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Sustainable Global Economic Development 101: Sustainable Global Finance Methods


Foreword

This series of articles provides a detailed explanation of sustainable global economic development, issues that arise, ways of addressing these complex problems, and benefits for nature, humanity, and the world economy. The series of articles emphasize the essence of making global finance and the economy more sustainable and reveal the steps to achieve these goals. The importance of the series is that the aspects of the topic described in the articles concern everyone, and each reader can understand what factors, decisions, technologies, and ideas affect sustainable global economic development.


The Sustainable Global Economic Development 101 series consists of six articles:

  1. Sustainable Global Economic Development 101: Sustainable Development: Definition and Principles

  2. Sustainable Global Economic Development 101: Challenges and Issues

  3. Sustainable Global Economic Development 101: The Indicators of Sustainable Economy Development

  4. Sustainable Global Economic Development 101: Sustainable Global Finance Methods

  5. Sustainable Global Economic Development 101: The Influence of Science and Technology

  6. Sustainable Global Economic Development 101: Enhancement for Sustainable Globalism


Sustainable finance is a process of taking into consideration environmental, social, and governance factors while making investment decisions and attempting to raise long-term investments in sustainable projects. It has evolved into an influential movement driven by government regulators, market makers, and investors worldwide (World Bank Group, 2021). The present article covers the importance of implementing global sustainable finance methods, their different aspects, types, main providers, and sources of funding. Furthermore, the issue of collaboration in this area and the ways of attracting investors.


What is Sustainable Finance?

Sustainable finance is a rapidly expanding industry that proceeds to grow. It is a type of finance and investing that is aimed at supporting projects which strengthen sustainability, and mitigation efforts to resist climate change by funding them through different financial instruments. Examples include green bonds, loans, carbon credits, renewable energy equity investing, and so on (Tang, 2021).


There are three important aspects of sustainable finance: social, environmental, and governance. The social aspect focuses on relationships inside the company. Specifically, it describes how a company conducts relations with employers, stakeholders, and society. Also, it is about issues like community impacts, health, and safety, diversity, inequality, human rights, inclusiveness, and investment in human capital (European Commission, n.d.). The Environmental aspect includes such issues as climate change mitigation and using renewable resources (Bakken, 2021). According to ISO (International Organization for Standardization) examples of Government criteria are political lobbying and donations, board diversity and structure, bribery and corruption, tax strategy, and executive pay (ISO, 2022).



Figure 1: An illustration of sustainable finance. (McCauley, n.d.).

Green financing initiatives have a high risk of investment and a lower rate of return compared to fossil fuel projects (Taghizadeh-Hesary, Yoshino, 2020). The issue of funding is essential since they are really expensive, which signifies that the majority of them do not receive funding and public attention. Sustainable finance refers to the category of green finance, it focuses on investing in projects aimed at producing a beneficial impact both on the environment and society. The idea is to reduce the environmental impact which causes businesses to produce goods and services. It could be choosing fuel-saving products and sustainable processes in mass production (The impact investor, 2023).


The main goals of sustainable finance are comprehensive, focusing on life inside of ecological boundaries, sustainable development and fair opportunities for all people, like equal delivery of technologies progressively worldwide. Taking into consideration that the population on earth is continuing to grow, sustainable finance also encapsulates decreasing the reliance on fossil fuels. Companies that invest in eco-friendly business production perceive the benefits of their choice: brand loyalty of the clients, credibility, and increased income (Yu, 2022). Green finance options are also good investments because of the high return on investment rate. For instance, surrounding water conservation projects help to minimize costs for companies in arid regions or make new cost savings where the land was dry before (The impact investor, 2023).


The Types of Green Finance

Among the variety of green finance projects are the most important following types: carbon emission, carbon sequestration, and recycling. Carbon emissions can take place through emission taxes and emission trading. An alternative way of implementing it is changing the technology of the production processes and rules for reducing emissions. Carbon sequestration is the process of preventing the emission of CO2 from the atmosphere. Also, a company can switch to renewable sources of energy and accept emission-reducing technologies. Recycling is a type of green finance that helps to decrease energy use by recycling materials instead of throwing them away. Companies and banks that are socially responsible search for options to implement environmental, social, and government principles while business person meets its sustainable development objectives (The impact investor, 2023).


