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Sustainable Finance Awards 2024 | Global Finance Magazine

The sustainable finance sector was in a holding pattern through much of 2023—but a breakout could be nigh

Issuance of “impact” bonds, sometimes referred to as GSS+ bonds—green, social, sustainability and sustainability-linked instruments—totaled $939 billion in 2023, a slight 3% improvement over 2022, according to Bloomberg data. The sector has yet to match the record heights of 2021.

But there are reasons to believe 2024 may be different. For one, January saw an “extraordinary surge” in green bond issuance, according to the ESG Institute.

Potentially more significant is the growing likelihood that interest rates in Europe and the US will fall, creating a tailwind of sorts for the green bond market. Moreover, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that US President Joe Biden signed into law in August 2022 included major subsidies and incentives for renewable energy investments.

“The return on the IRA will only be visible this year,” predicts Gregor Vulturius, SEB Group’s lead scientist and adviser, Climate & Sustainable Finance. SEB is projecting that green bond issuance will increase 20% globally in 2024, with North America and corporate issuers driving the growth.

Green Bonds Predominate

Green bonds have dominated the impact bond category from the beginning, and 2024 is unlikely to be different. Credit Agricole analysts expect green bonds to account for almost two-thirds (64%) of GSS+ issuance this year. Other label types will be much further behind; sustainability bonds, which have attributes of both green and social bonds, are projected to make up 16% percent of the total, and social bonds 12%.

Petra Mellor, head of Bank Debt at Nordea Bank

Why does sustainable finance remain so deeply green?

“There’s a sense of purpose about global climate change” that seems to transcend other impact bonds, says Vulturius. “Social bonds have always played second fiddle to green bonds.” Social bonds seized public attention during the Covid-19 pandemic, when so many people required unemployment support and social interventions, but since then interest has waned, he notes.

As for sustainability-linked bonds (SLBs), which seemed poised for a breakout in early 2022, they could now be at a crossroads. SLBs suffered “another setback” last year, “with almost $20 billion less in new issuance compared to 2022,” according to SEB Group. But “the market has now mostly learned its lesson about the importance of integrity, and how to mitigate greenwashing risk.”

That being the case, “SLBs should record a modest progression” this year, predicts Credit Agricole, while Scandinavia’s Nordea Bank, a leader in SLBs, also expects these “transition finance” instruments to gain momentum.

“It’s important to recognize that we are heading into the fifth year of SLBs versus the 15th for green bonds,” notes Petra Mellor, head of Bank Debt at Nordea Bank. “True, we have some structural aspects still to be fine-tuned for SLBs, but the market relevance is more important than ever.”

Among other trends to watch for in 2024, Vulturius cites decarbonization, blended products, and a strong pickup in North American green bond activity, especially as the IRA’s impact begins to kick in. The US presidential election in November could derail progress, but that is more a topic for 2025, he argues.

And the longer term?

It can be difficult to factor big-issue political discussions—like the recent COP28 meeting—into short-term decision-making, Mellor observes, “but one key takeaway [from COP28] was the increased recognition of transition finance” as an important financial category. That isn’t going away, she says.

Which is another reason to expect that institutions focusing on sustainable finance in its various forms will be have plenty to keep them busy in 2024. With that in mind, Global Finance here presents its fourth annual Sustainable Finance Awards, the winners spanning seven regions and 53 countries, territories and districts, as well as global honorees in 13 categories.      —Andrew Singer

Methodology: Behind the Rankings

Global and regional awards require submissions detailing hard measures of ESG activity, such as year-over-year growth in sustainable finance transactions or sustainable financial instruments as a percent of total portfolio, as well as softer metrics that include goal alignment with leading ESG norms or innovative product development. Entries were not required for country awards, which were judged by the editorial team’s independent research. Evaluation criteria for both cases include governance policies and goals, achievements in environmental and social sustainability financing, industry leadership and third-party assessments. This awards program covers the activities from January 2023 to December 2023. There was no fee to enter.

Sustainable Finance Award Winners 2024

Best Bank for Sustainable Finance Societe Generale
Best Bank for Green Bonds CIBC
Best Bank for Social Bonds DBS
Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds CIBC
Best Bank for Sustaining Communities CaixaBank
Best Bank for Sustainability Transparency OTP Bank
Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance ING
Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance Societe Generale
Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets Scotiabank
Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability Linked Loans Bradesco BBI
Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability Linked Bonds Nordea
Best Bank for ESG-Related Loans Industrial Bank of Korea
Best Multilateral Institution for Sustainable Finance IFC

Societe Generale

Best Bank for Sustainable Finance

Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance

Societe Generale (SocGen) bolstered its reputation for sustainable finance innovation in November by serving as sole manager for the first digital green bond issued on a public blockchain and by SocGen. The €10 million senior preferred unsecured bond was tokenized and directly registered by SG-Forge on the Ethereum public blockchain. Blockchain, says SocGen, can potentially increase the traceability and transparency of ESG-related bonds for both issuers and investors.

SocGen also stands out for its reach and versatility. Last year, it was active in ESG projects on all six inhabited continents, including many parts of Africa, and it remains one of the few commercial banks that has ever issued green, social and sustainable bonds, according to Natixis.

 In the project finance sphere, the bank was active on many fronts in 2023, including in October as sole debt financial adviser and mandated lead arranger on Automotive Energy Supply Corporation’s €873 million battery storage factory in France’s Battery Valley. Elsewhere, it helped finance offshore wind projects in Poland and South Korea; onshore renewables in Japan, Australia, Egypt, and Vietnam; and critical materials projects in Mongolia and Africa.           —Andrew Singer

Scotiabank

Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets

Since Scotiabank announced a goal of mobilizing C$350 billion by 2030 to reduce the impact of climate change, it has chalked up a series of groundbreaking transactions in Latin America’s emerging markets. Notably, the bank supported Inversiones CMPC as it brought the first green sustainability-linked bond issue in the Americas to market in June. The C$500 million in bond proceeds are allocated to designated green projects, and the coupon increases if emission targets are not met.

Also in June, Scotiabank assisted Chile on a sequence of US dollar- and euro-denominated debt issues that are helping the country meet its environmental and social objectives. The deal makes Chile the first sovereign to issue a sustainability-linked bond with a social KPI related to gender diversity.

The bank also supported Mexico’s Trust Fund for Rural Development (FIRA) in April when it placed Latin America’s first green resilience bond on the Mexican Stock Exchange. The US$154.89 million offering is intended to improve the resilience of producers and value chains in the agriculture sector. Proceeds are financing projects to reduce the impact of extreme climate events and strengthen systems against climate stress.          —Andrea Murad

Joyce Tee, MD & head of Institutional Banking Group, DBS

DBS

Best Bank for Social Bonds

The DBS team helps clients access Asian debt capital markets and raises bond financing for environmental, social and governance-related efforts on the continent. In February 2023, DBS Securities China issued a three-year, AAA-rated onshore panda bond for China Power International; funds were to be used for the development of green power projects. In September, DBS acted as joint lead manager and joint bookrunner on a $650 million, five-year social bond for Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation, the proceeds earmarked to help the company alleviate the financial burden on small to midsize local businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2023, the bank served as joint lead underwriter for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s ¥1.5 billion, five-year Chinese bond issue aimed at funding sustainable economic development, wealth creation, and improved infrastructure connectivity in Asia.           —Laura Spinale

Industrial Bank of Korea

Industrial Bank of Korea is at the forefront of South Korean’s sustainability field, having launched the nation’s first ESG-related loans in 2022. Offerings have included a KR₩200 billion fund for the RE100, a global initiative encouraging businesses to convert to100% renewable energy. The fund is to provide loans to energy providers that, in turn, will supply renewable energy to companies pursuing RE100-compliant strategies. In partnership with DS Asset Management, Industrial Bank of Korea also created an ESG fund totaling KR₩100 billion to support SMEs and other companies engaged in renewable energy production, eco-friendly power generation, and smart farm development. These and other initiatives boosted the bank’s sustainability financing engagement 15% from 2022 to 2023, to KR₩718.3 billion.           —LS

CIBC

Best Bank for Green Bonds

Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds

Canada’s CIBC acted as joint bookrunner on several corporate green and sustainable bond issues last year, including Ontario’s $1.5 billion green bond offering in February, earmarked to support clean transportation and energy efficiency. In November, CIBC was selected by the Canadian government as sole structuring adviser for updates to its Green Bond Framework.

