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G20, world makes huge strides on green finance in just one year

The G20 and other nations have taken huge strides over the last year towards mobilizing the trillions of dollars of public and private capital needed to make sustainable development and climate action a reality, according to new UN Environment research released today.

UN Conference on Trade and Development research from 2015 showed that the investment required to bring sustainable development in developing countries was short US$2.5 trillion each year, with as much as ten times that needed globally in the years to come – mainly from private sources.

However, the UN Environment Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System’s Green Finance Progress Report – a contribution to the G20’s Green Finance Study Group (GFSG) – finds dozens of encouraging policies and financial product developments that show the public and private sectors are serious about changing this trend.

“The world has committed to creating a better future for people and planet. But we will not be able to achieve our sustainable vision without the global financial system using its capital to fuel the transformation,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

“This new research from UN Environment, a contribution to the G20 Green Finance Study Group, shows encouraging progress in this regard. From a record number of new green finance measures to ambitious plans for green finance hubs, we are seeing the smart money move to green financing.”

Highlights from the report

Green financing at scale will be critical to achieve the G20’s goal of securing balanced and sustained growth. Establishing the GFSG during China’s G20 Presidency last year showed the G20 understood this – reinforced by Germany’s decision to continue the work during its G20 Presidency this year.

The G20 Green Finance Synthesis Report, adopted at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hangzhou in September 2016, set out seven options identified by the GFSG to accelerate the mobilization of green finance.

Over the last year, considerable progress has been made against these seven options by all G20 members, and the international community, in increasingly systemic national action, greater international cooperation, and increased market leadership.

More measures related to green finance have been introduced since June 2016 compared with any other one-year period since 2000. The trends and measures have resulted in increased flows of green finance, most notably in the issuance of green bonds, which grew by around 100 per cent to US$81 billion in 2016.

These changes to the financial rules of the game have helped drive the reallocation of capital in financial and capital markets. A comprehensive review looking beyond green finance to assess sustainable finance more broadly indicates that global sustainably managed assets under management have increased by 25 per cent compared to the last survey undertaken in 2014.

Encouraging positive feedback loops are emerging. Increases in green bond primary market issuance have improved secondary market liquidity, allowing new funds to open and operate within existing liquidity and credit-worthiness constraints. Four new green bond funds launched in the first quarter of 2017.

According to the report, the progress made nationally, internationally and in financial and capital markets shows that financial system is reshaping itself to align with the sustainable development imperatives of the 21st century.

“The challenge now is to rapidly increase capital flows to investments that will support our sustainable development objectives and create commercially viable green businesses for decades to come,” said Solheim. “The G20 and others have set the wheels in motion. Now is the time to press hard on the accelerator.”

To read the full article from UNEP, please click here.