SEC: Local firms raise $5B from green bond issuances

The Philippines has raised some $5.4 billion, both onshore and offshore, from green bond issuances since the adoption of the Asean Green, Social and Sustainability Bond Standards, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said.

SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis B. Amatong said the country has seen rapid growth in green bond issuances, mainly from the private sector. These will be used for renewable energy projects, infrastructure, and real estate.

Amatong said the Philippines expects more green bond issuances as the country adopts principles that will allow it to secure more of the private capital that looks for financial and social returns.

In October, the government launched the Philippine Sustainable Finance Roadmap and Guiding Principles developed by the Green Force with the support of the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

“The objectives incorporated in the Philippine Sustainable Finance Roadmap optimize the public sector’s strengths—policy development and concessional, albeit limited, funds—to ‘crowd in’ the substantial amounts of private capital looking for financial and social returns, in order to transition the Philippine economy to become more sustainable, inclusive and resilient,” Amatong said.

In addition to the Roadmap for Asean Sustainable Capital Markets—a guidance for the economic bloc—the group has released Version 1 of the Asean Taxonomy for Sustainable Finance or Asean Taxonomy.

“This document will provide a frame for discussions among official sector and private sector stakeholders to work together on the development of the Asean Sustainable Finance Taxonomy, which will serve as a reference point to guide capital and funding towards activities that can help promote the systemic transformation and transition needed for the region,” Amatong said.

The SEC has also instituted sustainability reporting for publicly-listed companies and has required these to submit a separate report on these on top of the usual annual financial documents that it give to the regulator.

Amating said compliance rates of listed firms to submit this document “have been very high” at 93.3 percent for the 2020 sustainability reports and 90.77 percent for 2019 reporting season despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic.

The SEC has asked these firms to submit the document on a comply-or-explain basis for the first three years of its implementation. Firms will have to submit to the agency the report, or if not, tell them the reason for not submitting or complying with the requirement.

He said, however, that there is still a long way ahead before reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and achieving the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius by drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

There is an “urgent” need to begin measuring the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by businesses, he said.

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