The bank was also bookrunner for Canada’s largest corporate sustainable bond to date in 2023: Hydro-One’s inaugural $1.05 billion issue. Hydro-One will use the proceeds to finance both green and social projects, in keeping with the hybrid nature of sustainable bonds.            —AS

Eugenio Solla, chief sustainability officer, CaixaBank

CaixaBank

Best Bank for Sustaining Communities

Spain’s CaixaBank takes a multipronged approach to supporting local communities. First, it is Europe’s largest bank provider of microcredits and other loans with a social impact; in the first nine months of 2023, it extended €991 billion of microcredits, an increase of 24% year-over-year.

Second, Caixa sustains communities as an issuer of social bonds such as its €1 billion issue last May funding loans to families, self-employed workers and SMEs in Spain. The offering that provides vulnerable people with access to education and healthcare was significantly oversubscribed.

Finally, the bank provides conceptional support, helping to expand the definition of sustainable finance to include deals with individuals and companies, and not just contributions to SDGs, as per its 2023 Guide of Identification of Sustainable Financing.      —AS

OTP Bank

Best Bank for Sustainable Transparency

OTP’s extensive operations in 12 countries across CEE – Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, and, of course, its home market Hungary— and Uzbekistan and Moldova — have given it access to the growing opportunities for sustainable finance. As well as taking up these opportunities, the OTP Group has led the way in sustainability transparency, standardizing business practices, following a tough anti-corruption policy and prioritizing good corporate governance.

In 2022 the Green Loan Framework was rolled out across the OTP Group to ensure consistency and transparency in the way subsidiary banks manage ESG loans and projects.

Last year saw a further improvement in OTP’s overall ESG Risk Score, and today risk is negligible in business ethics and product governance and low in the areas of data privacy and security, ESG Integration, financials and human capital.   —Justin Keay

ING

Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance

Financing for the €4.1 billion Baltic Power project, Poland’s first offshore wind farm, came in last September with the Netherlands’ ING acting as sole sustainability coordinator. The project is expected to supply clean electricity to more than 1.5 million Polish households.

ING’s infrastructure focus does not end in Europe, however. Last year, it closed a KR₩440 billion green loan with Digital Edge to support the first phase of the company’s 100-megawatt data center project in Seoul, South Korea. The Singapore-based firm aims to build sustainable, high-speed digital infrastructure throughout Asia. —AS

Nordea

Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability Linked Bonds

Sustainability-linked bonds encountered headwinds in 2023 as questions were raised about both their structure and the credibility of their performance targets, but Finland’s Nordea, an SLB pioneer, insists that they will remain “a key tool for the market.”

In August, Nordea issued a €1 billion sustainability-linked loan bond (SLLB) that employs use-of-proceeds bonds to fund a portfolio of sustainability-linked loans. SLLBs are a potential game changer in the view of some because their structure provides an additional layer of accountability and scrutiny for investors.           —AS

International Finance Corporation

Best Multilateral Institution for Sustainable Finance

At COP28, the World Bank Group set an ambitious goal to devote 45% of its annual financing to climate by 2025, having committed and mobilized a record $14.4 billion in climate finance in 2023.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is scaling up financing to clients through its capital and mobilizing external resources with significant already agreed-upon and implemented measures, and more proposed, to leverage existing resources further while maintaining financial sustainability.

New initiatives include blue-themed bonds to support sustainable ocean economies, a $1.5 billion three-year social bond to help low-income communities in emerging markets and a $3.5 billion credit insurance policy with 13 global insurance companies to support economic activity and foster development in emerging markets.     —GW

Best Bank for Sustainable Finance Societe Generale
Best Bank for Sustaining Communities Societe Generale Madagasikara
Best Bank for Sustainability Transparency Absa
Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance Standard Bank
Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance Standard Bank
Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets CIB
Best Bank for Green Bonds Nedbank
Best Bank for Social Bonds IFC
Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds Absa
Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability Linked Bonds Rand Merchant Bank
Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability Linked Loans Standard Bank
Best Bank for ESG-Related Loans Standard Bank

Africa

The green agenda has been a priority for the African continent for some time, particularly for the private sector. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives can drive growth in GDP, per capita income and jobs, while fostering collaboration between countries, businesses and communities—and banks are an integral part of this process. Yet, a significant funding gap hinders the continent from achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While there’s rapid growth in ESG debt instruments, including green, social, sustainability and sustainability-linked bonds, according to Sustainable Fitch, the overall scale of sustainable finance in Africa is still small.

Even so, there are numerous success stories of green ventures in Africa, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). For example, the transition to sustainable agriculture contributes about 17% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP and increases productivity while minimizing the impact on ecosystems and helping to reduce food insecurity. The blue economy and ecotourism can generate $576 billion and 127 million jobs over the next 40 years. Renewable energy solutions can contribute 6.4% to GDP over the next 30 years, as Africa has abundant solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass and other natural resources that can be used for innovative solutions.

To meet these needs, the banking sector has continued to provide financial and nonfinancial support, funding projects across the continent. They have also continued to develop innovative products and to revitalize debt capital markets in countries across Africa.

Societe Generale

Best Bank for Sustainable Finance

Societe Generale (SocGen) continues to lead in Africa’s sustainable finance. The bank’s successful “Grow with Africa” campaign has continued to contribute to Africa’s sustainable development.

The bank’s infrastructure finance teams support projects to develop wind farms, solar farms and sustainable water and wastewater management projects, and to upgrade hospitals and modernize transport systems. SocGen supports the development of African small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) with expertise, advice and training, as well as an awareness of environmental and social issues.

SocGen strengthened its support in the agriculture sector by facilitating value chains, contributing to a virtuous ecosystem of nonfinancial support to help sector players scale, and by focusing on the blue economy and biodiversity with offerings related to monetizing carbon credits for the maritime sector.

The bank remains dedicated to financial inclusion initiatives and provides access to financial services to populations with limited banking services.

Societe Generale Madagasikara

Best Bank for Sustaining Communities

Societe Generale Madagasikara has contributed positively to Madagascar’s sustainable development and supported the country’s ecological transition by working with its customers and communities to follow a more sustainable investment strategy. The bank has changed how it conducts business in several ways, including the “one card equals one tree planted” product launch with the CSR consulting service Bondy, which is focused on reforestation and restoration of biodiversity that ultimately creates jobs. The bank remains committed to education and professional integration, providing funds to help build a better future for youths and structuring projects to build schools and transition some schools to solar energy. Also, the bank financed the rehabilitation of damaged public schools and provided computers.

