation and institutional infrastructure, is a major precondition for the expansion of the green bond markets. When new financial instruments, such as green or sustainability bonds, are introduced they should not fragment already small and illiquid markets, as many of the markets in the region are. Without a solid regulatory basis and oversight, greenwashing could discredit the market more broadly.
- Issuers need to put in place credible green finance frameworks with clear but straightforward taxonomies and disclosure rules. Such rules would be convincing for investors and could attract more investors to subscribe to a bond. Clear rules and impact indicators also help lay the basis for good monitoring and reporting on impact results.
- Well-designed project portfolios and identification of underlying assets suitable for bond market (re)financing is a cornerstone for the success of the bond issuance. Issuers may need technical support with the preparation and implementation of green bond financing. The engagement of IFIs, also in their role as anchor investor, will likely remain essential in this process in the near/medium future in the region.
The Sustainable Finance Forum is an annual forum for banks, microfinance institutions, asset managers, project sponsors, investors and financiers in the EECCA countries that are committed to creating a social and environmental impact in the region. The goal of the Forum is to catalyse investments for sustainable infrastructure and development in the region, by creating dialogue, sharing best practices, lessons learned, and networking.
To learn more about the Forum, please visit its web-page: https://www.susfinforum.com/.
Sustainability bonds: hype or long-lasting development (Alexander Lehmann, GFA, Bruegel and Frankfurt School of Finance).