Why does sustainable finance matter?

Sustainable finance has emerged as a critical issue in the global financial landscape as investors are increasingly shifting towards assets with positive social impact.

Md Touhidul Alam Khan

Md Touhidul Alam Khan

The Daily Star


April 21, 2023

DHAKA – Sustainable finance has emerged as a critical issue in the global financial landscape as investors are increasingly shifting towards assets with positive social impact, taking into account environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria.

To support sustainable finance, several initiatives have been introduced.

The global sustainability programme aims to provide high-quality data and analysis on natural capital and ecosystem services to support informed decision-making by governments, private-sector entities, and financial institutions.

The sovereign ESG data portal offers comprehensive data and insights on the ESG performance of countries, helping investors and stakeholders make informed decisions about sustainable investments.

The International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation established the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) in November 2021, the first of its kind. The ISSB aims to provide a comprehensive global baseline of sustainability standards and reporting requirements that evaluate and measure companies’ environmental, social, and governance performance.

The climate support facility, launched in December 2020, manages funding from Germany, the UK, and Austria, under a green recovery initiative. The facility offers technical assistance and advisory services to support the transition to a more sustainable future and help countries build a low-carbon, climate-resilient recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The IFC Edge, a platform developed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), offers tools to assess and improve companies’ ESG performance. The platform aims to help companies become more sustainable, resilient, and competitive in an increasingly ESG-conscious business landscape.

The Joint Capital Market Programme (J-CAP) is a five-year initiative focused on six priority countries and one sub-region. The programme mobilises World Bank technical assistance and IFC demonstration transactions to support green bond issuance, market development, and green regulatory frameworks, working to green the financial system and drive sustainable finance efforts globally.

Despite facing challenges, the importance of ESG investments can’t be understated, and the work of the World Bank Group’s long-term finance unit and other stakeholders in promoting sustainable finance globally is commendable. It is essential to continue efforts towards a more secure and equitable future.

In Bangladesh, banks and financial institutions are actively promoting sustainable finance through various initiatives such as green loans, financing for renewable energy projects, and support for socially responsible investment products.

The government has also introduced regulatory measures such as tax incentives for environmentally friendly investments and established a green bond and sukuk market. These endeavours are significant for achieving sustainable development goals while fostering the growth of the financial sector in Bangladesh.

On a global scale, sustainable finance is imperative for a secure and equitable future, and key initiatives like the global sustainability programme, the sovereign ESG data portal, the climate support facility, the IFC Edge, and the J-CAP play an important role.

Bangladesh is also taking proactive measures to promote sustainable finance, which is essential to achieve SDGs while promoting financial sector growth. To realise a more sustainable and equitable future for all, it is required to continue supporting sustainable finance efforts with a view to moving towards a greener world.

The writer is the first certified sustainability reporting assurer in Bangladesh

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