Absa

Best Bank for Sustainability Transparency

Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds

The Pan-African financial services provider Absa embraces its ethos as an active force for good in its strategy and remains committed to driving tangible, meaningful change in its communities. The bank has worked on several sustainable bond issuances this past year.

Most notably, Absa Group served as joint lead transaction adviser on NMB Bank’s first sustainability-bond issuance, which was a first for Tanzania and East Africa and fostered sustainable finance across borders. The issuance was NMB’s inaugural listing on Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange. The NMB Jamii Bond’s proceeds are to be used for green initiatives that will enrich the regional environment and finance impactful social projects empowering and uplifting Tanzanian communities socially and economically.

Standard Bank

Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance

Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance

Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Loans

Standard Bank is committed to a strategy for driving sustainable and inclusive growth in Africa based on pillars of social, economic and environmental impact. The bank aims to drive positive impact in line with SDGs to ensure effective ESG-risk management and good practices.

The bank issued 45 billion South African rands (about $2.3 billion) in sustainable financing, including green loans that funded renewable energy projects and green buildings; social loans that delivered affordable housing, basic infrastructure, and essential services in health and education sectors across the continent; and the bank’s first transition finance loan in the thermal coal sector. The bank also participated in sustainability-linked funding across multiple industries that embedded material sustainability key performance indicator (KPI) themes addressing carbon emission reductions and renewable energy consumption, water and waste management, diversity and inclusion and micro- and small-business funding and support.

Standard Bank also mobilized 15.5 billion rands in green project finance and 1.2 billion in social project finance funding renewable energy, carbon projects, basic infrastructure and affordable housing in numerous African countries. These projects include assisting African power producer Red Rocket in developing, designing, constructing and operating wind farms with a combined installed capacity of 280 megawatts (MW) in the Western Cape and 84 MW in the Eastern Cape.

CIB

Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets

Based in Egypt, CIB (Commercial International Bank) drives change within African emerging markets through pioneering initiatives. The bank recently launched “Brain Trust,” an innovative model that addresses the gap in finance for adaptation projects and mobilizes private investments for pipeline projects in Africa’s agriculture, food and water systems.

CIB also expanded its sustainable finance offerings in 12 corporate and SME financing areas. These include energy efficiency, renewable energy, green building, waste and water management, water desalination, energy management systems, pollution prevention and control, and sustainable agriculture and transport. CIB’s expanded climate finance offerings enable the transition toward a low-carbon economy by addressing the environmental challenges carbon-intensive industries face.

Nedbank

Best Bank for Green Bonds

Based in South Africa, Nedbank is a pioneer in green finance, being the first bank in the country to embrace many climate-related initiatives. The bank launched its Green Private Power Tier 2 Bond, with a notional value of 2.1 billion rands, in 2023. This on-balance-sheet transaction was used to finance a portfolio of private renewable power-generation projects in South Africa, including photovoltaic solar and wind projects. These projects help advance South Africa’s renewable energy capacity and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. Nedbank also structured, arranged and invested in a 550 million-rand green bond facility for Burstone Group to finance and refinance a portfolio of green buildings.

IFC

Best Bank for Social Bonds

IFC(International Finance Corporation) has a vision to create a world free of poverty on a livable planet. As such, it has been a leader in social bonds and sustainable finance in Africa. IFC provided an anchor investment in the West African Economic and Monetary Union’s first social bond in the energy sector, a government-led program facilitating access to electricity for underserved populations in electrified localities. Bond proceeds help finance the connection of up to 800,000 low-income households to the national grid over the next four years. Its social bond program funds projects supporting Burkina Faso’s agricultural cooperatives and women-owned businesses from Mauritania to Zambia.

Rand Merchant Bank

Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Bonds

The strategy of Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) embraces the sound management of natural resources, a cornerstone of sustainable social and economic development.

The bank participated in financing the Development Bank of Rwanda’s inaugural sustainability-linked bond (SLB). This SLB was the first globally issued by a national development bank and the first issued in East Africa. The issuance was structured to recognize the systemic change required for a development bank to meet its sustainability performance targets (SPTs) and to revitalize Rwanda’s debt capital markets.

RMB also established a sustainability-linked financing framework (SLFF) with chemical manufacturer AECI, designed to facilitate SLB and sustainability-linked loan (SLL) issuances. When opportunities arise, the SLFF more broadly overlays KPIs and SPTs on other financial instruments and services. AECI successfully used this framework to debut its 1 billion rand SLB with KPIs focused on effluent discharge, carbon emissions, and gender diversity.  —Andrea Murad

Best Bank for Sustainable Finance DBS
Best Bank for Sustaining Communities BPI
Best Bank for Sustainability Transparency DBS
Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance Bank of China
Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance CTBC Taiwan
Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets DBS
Best Bank for Green Bonds Bangkok Bank
Best Bank for Social Bonds Industrial Bank of Korea
Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds Bank of China
Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability Linked Bonds Bank of China
Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability Linked Loans ING
Best Bank for ESG-Related Loans Industrial Bank of Korea

There is no denying that Asia has pollution problems. According to UNEP, roughly 6.5 million people die each year from exposure to poor air quality, and 70% of them live in the Asia-Pacific region. Water pollution and industrial waste also plague the region. However, thanks in no small part to the financing efforts of the following banks, there is hope. Funding for sustainable development projects, clean public transportation, offshore wind farms and other renewable energy efforts will help improve the local environment. And social financing geared toward supporting small farmers, microbusinesses and women-owned businesses will forge a brighter financial future for those living in a cleaner world.

DBS

Best Bank for Sustainable Finance

Best Bank for Sustainability Transparency

Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets

With operations in Singapore, China, India, Indonesia and Taiwan—and strong efforts in transparency, support for emerging markets, ESG-related loans and bonds, and transition/sustainability-linked loans in those markets—DBS takes Asia’s regional award for the Best Bank for Sustainable Finance. Consider its operations in China as one example of its strength on the continent. By the end of 2023’s third quarter, the green loan balance in that country had increased 37% from the balance held in January of that year.

DBS touts itself as the bookrunner of choice for bond issues in Asia and a pioneer bank for ESG capital instruments. Notable ESG activities include working with the People’s Bank of China. This relationship enables DBS China to offer low-cost loans to fund sustainable development projects—including clean energy projects and projects geared toward reducing carbon emissions. Notable financing includes a 572.2 million Chinese yuan (about $79.5 million) green loan to Weifang Bohai Bay Photovoltaic Technology and Weifang Tianen Binhai New Energy to support a photovoltaic power plant project. The loan was issued in November.

Reporting on sustainability since 2015, DBS published its first stand-alone sustainability report in 2018. These reports are produced in accordance with Global Reporting Initiative standards. In 2021, the bank became the first bank in Singapore—and among the first 100 banks globally—to become a signatory to the Net-Zero Banking Alliance. In 2022, it outlined its progress toward the alliance’s goals in a report called Our Path to Net Zero: Supporting Asia’s Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy. That report describes in great detail how the bank selected decarbonization activities, and the science behind those decisions. Goals are set for 2050, with interim goals listed for 2030. The bank has also produced green credit guidelines, a sustainable- and transition-finance framework, responsible business-practice pillars, and community impact analyses—all available for public perusal. For all these activities, DBS earned our award as the Best Bank for Sustainability Transparency in Asia-Pacific.

