Emerging markets have become a major force in driving development and fighting climate change as 34 countries have initiated banking reforms to expand sustainable lending, according to the first comprehensive Global Progress Report of the Sustainable Banking Network, an IFC-supported organization of banking regulators and associations.
Those 34 countries account for $42.6 trillion in bank assets—more than 85 percent of total bank assets in emerging markets. Some are wealthier than others, but all of them have made progress in advancing sustainable finance. Eight countries—Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nigeria, and Vietnam—have reached an advanced stage, having implemented large-scale reforms and put in place systems for results measurement. These reforms require banks to assess and report on environmental and social risks in their lending operations and put market incentives in place for banks to lend to green projects.
“This progress is an important step toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” said Ethiopis Tafara, IFC’s Vice President for Legal, Compliance Risk and Sustainability. “It shows all countries can adopt sustainable finance reforms, regardless of their income level. The Sustainable Banking Network has demonstrated in a short time how much can be achieved when regulators, policymakers, trade associations and development institutions collaborate to advance sustainable finance.”
The report provides practical indicators and tools for countries to apply to their own domestic markets, regardless of their size or stage of development. This is important because it facilitates learning by all members and accelerates the pace of change. It is based on an innovative results-measurement approach that has been agreed by all 34 member countries—a remarkable achievement that is breaking new ground for measuring progress at the global level.
“The intention of the report is to provide practical information to SBN member countries to help them develop public policy. It is a useful guide not only for regulators and the governments, but also for banks, steering them towards what they could and should do from the bottom up,” said Edi Setijawan, Sustainable Finance Director, Indonesia Financial Authority (OJK), and a co-Chair of SBN Measurement Working Group that led the development of the unique methodology behind the report.
“For the first time, the report provides a concrete picture of what each country has been doing to develop sustainable finance,” said Ye Yanfei, Deputy Director-General, China Banking Regulatory Commission and co-Chair of SBN Measurement Working Group. “The report also identifies areas of further focus for the member countries to continue to improve.”
Emerging-market countries increasingly are learning from one another as they adopt sustainable-finance policies, according to the report. Bangladesh, for example, was one of the first network members to adopt such policies. Its progress prompted Nepal to undertake regional study tours and peer-learning exercises in Bangladesh to formulate its own policies.