Privately placed green bonds are investments that permit an owner of a business to lend money from investors with a bond secured against the house, which is in its property. The investor can make up to five percent on their investment, subject to the stability of the underlying asset. Renewable and sustainable equity types of financing are for businesses, householders, and landlords. The most prevalent example of this is solar power. Along with obtaining an eco-credit, it is possible to get tax credits or cash back for the power produced by solar panels. This choice guarantees payment for 20 years. The loan could be used only to install solar panels (The impact investor, 2023). Green mutual funds are explained as funds that pursue investments with beneficial impact in the minimum one of three fields: environment, pollution, and climate change (Chang et al., 2012). Green investments are gaining popularity nowadays as conventional mutual funds started taking an interest in them (The impact investor, 2023).


Figure 2: Renewable energy and its positive effect (Planadviser, 2022).

Solar Bonds are debt instruments, which include, bonds, issued by Borrower to a Buyer through Solar Bonds Funding (Law insider dictionary, 2023). It is not possible to buy them with cash, only with green energy credits. An entrepreneur can earn a return on solar bond investments of two to four percent based on the company's profit. Green Mortgages in the US can be gained exclusively by householders who got their house under a usual mortgage. They have an opportunity to save money by using renewable energy options like installing solar panels funding of which is provided by green finance programs (The impact investor, 2023).


Renewable Energy Credits are commodities and tradable assets, that in support of generating electricity from a clean energy source. This option can be used when the company has the intention to endorse the market of renewable energy sources which is struggling with complications in implementing efficient energy projects that reduce carbon emissions. This is directly a contribution to the sustainable development of society (Watchwire, 2022).


The Green Finance Framework

Sustainable finance is a type of financing and investing that is funding projects which are supporting sustainability, help reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. Green finances count on different forms of financial instruments which contribute to the implementation of sustainable business and production processes. Collaboration in sustainability means creating a green finance framework for companies, using tools, and institutions that cooperate in the field of financing of sustainable production of goods and services globally. The list of institutions and tools includes banks and trust funds; profit-sharing banking, market-based investments, and other climate-related financial products (The impact investor, 2023).



Figure 3: An illustration of green investment (Webb, n.d.)

For instance, Acumen Fund is an investment fund that raises voluntary donations to provide capital investment in startup companies that supply services or products for people with low income. It invests in various areas: healthcare, education, agriculture, energy, and others. The Fund works in different parts of the world Latin America, the Caribbean, North America, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia (Global Impact Investing Network, 2022).


On the other hand, Eversource Capital is the fund manager of The Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF). It is a joint venture connecting Everstone Capital, an Indian private investment company, and Lightsource BP, the developer of solar energy projects. The GGEF support and invest in rapidly growing sustainable enterprises in India in the areas of resource efficiency, e-mobility, renewable energies, and energy services (Entrepreneurial Development Bank, 2022).


The Importance of Sustainable Finance

Recovering the Earth’s landscape is one of the ways to fight climate change. Agriculture and forests constitute approximately 30 percent of the solving the climate change problem, however, receive funding of three percent (Tang, 2021). Aspiring restoration plans have been defined at the international level with the Bonn Challenge, a global goal for settling to restore 350 million hectares by 2030 worldwide. Started by the government of Germany and The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Challenge unifies countries around the world to restore landscapes and reverse the effect of land degradation (The Bonn Challenge, n.d.).


At the same time, The United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) targeted to avoid, stop, and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on the continents and oceans, also, help to mitigate climate change and prevent mass extinction (Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, 2021).


One of the initiatives of this decade is targeted to double recovery restoration fundraising. Even so, mankind needs to collect and spend from USD 600 to 800 billion per year additionally, to stop and reverse halting biodiversity loss by 2030, as reported by Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy (1951) is an international environmental nonprofit organization the aim of it is to preserve the waters and lands upon which all life depends (The Nature Conservancy, n.d.).



Figure 4: An illustration of ecosystem restoration (Bejar, n.d.)

In addition to the above-mentioned long-term costs, there is a necessity of USD 2.5 to 3 billion per year which will be used to accomplish Sustainable Development Goals in the Global South. The joint efforts of the private and public sectors to overcome this financial gap are to be assessed. Financiers and politicians must realize their responsibility and work toward this direction (Tang, 2021).