Additionally, the bank has won our award as Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets in Asia-Pacific, with strong work in China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, and Taiwan. As a leader in Asian emerging and local currency bond markets, it has funded various sustainability-related projects. DBS China completed the drawdown of a $297 million term loan for China Three Gorges’ acquisition of Alcazar Energy Partners’ solar and wind projects located in Jordan and Egypt, with a total capacity of 411 MW. DBS also partners with clients to facilitate Asia’s transition to clean energy as part of its effort to reduce and eventually eliminate coal-fired power. It has developed a climate analytics tool for net-zero banking, examining, at a portfolio level, the bank’s goals for existing and new customers in the power, oil, gas, real estate, steel and aviation sectors. It works with partners to decarbonize Asian supply chains for its clients, and it provides loans to accelerate decarbonization.

BPI

Best Bank for Sustaining Communities

By providing sustainable financial solutions tailor-made for microbusinesses, farmers, fishermen and other traditionally unbanked citizens, BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) is doing much to help develop sustaining communities in that nation. One example of these solutions is the JFC Agri Loan Financing Program. This financing mechanism is specifically designed for small-scale farmers—particularly farmers who act as suppliers to BPI corporate client Jollibee Foods Corporation. This financing facility gives small farmers (working on average plot sizes of less than 1.5 acres) access to affordable financing in a region known for very high interest rates on microloans. Microfinance solutions are only one arm of BPI’s ESG work. 53% of its total loan portfolio supports the UN SDGs.

Bank of China

Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance

Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds

Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Bonds

The Bank of China (BOC) won as Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance in Asia-Pacific for its work on the nation’s first marine-ecology-oriented development project, the Dongtou Bays • Sea Garden project. The goal of this four-year project is to create needed environmental infrastructure. It also seeks to solve ecological maladies, such as the accumulation of sea garbage in the bay. The BOC funded the project via underwriting bonds for it, along with other infrastructure finance in Asia linked to carbon-emissions reduction.

The bank’s second win, as Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds in Asia, is due to its funding of a broad range of sustainable project categories across the globe. Projects funded promote renewable energy and green buildings and strive to prevent pollution.

These bonds are part of the $1.9 billion in green and sustainable bonds the BOC has floated in overseas markets and 30 billion yuan in sustainable and green bonds in China. The bank has also underwritten 286.2 billion yuan in domestic green bonds and sustainable bonds and $24.8 billion in green and sustainable bonds overseas.

Meanwhile, the bank also prides itself on an abundant and diversified portfolio of green products and services marketed under the BOC Green+ global brand. Among the dozens of loans, trade finance products, services, and deposit products offered are bonds linked to transition and sustainability. These cover efforts in clean transportation, renewable energy, green buildings, pollution prevention and control, and sustainable wastewater management. Recent offerings fund efforts to reduce carbon emissions by constructing new wind power facilities. Additional projects funded seek to improve the management of marine environments, earning BOC the Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Bonds in Asia-Pacific award.

CTBC Taiwan

Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance

CTBC acted as the mandated lead arranger and bookrunner for the Hai Long offshore wind project, the largest such project—in terms of capacity and cost—in Taiwan. It will generate an estimated 1,022 MW of clean power. CTBC has also supported other similar projects, providing financing for 605 MW and 300 Mw offshore wind developments. The bank further acted as a structuring bank for a 17 MW waste-to-energy incinerator built by Cleanaway Energy. This incinerator is dedicated to processing solid recovered fuel. Once processed, this high yield recovered fuel will be used for power generation rather than being disposed of in a landfill. For these and other activities, CTBC has been named Asia-Pacific’s Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance.

Bangkok Bank

Best Bank for Green Bonds

In 2023, the Thai ESG-bond market had an estimated value of 44.9 billion Thai baht (about $1.25 billion). Nearly 28.4 billion of that—63% of the total Thai ESG-bond market—was underwritten by Bangkok Bank. Among projects financed by these bonds was the Xayaburi Power Company’s 3.5 billion baht green bond to design, develop, construct and operate a hydroelectric power plant. Bangkok Bank also underwrote a 3.9 billion baht bond for Energy Absolute Public Company to modernize its buses—supplanting the current internal-combustion buses used for public transport in Bangkok with clean-running e-buses. Additional projects funded include biomass facilities, hydropower projects, solar power facilities and offshore wind power projects.

Industrial Bank of Korea

Best Bank for Social Bonds

The Industrial Bank of Korea says it was responsible for 81% of the ESG bonds issued in South Korea in 2023, totaling 6.9 trillion South Korean won (about $5.2 billion). The bank continues to promote the acquisition, trading and issuance of ESG and social bonds. Many of its bonds, indirectly guaranteed by the South Korean government, support small and midsize industries. It has been involved in successful social bonds with organizations such as the Korea Credit Guarantee Fund, the Small and Medium Business Corporation, and the Korea Housing Finance Corporation. In late 2023, the bank issued a $600 million five-year gender-equality- themed social bond. Proceeds will be used to finance or refinance new or existing loans to SMEs and projects supporting gender equality. In further ESG efforts, the bank’s insurance arm invests in green bonds and other eco-friendly projects to promote the expansion of ESG finance and to support carbon neutrality.

The bank also launched that nation’s first ESG-related loans. It established a 200 billion won fund to finance renewable energy providers that, in turn, supply renewable energy to companies seeking to be powered entirely by renewable energy. This has earned it our Best Bank for ESG-Related Loans in Asia-Pacific award. (For more information on this and other initiatives, see the Industrial Bank of Korea’s entry in our Global Winners section.)

ING

Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Loans

ING takes the regional award for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Loans for several efforts. These include its position as sole sustainability coordinator on Southeast Asia’s first private equity backed, leveraged SLL. This $790 million deal supports the activities of the Goodpack company. Based in Singapore, Goodpack is the world’s largest provider of reusable pallet-sized metal containers for road, rail and sea shipments. The funds will support Goodpack’s efforts to implement circular supply chains, or supply chains that reuse materials and goods as long as possible. A second, $403.8 million loan issued by ING supports a company called EdgeConneX in its efforts to build more environmentally sensitive data centers. —Laura Spinale

Best Bank for Sustainable Finance Bank Pekao
Best Bank for Sustaining Communities IsBank
Best Bank for Sustainability Transparency OTP Bank
Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance Akbank
Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance OTP Bank
Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets OTP Bank
Best Bank for Green Bonds Bank Pekao
Best Bank for Social Bonds Akbank
Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds Raiffeisen Bank International
Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability Linked Bonds Bank Pekao
Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability Linked Loans Akbank
Best Bank for ESG-Related Loans OTP Bank
Best Multilateral Institution for Sustainable Finance Development and Investment Bank of Turkey

If 2023 was notable for anything, it was the growing awareness of the urgent need to tackle global climate change. This was compounded by the year becoming the hottest ever recorded, with weather events once considered freaky now increasingly commonplace in many countries, including those across Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The region’s banks have put themselves at the forefront of this new awareness, operating more sustainably but also looking to take advantage of what will be major commercial opportunities going forward.

Last year, our Sustainable Finance Awards reported that CEE’s banks have moved away from greenwashing. This trend has become more pronounced, with institutions demonstrating awareness of the UN’s 17 SDGs and the Paris Agreement climate goals, and how the banks can meaningfully play their part in creating a greener future. Increasingly, banks are not just identifying opportunities but are working with clients to help them shift toward greater sustainability, which will be vital in driving the whole process forward over the long term.

