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Roundtable discussion about the rise of green bonds

As the demand for green investments grows, investors, issuers and researchers gathered in Stockholm to discuss the need to create a common framework and how green bonds can stimulate sustainable investments going forward.

Stockholm Sustainable Finance Centre, together with Stockholm County Council, initiated a round table discussion on 24 October. The theme of the roundtable was "The next steps for green bonds and sustainable investments." Frida Korneliusson, CEO SLL Internfinans, and Charlotta Brask, sustainability manager SLL, gave evidence of the positive effects of working with green bonds within the Stockholm County Council. This work puts a clear focus on the overall sustainability efforts, but also on the attractiveness of green investments to investors.

Aaron Maltais, from the Stockholm Environment Institute, highlighted the positive effects of working with green bonds for action on the global threat of climate change and for raising the profile of the full range of sustainability work an organisation engages in. The integration of sustainability thinking throughout an organisation’s functions is another clear benefit of working with green bonds, and both issuers and investors report that the green bond investment relationship creates valuable learning opportunities between companies and sectors. But there is still work to be done before the effects of green bonds will be completely clear for investors and the overall market.

One challenge is in measuring and evaluating the sustainability impact. A framework1, developed by a group of Nordic public sector issuers of green bonds2, among them the Stockholm County Council, was discussed. The framework sets a standard for the impact of sustainable investments, including methods of measuring, reporting, indicators and transparency. “It is now gratifying to see that our work is the starting point for the development of an international standard for green bonds now being discussed,” says Frida Korneliusson.

-Today's research shows that many people who work with different types of sustainable investments need a clearer common structure to be able to evaluate them properly, explained Aaron Maltais, SEI. A challenge for green bonds is therefore to measure the effects in a credible and comparable way so that issuers and investors can identify the most impactful projects and investments.

- Our discussions at the seminar highlighted the balancing act between wanting to communicate impact and the burden of reporting. As the credibility of green bonds largely hinges on their impact, finding the right balance here is a nut that the industry is going to have to crack, and hopefully academic research can support them in this pursuit, says Dr. Emma Sjöström, Research Fellow at Misum, Stockholm School of Economics, and roundtable moderator.

SOURCES

1) Nordic Public Sector Issuers: Position Paper on Green Bonds Impact Reporting. October 2017.
2) Participants (DK=Denmark, FI=Finland, NO=Norway, SE=Sweden): City of Göteborg (SE), Kommunalbanken (NO), Kommuninvest (SE), Municipality Finance (FI), Municipality of Norrköping (SE), Municipality of Örebro (SE), Stockholm County Council, SLL (SE),Swedish Export Credit Corporation, SEK (SE). Kommunekredit (DK) has participated in the group as an observer, with the intention .

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