The Main Providers

Corporations are funding sustainability initiatives through investments and corporate social responsibility instruments in various sectors along with clean energy and infrastructure. About 10,000 companies, in particular, 28 companies with a market capitalization of USD 1.3 trillion, had undertaken new commitments to tackle climate change (Ellsmoor, 2020). More than half of US companies have augmented their participation in renewable energy projects (Ellsmoor, 2020). If the company applies corporate social responsibility (CSR) and green investments, its financial performance indicators will increase (Yannan et al., 2022).


Banks supply a great part of financial resources that can be used for making green investments. For example, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for transition economies, the European Investment Bank, and the United Kingdom’s Green Investment Bank contributed together EUR 100 billion in equity investment for sustainable transport, renewable energy, and energy efficiency projects in 2010-2012 (Cochran et al, 2014).


International funding institutions can boost eco-investments by inventing and examining new ways of financing, guiding funds on the way to sustainable development with different mechanisms, such as green bonds, and inducing global financial organizations, investment, and development banks to support sustainability more (Tang, 2021).


Figure 5: Hand-drawn CSR concept. (Freepik., n.d.)

International organizations, for instance, The United Nations, The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and The Group of Twenty (G20) prepare the agenda on sustainable development issues, provide limited financial support and arrange sources of funding. Climate funds are multinational funds created for solving problems of climate change adaptation and mitigation, receiving financial support from different particular countries. National governments regulate the size of funding aimed at the practical implementation of green investment along with institutional assistance of them (Tang, 2021).


Also, the governments afford aid for domestic investment mechanisms and national environmental and climate foundations. Central banks and administrative units can lead the finance sector on the way to increasing the share of green investments in the economy as well. Market makers, such as wealth funds, pension funds, insurance companies, and other private sector enterprises are also can provide funding to sustainable development projects. There is a list of stock exchanges that specialize in green investment options. For instance, The Luxembourg Green Exchange (LGX), works as a market for sustainable and green securities (Tang, 2021).


Funding Instruments and Advantages

In sustainable finance, there are two principal instruments: equity and debt. Equity is mostly used in the early stages of projects, where investors gain an ownership interest (shares) proportional to the amount of money invested. In the more advanced stages, debt as a new instrument is used. It is an overriding investment method according to which investors lend their money in return for regular interest payments. Debt funding could be implemented in the form of bonds or loans. A loan is a money transfer from a certain bank to an enterprise or an individual, while on the contrary, a bond is a transfer from the market to a company that issued the bonds. The price of which is usually measured in fairly large amounts. Generally, USD 100 million and above. Bonds can be sold to citizens (Tang, 2021).


Sustainable finance now becomes a type of competitive advantage, which lead the way to strengthen brand value, customer loyalty, increased profit, and a more powerful business model. Recent research states that companies aimed to have an ethical reputation do get a higher rate of return than a portfolio of comparable stocks (Yu et al., 2022). According to the study, conducted by McKinsey & Company (Koller, Nuttal, 2020) implementing sustainability in the production process increases operating profit by up to 60 percent. Also, the company’s environmental propositions help it develop new and expand into existing sales markets (Koller, Nuttal, 2020). The research of Edmans et al. (2022) confirms the fact: companies that care about sustainability attract customers faster and easier, take new business opportunities, and avoid regulatory interventions (Edmans et al., 2022).


All these above-mentioned advantages of sustainable finance, first of all, reward the investors. And then the enterprises involved in sustainability prosper, the entire world community also benefits. The popularity of green financing is increasing rapidly today. When deciding on large investments, the benefits of sustainable finances should be taken into consideration . Firstly, green financial resources are more reliable than others at present. And, secondly, these types of investments take care of the planet, as opposed to the standard financial instruments.


Conclusion

Accepting sustainable finance signifies making decisions that concern not only profit, but also other: social, governance, and environmental factors. Business people have various choices for green financing: Green Mutual Funds, Solar Bonds, Green Stocks, Green Mortgages, Renewable Energy Credits, and others. The main providers of these financial products are banks (as intermediaries), corporations, and international funding institutions, climate funds, wealth funds, insurance companies, Green Stock Exchanges like Luxembourg Green Exchange and also, international organizations such as The United Nations, The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and The Group of Twenty (G20). Supporting sustainable finance implementation will assure climate change mitigation, and build a sustainable society worldwide (World Bank Group, 2021).


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Yuliia Sivitska

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