Bank Pekao

Best Bank for Sustainable Finance

Best Bank for Green Bonds

Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Bonds

Established 95 years ago and Poland’s second-largest bank, with around $9 billion of Tier 1 capital, Bank Pekao has long been committed to sustainable finance, which forms the cornerstone of its 2021-2024 business strategy: Responsible Bank, Modern Banking. It is dedicated to reducing the financing of energy-intensive projects, has its ESG strategy closely monitored by an ESG council, and has been making steady progress toward its goal—outlined in its business strategy—of financing 30 billion Polish zloty (about $7.6 billion) of sustainable projects by the end of 2024. (As of the third quarter of 2023 it had reached 22 billion zloty.) Green financing now accounts for 6.6% of all projects, actually above the aim of 4%, while some 30 different initiatives are underway to meet the above sustainable finance goal.

Bank Pekao has pursued a dynamic green bond and SLB issuance program. Through 2023, it was involved in leading, coordinating, financing and/or co-financing at least eight major projects, including a 3.9 billion zloty 1.2-gigawatt offshore wind farm, a 3.5 billion zloty green bond issue for a leading CEE media company, a 0.5 billion zloty contribution toward a new public-private financed tram line in Krakow. The bank also co-organized a 180 million zloty green bond issue for an international property group.

Isbank

Best Bank for Sustaining Communities

In the wake of the devastating earthquake on February 6 last year that struck Antakya and 11 towns in the surrounding region, Isbank secured $915 million from the Turkey: Disaster Response Framework of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to target recovery. It has financed and supported female entrepreneurs through numerous projects, including WeLead, which reached 3,500 women last year. It has also worked as part of a consortium to help refinance $574 million in renewable energy power plants. It has provided green loans to two companies to produce electric/hybrid tugboats.

OTP Bank

Best Bank for Sustainability Transparency

Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance

Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets

Hungary’s largest bank, with an extensive network of branches across Hungary and 12 other CEE countries, OTP Bank has long put sustainability at the heart of its business model. By the end of 2023, it had reached 230 billion Hungarian forints (about $642.4 million) in green loans (both corporate and retail), laying out its policies clearly through careful internal monitoring and through its ESG Exclusion List, which has been incorporated into its green loan framework to ensure that no investment takes place in any of the prohibited sectors.

The OTP Group has led the industry in sustainable project finance through its network of operations across CEE. In Romania, together with OTP Hungary, OTP Bank Romania participated in numerous syndicated loans to support sustainable real estate developments in Romania. The total exposure for these projects amounted to €115 million (about $124.9 million) by the end of 2022. OTP financed wind and solar energy production projects by more than €55 million, targeting a new generation capacity of over 1,250 MW from renewable sources.

The bank’s unique reach across CEE—in countries such as Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro—has given it access to growing opportunities for sustainable finance, with standardization of business practices and products encouraging the growth of sustainable financing in these countries. By the end of the third quarter of 2023, the OTP Group reported 403 billion forints in sustainable financing business across the region.

OTP Bank’s ESG-related loans have been on a rising trend over the past few years. Sustainalytics judges that OTP’s overall ESG risk score improved from 17.8 to 14.6, putting it into the low-risk category, with risk negligible in business ethics and product governance, and low in the areas of data privacy and security, ESG integration, financials and human capital.

Akbank

Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance

Best Bank for Social Bonds

Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Loans

One of Turkey’s largest banks, Akbank provided loan support to the Turkish economy of 1.2 trillion Turkish lira (about $38.5 billion) over 2023, with a strong focus on sustainable investment. It has provided 174 billion lira in 2023 to support a sustainable future, reaching 87% of the 2030 target of 200 billion lira in sustainable loan financing.

The bank has been very active in social bonds and transition-linked loans, increasing issue volume by about 100% for the year as of the end of 2023’s third quarter. Social loans over the first three quarters of 2023 increased 34 times over 2022, with a large proportion of this assisting the areas affected by February’s earthquake. Separately, Akbank contributed 650 million lira to help redevelop these areas and a further 10 billion lira in support to its customers in the area. An agreement signed with the EBRD secured a loan agreement of $90 million to be distributed in the region.

Akbank has also launched Turkey’s first sustainable deposit product, aimed at commercial customers, to enable them to contribute actively to projects aligned with the UN’s SDGs. The bank has supported SMEs through its SME Eco Transformation Package in collaboration with IGE (a company facilitating exports through guaranteed practices for companies) and by launching the IGE-Akbank Green Transformation Guarantee Support Package in 2023, explicitly aimed at helping SMEs to reduce their carbon footprint and lower their energy costs.

Raiffesen Bank International

Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds

As the second-largest bank in Austria, Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) has expanded into 13 CEE markets and had total assets of €198 billion at the end of 2023. Amid a corporate strategy to “make sustainability happen,” RBI plays a leading role in sustainable bonds, for which it was the fourth-largest issuer in CEE in the first three quarters of 2023, according to Bloomberg data. Sustainable bonds come in several formats (linking with ESG ratings or sustainability targets or linking through proof of sustainable use of funds), and RBI included two corporate bonds (ESG volume of €755 million and ESG volume share of 17%) and seven bonds issued by sovereigns or financial institutions (ESG volume of €2.6 billion and an ESG volume share of 7%).

Development and Investment Bank of Turkey

Best Development Bank for Sustainable Finance

The Development and Investment Bank of Turkey was founded by the Turkish state in 1975 and was committed to environmentalism long before it became widespread. Its share of SDG-related loans has reached over 90% of its portfolio, while the share of climate and energy SDG loans is now 60%. The bank’s loans have had a marked impact on reducing Turkey’s carbon footprint—the bank has financed 388 projects, accounting for over 15% of the country’s installed renewable energy projects, while it has helped fund 156 projects aimed at boosting renewable energy, cleaning wastewater and reducing industrial emissions.   —Justin Keay

Best Bank for Sustainable Finance BTG Pactual
Best Bank for Sustaining Communities BTG Pactual
Best Bank for Sustainability Transparency Banco do Brasil
Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance Itau BBA
Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance Bradesco BBI
Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets BTG Pactual
Best Bank for Green Bonds BBVA
Best Bank for Social Bonds Bradesco BBI
Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds Itau BBA
Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability Linked Bonds Bradesco BBI
Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability Linked Loans Scotiabank
Best Bank for ESG-Related Loans Scotiabank

Over the past few years, most Latin American countries have updated their nationally determined reductions of greenhouse gases under the Paris Climate Agreement, with some joining the High Ambition Coalition’s 30×30 initiative to protect the world’s terrestrial and marine areas. Achieving net-zero by 2050 will push Latin American spending to about $20 trillion, with annual spending on physical assets increasing by about $700 billion, according to McKinsey & Company. Because of their geographies, natural resources and economies, Brazil and Mexico account for over half the investing needs in this region.

Latin American banks are vital to this transition to a more sustainable economy, as they have been integral in developing and financing innovative sustainable debt. According to Sustainable Fitch, debt financings from this region have diverged from global trends in that they’re more focused on social objectives. The region has also seen an increase in unique financial instruments, like SLBs, that have KPIs linked to gender diversity and are issued by sovereign nations.

There’s a strong focus on developing infrastructure for underserved communities in Latin America. Banks have financed significant deals in the region that provided, for example, sanitation and water services and renewable energy. Sustainable debt instruments also fund forest conservation and initiatives to preserve the environment, as agriculture is a top industry in this part of the world.

BTG Pactual

Best Bank for Sustainable Finance

Best Bank for Sustaining Communities

Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets

Based in Brazil, BTG Pactual incorporates ESG criteria into its decision-making processes to understand the risks and opportunities of each new relationship as it relates to the environment, society and climate. The bank is committed to assisting clients in their transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy. To date, it has exceeded over 74 billion Brazilian reais (about $14.9 billion) in ESG-labeled issuances, reaching its CFO Taskforce goal two years ahead of schedule.

