On 29 May 2019, Kommunalbanken Norway (KBN) hosted the EAPB workshop “Public Banks in Sustainable Finance”. The session, attended by more than twenty participants from several member institutions, gave an overview to what extent and in which ways sustainable finance plays a role in the different members’ businesses.

The workshop was opened by the Vice-Mayor of Oslo, Mr. Robert Steen who shared insights on how the city of Oslo aims to achieve a zero-emission economy and explained how the city already managed to reduce emissions significantly. He stressed the importance of different policy departments working together instead of each pursuing its own path.

Joining via video conference, Bettina Kretschmer from the Directorate General of Environment introduced the different aspects of the regulatory developments of the Sustainable Finance framework. She put particular emphasis on the necessity of implementing a Green Bond Standard and the use of a Taxonomy which would enable a common framework for sustainability in finance.

Mr. Marius Ruud, Senior Vice President at KBN, and Mr. Matjaž Stritih, Director of Institutions and Funds Execution at SID Banka, both described their experiences with issuing green bonds. Mr. Ruud presented the evolution of KBN’s Green Issuance Strategy and gave insights on how the rating agency Cicero evaluates the projects and KBN reports on sustainability factors. Mr. Stritih explained the reasons why issuing Green Bonds is financially attractive to SID Banka and stressed the importance of hiring independent sustainability rating agencies.

The increasing role of Social Bonds was made clear by Mr. Tom Meuwissen from Nederlandse Waterschapsbank (NWB) and Mr. Ralf Berninger, Head of Investor Relations at Société de financement local (SFIL). Mr. Meuwissen outlined the success NWB experienced with issuing Water Bonds as well as Affordable Housing Bonds and emphasized the increasing demand from investors for transparency of their investments. Mr. Berninger explained that Social Bonds issued by SFIL are used to finance the portfolio of loans to French public hospitals. Furthermore, SFIL would be developing its own green bond framework and scoring system.

Public promotional banks are pioneering in the field of sustainable finance. Since their mandate is to promote sustainable economic and social development, many of them are active in issuing these bonds for years, while others currently seek inspiration to do so as well. Our members consider the goal of an entirely sustainable economy one of their main priorities, especially in view of recent political developments such as the Paris Climate Agreement.

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