The bank has participated in notable financings to promote its ESG goals. BTG Pactual contributed to sanitation programs in Brazil with sustainable, blue, and sustainability-linked bonds in local and offshore markets. The bank worked with mega-operations of water and sanitation firms Aegea and Iguá, and contributed about 15 billion reais in ESG bonds for sanitation—with over 10.6 billion reais having a blue label. As the bank was one of the first to issue blue bonds, it has consulted with companies to help them develop a blue framework or structure blue bonds, contributing to expanding private company funding and disseminating the blue label in local markets. BTG Pactual also contributed to Aegea’s issuance of a sustainable and sustainability-linked bond with KPIs related to social and environmental issues.

Banco Do Brasil

Best Bank for Sustainability Transparency

Banco do Brasil’s long-term commitment is to assist its clients in their transition to a more sustainable economy. The bank has provided transparency through its ESG Databook and quarterly Management Discussion and Analysis reports during this process. These detail Banco do Brasil’s activities and finances regarding its sustainable financing activities. The bank has also maintained top ratings from MSCI and Sustainalytics and has had external reviews from consultancies regarding its sustainable credit portfolio and sustainable finance framework. Banco do Brasil recently approved its proposals and corresponding action plan. The bank’s policies covering environmental, social and climate issues are included in business and administrative practices.

Itaú BBA

Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance

Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds

Itaú BBA is committed to sustainable development in the countries where it operates, and this commitment is part of its activities and strategy combining environmental, social and climate aspects. The bank worked with sanitation firm Aegea to finance the Águas do Rio 1 and 4 projects to strengthen water and sanitation services. This is the largest infrastructure debenture and ESG-labeled transaction in the Brazilian market, with 5.5 billion reais raised in sustainable and blue debentures. The project will benefit 27 municipalities and 124 neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro by achieving 99% water coverage by 2032, 90% sewage coverage by 2033, and reducing water losses to 25% by 2033.

Bradesco BBI

Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance

Best Bank for Social Bonds

Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Bonds

Based in Brazil, Bradesco BBI has achieved at least 86% of its goal of mobilizing 250 billion reais in sustainable finance by 2025. The bank also set goals for net-zero first-round commitments for the coal, electricity generation, agriculture and food sectors.

The bank participated in Eletrobras’ largest issuance, a seven billion reais sustainable debenture that funds renewable energies, transmission lines, green hydrogen, access to renewable energy for populations in isolated areas, forest conservation, and access to education for underprivileged populations.

Bradesco BBI helped to finance Cogna Educação’s 500 million reais social bond. A first of its kind in the Brazilian market, bond proceeds provided educational resources to socially vulnerable municipalities.

The bank was also the bookrunner and ESG coordinator of Comerc Energia’s 1 billion reais green debenture, the company’s first green debenture for renewable energy, energy efficiency, efficient lighting and green hydrogen. Bradesco BBI helped define initiatives and environmental benefits derived from this transaction, and these are included in a framework encompassing Comerc Energia’s future issuances.

Bradesco BBI served as bookrunner and ESG coordinator of 5.5 billion reais Águas do Rio 1 and 4 sustainability and blue debentures that fund water and sanitation services provided by Aegea. This issuance is one of the largest in the local market.

BBVA

Best Bank for Green Bonds

BBVA’s strategy is focused on increasing growth through sustainability, achieving neutrality of green gas emissions, and promoting integrity within stakeholder relationships. Green bonds have become a core part of the bank’s strategy as it helps its clients transition toward a sustainable future. According to Bloomberg, BBVA was ranked the most active bookrunner in Mexico in 2023 for sustainable bonds.

The bank served as joint bookrunner for Colombia’s inaugural social bond with a $2.5 billion notional amount. This bond is the country’s first ESG-labeled offering in international capital markets and leverages the republic’s green, social and sustainable sovereign bond framework.

Scotiabank

Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Loans

Based in the Americas, Scotiabank has been working to advance climate transition and promote sustainable economic growth. In 2023, the bank underwrote 7.7 billion Canadian dollars (about $5.7 billion) in green loans and CA$4.7 billion in SLLs. Scotiabank was the sustainability structuring agent on Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogotá’s SLL. The structure encourages replacing copper wiring with fiber optics in the metropolitan area of Bogotá and developing equity strategies by training women in issues related to information and communications technologies.          —AM

Middle East

As a region, the Middle East highlights the tension between financing fossil fuels and achieving genuine sustainability.

The economies of many Middle Eastern nations, including the UAE, heavily rely on fossil fuel revenue. Banks play a crucial role in financing these industries, which directly contradicts the environmental pillar of sustainability.

A complete withdrawal from fossil fuels would be economically and socially disruptive in the Middle East and the global markets where it sells oil and gas, so the region’s banks are establishing a more transitional role, facilitating a gradual and managed transition towards cleaner energy sources, while still supporting current economic realities.

Green financing is increasing, with the region’s biggest banks actively increasing their investments in renewable energy and sustainable projects. In addition to adapting and transitioning their portfolios to keep pace with global and local ESG regulations, they are also taking steps to provide greater transparency and accountability by measuring and publicly disclosing the environmental impact of banks’ investments. Looking forward, banks in the Middle East are well-placed to help finance the global transition trend.

QNB Group

Best Bank for Sustainable Finance

Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance

Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets

Best Bank for Green Bonds

On its third iteration of its Sustainable Finance and Product Framework, QNB Group has developed a clear road map for integrating sustainability into its business practices and offerings. Green finance solutions include dedicated green, social (including SME financing), and sustainability-linked financing. Having issued the first green bond issued by a bank in Qatar in 2020, QNB executed the first interbank green deposit in the local market, completed green deposit placements with a large sovereign wealth fund, and in 2023, issued the first corporate green guarantee for renewable energy.

QNB’s eligible green loan portfolio in the geographies with established sustainable financing targets saw an increase of over 45% between December 2022 and November 2023, while QNB Group’s total sustainable financing portfolio of $8.5 billion is about 4% of the group’s total loan book.

A loan agreement with the EBRD will provide disaster relief in Turkey via QNB’s Turkish subsidiary, QNB Finansbank. A strong partnership with the EBRD since 2015 has resulted in more than $750 million of agreements. In March 2023, Egyptian subsidiary QNB Alahli launched the first green retail-financing program in cooperation with the EBRD to invest in green projects in Egypt.

Arab Bank

Best Bank for Sustaining Communities

Arab Bank has established a sustainability department responsible for systematically managing the goals and programs to improve the bank’s economic, social and environmental impacts. At the same time, a formal Sustainable Finance Framework outlines five focus areas: responsible financing, employee empowerment, transparent reporting, system optimization and community cooperation. Arab Bank actively invests in local communities through various programs, supporting education, health care and environmental initiatives.

The bank’s community investments totaled $20 million in 2022, with the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation and Arab Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, “Together,” leading the charge. Arab Bank also offers a range of products including green loans, social impact bonds and climate-focused investments—helping clients meet sustainability goals.

Boursa Kuwait

Best for Sustainability Transparency

Boursa Kuwait has a corporate sustainability strategy outlining its goals and initiatives across ESG’s three pillars: environmental, social and governance. It publishes annual Sustainability Reports detailing progress and performance on ESG metrics. Boursa Kuwait also offers a guide to help market participants integrate ESG reporting into their operations and provides workshops to advocate corporate and capital markets sustainability.

Eco-friendly practices within its office operations to reduce energy and water consumption while minimizing waste culminated in Boursa Kuwait being awarded a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification by the Green Building Council in 2023. While admitting it has limited environmental impact as a stock exchange, the complete renovation of its main trading hall to include greener state-of-the-art technologies sends a powerful message to the entire region.

SAB

Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance

In line with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 to diversify the economy away from oil, SAB (Saudi Awwal Bank) is committed to achieving sustainable financing and investments of 34 billion Saudi riyals (about $9 billion). To this end, SAB is the lead arranger for the 14 billion riyal financing raised to support the Red Sea Project, which prioritizes renewable energy and regenerative tourism and played a significant role in the inaugural green bond issuance of the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund.

As of December 2023, SAB has allocated around $3 billion toward sustainable finance projects, while SAB doubled its funded assets toward sustainable finance year-on-year. Financed projects include the $8.5 billion NEOM Green Hydrogen Company—the world’s largest green hydrogen production facility—which will play a crucial role in producing clean energy.

First Abu Dhabi Bank

Best Bank for Social Bonds

Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Loans

First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) is the first bank in the Middle East and North Africa to target net-zero emissions by 2050, addressing the bank’s operations to supporting clients’ transitions. Committed to providing $135 billion in sustainable and transition financing by 2030, FAB is on target to achieve this. In 2022, FAB facilitated in excess of $23.6 billion of sustainable finance: $9.5 billion in SLLs and $10.6 billion in green and social loans. FAB’s Green Bond & Private Placement accounted for 17% of all FAB Bond & Private Placement in 2023, and 12% in 2021, with an annual increase of 42%.

FAB issued a $600 million five-year green bond last year and a three-year $353.9 million sukuk to fund green and social projects.

Emirates NBD Capital

Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds

As the principal banking partner of COP28, the NBD Group, including Emirates NBD Capital (EmCap), pledged to mobilize more than 100 billion Emirati dirhams (about $27.2 billion) of sustainable finance by 2030. With EmCap’s support, clients mobilized more than $15 billion of sustainable finance in 2023 (67%) in the debt capital markets and 33% via labeled loans. EmCap successfully closed more than 20 green and sustainability bonds in 2023.

In 2023, EmCap ranked first in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries for bond issuances and was the highest-ranked regional bank in international sukuk. In 2024, EmCap hopes to take a global role in advising on labeled bonds and loans and structuring sustainability-linked tools. EmCap also plans to facilitate debt-for-nature swaps—involving developing debt being restructured, along with a promise that some funding is allocated for nature-related projects.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Bonds

In late 2023, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) raised $500 million by issuing Shariah-compliant green bonds, oversubscribed 5.2 times; this was the world’s first green dollar-denominated sukuk. ADIB aims to allocate an amount equal to the net proceeds of this issuance to fund green projects to accelerate climate transition. This may include financing or refinancing green projects, as well as financing customers for eligible green projects.

In launching its ESG strategy for the next three years, ADIB aims to take advantage of the overlap between the principles of Shariah law and ESG integration to maximize positive impacts. Financial instruments issued under ADIB’s sustainability framework include green, social and sustainability sukuk.

National Bank of Kuwait

The number of green loans provided by the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) increased by 14% in 2023, resulting in an increase of 10% in the total monetary value of green financing. This is in addition to a twofold increase in the number and monetary value of sustainability-linked facilities extended in 2023.

The total monetary value of social financing increased by 7% in 2023. Green mortgages to SLLs also increased in developed markets, including the US, France and Singapore. NBK has been expanding its retail business to offer consumers innovative financing solutions to adopt sustainable behaviors and lifestyles by providing electric vehicles and eco-friendly home loans.                        —Gilly Wright

Best Bank for Sustainable Finance Scotiabank
Best Bank for Sustainability Transparency Scotiabank
Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance CIBC
Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance CIBC
Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets Scotiabank
Best Bank for Green Bonds CIBC
Best Bank for Social Bonds Scotiabank
Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds CIBC
Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability Linked Bonds Scotiabank
Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability Linked Loans CIBC
Best Bank for ESG-Related Loans Scotiabank

According to SEB Group’s green bonds report, green bond issuance is expected to increase by up to 20% globally this year, and “North America and corporations will be the main drivers of growth in 2024.”

Why North America? Under the administration of US President Joe Biden, the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law in August 2022, “but it came into force only last year,” Gregor Vulturius, SEB’s lead scientist and adviser on climate and sustainable finance, tells Global Finance. That is, the “shiny new factories” will be showing up only this year and next; and of course, they will need financing.

It’s not as if the region underperformed last year, either. North America was up 80% in 2023 green bond issuance, which was in “a suffering bond market,” Vulturius notes.

Scotiabank

Best Bank for Sustainable Finance

Best Bank for Sustainability Transparency

Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets

Best Bank for Social Bonds

Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Bonds

Canada’s Scotiabank has an ambitious goal: to mobilize $350 billion to reduce the impacts of climate change by 2030. It reached $130 billion by the fiscal end of 2023, up from $96 billion in 2022—not too bad, given a relatively flat year for sustainable finance globally. ESG bonds accounted for 13.6% of the bank’s overall bond volume, a big jump from only 3% in 2022.

Scotia doesn’t confine itself to North America, either. According to Bloomberg, it was Latin America’s second-leading bookrunner for green, social, sustainable and other labeled bonds in 2023, with a 21% market share. In May, Scotia acted as ESG distributor for the United Mexican States’ Sustainable Sovereign Bond issuance, where demand reached approximately $1 billion.

The bank is active with various impact bonds, including SLBs. It was a sustainability structuring agent for Bell Canada, Canada’s largest communications company, when it added sustainability-linked pricing to its securitization program in September 2023. In June, Scotia also advised the Republic of Chile on its dollar and euro SLB offerings.

Elsewhere, Scotia supported Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad as joint bookrunner in a June 2023 social bond issuance and played a similar role for Canadian real estate firm Ivanhoe Cambridge for that firm’s inaugural sustainability bond. On the loan side of the ledger, Scotia tallied 67 ESG-loan deals between January 1 and October 31, 2023, with a total volume of CA$7.7 billion.

Finally, Scotiabank has committed to clear, open and detailed sustainability reporting—and once again takes North American honors for transparency. It developed and abided by four transparency principles that guide its net-zero strategy, and the bank regularly publishes its numeric progress toward achieving long-term goals.

CIBC

Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance

Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance

Best Bank for Green Bonds

Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds

Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Loans

Canada’s CIBC figured prominently in sustainable and project infrastructure finance in 2023. In June 2023, the bank co-led a syndicate of underwriters for Northland Power’s CA$500 million fixed-to-fixed-rate green subordinated notes issuance. The power company will use the proceeds for green projects, including an offshore wind farm in Poland and an energy storage project in Ontario, Canada.

CIBC was also the lead arranger and administrative agent for the AES Clean Energy Master Indenture Structure warehouse upsizing. The $2.7 billion refinancing project, which happened in May 2023, included 25 banks and was the largest debt financing for a US renewables transaction.

The bank’s prowess for green and sustainable bond underwriting was already described in the global awards above, but the bank was also a standout in SLLs in 2023. It was Canada’s top bookrunner, with a 25% market share according to Bloomberg, and it acted as sole bookrunner, lead arranger and sustainability structuring agent for $700 million FortisBC Energy’s revolver financing—with a performance target for Scope 3 emissions as well as a social target aimed at protecting Canada’s indigenous population.

Additionally, CIBC was a joint bookrunner for Enbridge’s $900 million sustainability-linked notes, OMERS Realty Corporation’s $600 million green debentures, and Sun Life Financial’s $500 million sustainable subordinated debentures offerings over the past year.           —Andrew Singer

Best Bank for Sustainable Finance CaixaBank
Best Bank for Sustaining Communities CaixaBank
Best Bank for Sustainability Transparency LGT
Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance ING
Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance ING
Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets Societe Generale
Best Bank for Green Bonds ING
Best Bank for Social Bonds CaixaBank
Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds Societe Generale
Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability Linked Bonds Societe Generale
Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability Linked Loans Nordea
Best Bank for ESG-Related Loans CaixaBank

Green bonds dominate sustainable finance, and Western Europe dominates green bonds. The world’s top three banks in green bonds and loans in 2023 were Western European—BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole and HSBC, according to Bloomberg data—while year-end green bond issuance in Europe outclassed its closest regional rival, Asia-Pacific, $243.75 billion to $174.2 billion, according to Climate Bonds Initiative data.

Looking ahead, falling EU interest rates and new standards for green bond issuances bode well for 2024 and beyond. On the punitive side, European banks could encounter new fines and higher capital requirements if they delay implementing green transition plans too long. More European banks, too, are imposing internal restrictions on their fossil-fuel sector financing.

Caixabank

Best Bank for Sustainable Finance

Best Bank for Sustaining Communities

Best Bank for Social Bonds

For CaixaBank, sustainable finance is about more than reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also entails a strong social commitment, such as boosting financial inclusion through its microfinance bank, Europe’s largest; or issuing social bonds, a bond type that some other banks abandoned after the Covid-19 crisis.

Indeed, when Caixa closed on its fifth social bond, in May 2023, that €1 billion debt instrument focused on education and health care was oversubscribed by €750 million.

Caixa is also a leader on ESG-related loans. It ranked third globally, according to Refinitiv, and was first in Europe in the first half of 2023, providing $11.65 billion in financing through 57 transactions.

The bank also brings some resourcefulness to its deals. As sustainability coordinator for Acciona Energía’s €750 million green financing in November 2023, the bank incorporated a local impact indicator in which participating companies committed to planting 26,000 trees per year (collectively) during the financing’s term.

LGT

Best Bank for Sustainability Transparency

LGT Group, Liechtenstein’s royal family-owned private banking and asset management group, began to embed sustainability-oriented clauses in its investment programs decades ago. It makes a point of publishing the extent to which its investments meet sustainability criteria.

As of June 30, 2023, the group had invested 54.5 billion Swiss francs (about $62 billion) in sustainable investment solutions globally, representing 36% of LGT’s total assets under management. That was up from 34.8% at year-end 2022. Moreover, 80% of LGT’s discretionary mandates in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia now meet the EU’s Article 8 sustainability requirements, which qualify as “light-green” funds that “promote investments or projects with positive environmental or social qualities, or a combination of such characteristics, as long as the investments are made in enterprises that adhere to sound governance practices.”

ING

Best Bank for Sustainable Infrastructure Finance

Best Bank for Sustainable Project Finance

Best Bank for Green Bonds

The Netherlands’ ING was 12th globally among green bond bookrunners in 2023, according to cbonds.com, and many of those issuances were in Western Europe. In June 2023, for instance, ING acted as sole structurer and joint active bookrunner on Anglian Water’s £860 million (about $1.1 billion) dual-tranche green bond issuance to help meet that water and sewerage company’s capital expenditures.

In infrastructure finance, ING played multiple roles, including sole underwriter and mandated lead arranger, in AtlasEdge’s plans to expand sustainable data centers across Europe. The company raised €525 million in committed debt financing and a further €200 million uncommitted accordion facility. The 2023 sustainability-linked financing includes KPIs to ensure the new data centers use renewable energy.

ING is a veteran of sustainable project finance, too. As sustainability coordinator for Baltic Power’s offshore wind farm project and its €4.1 billion multibank credit facility, for instance, ING helped ensure that financing aligned with the Loan Syndications and Trading Association’s Green Loan Principles and the International Capital Market Association’s Green Bond Principles. Baltic Power will be the world’s first to use low-emission steel produced almost entirely from recycled raw material.

Societe Generale

Best Bank for Sustainable Bonds

Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Bonds

Best Bank for Sustainable Financing in Emerging Markets

Societe Generale (SocGen) SLBs lost momentum in 2023, but SocGen stayed the course, acting as structuring adviser and joint bookrunner for the Republic of Chile’s €750 million SLB issuance in June. SocGen was also the sole structuring adviser in the UK’s Heathrow Airport €650 million SLB, with its separate performance targets for slashing carbon emissions “in the air” and “on the ground.”

As noted in the Global Winners section, according to Natixis, SocGen is one of the only commercial (i.e., nondevelopmental) banks that has ever issued green, social and sustainable bonds. In September 2023, SocGen was the global coordinator for French real estate development and investment company Praemia Healthcare’s €500 million sustainability bond. Proceeds will finance green and social assets—including medical and eldercare facilities.

SocGen has been a perennial supporter of sustainable finance projects in the emerging world, and 2023 was no different. In Central and West Africa, it partnered with Afrigreen, a debt investment fund, to support the decarbonization of local companies, raising €87.5 million. In contrast, in Kazakhstan, the bank supported the development of green mobility as global coordinator and mandated lead arranger for the €627 million financing of 105 electric locomotives to be used in that Central Asian nation, among other projects.

Nordea

Best Bank for Transition/Sustainability-Linked Loans

Finland’s Nordea kept its innovative skills sharp in 2023, introducing its second sustainability-linked loan bond, or SLLB, at the end of August. The €1 billion issuance followed the first-ever SLLB (€370 million) launch in late 2022. This hybrid instrument uses standard use-of-proceeds bonds to fund a portfolio of SLLs, though with no coupon adjustment for investors. The bank absorbs any performance shortfall.

Overall, SLLs at Nordea were up 30% in the first three quarters of 2023 compared to 2022, and the bank ranked top in SLLs in the Nordic region, according to Bloomberg.        —AS

AFRICA
Egypt CIB
Ghana Ecobank
Kenya Absa
Nigeria Access Bank
South Africa Nedbank
ASIA-PACIFIC
China DBS
Hong Kong OCBC
India DBS
Indonesia Bank Rakyat Indonesia
Japan MUFG
Malaysia OCBC Malaysia
Philippines BPI
Singapore DBS
South Korea Industrial Bank of Korea
Taiwan DBS
Thailand Bangkok Bank
Vietnam SHB
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
Armenia Ameriabank
Czech Republic CSOB
Hungary OTP Bank
Poland Bank Pekao
Slovakia VUB Banka
Turkey Akbank
LATIN AMERICA
Brazil BTG Pactual
Chile Scotiabank
Colombia Bancolombia
Dominican Republic Banco Popular Dominicano
Ecuador Produbanco
Mexico Citibanamex
MIDDLE EAST
Bahrain National Bank of Bahrain
Jordan Arab Bank
Kuwait Kuwait Finance House
Qatar QNB Group
Saudi Arabia SAB
UAE First Abu Dhabi Bank
NORTH AMERICA
Canada Scotiabank
United States Bank of America
WESTERN EUROPE
Austria Erste Bank
Belgium KBC Group
Denmark Nordea
Finland Nordea
France BNP Paribas
Germany Commerzbank
Greece Eurobank
Italy Mediobanca
Luxembourg Spuerkeess
Netherlands ING
Norway Nordea
Portugal Millennium BCP
Spain BBVA
Sweden Nordea
Switzerland UBS
United Kingdom NatWest

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