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Transition bonds: a new tool to fund the shift towards climate sustainability?

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As companies look to shift towards more environmentally sustainable modes of operation, transition bonds are increasingly being seen as a key financial tool for those in fossil fuel or heavy-polluting sectors.

Transition bonds are a relatively new class of debt instrument used to fund a company’s transition towards a reduced environmental impact or lower carbon emissions. They are often issued in fields that would not normally qualify for green bonds, such as large carbon-emitting industries like oil and gas, iron and steel, chemicals, aviation and shipping.

Amid a heightened awareness of the need to reduce carbon emissions, many expected transition bonds to play a key role in global financial markets in 2021.

However, data compiled by BloombergNEF found that, as of mid-May, just six had been issued this year. A total of 11 were issued during 2020 as a whole, according to analysis from non-profit organisation Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), so 2021’s figure to date does not represent a huge increase.

The deals for 2021 include the $300m sale from Castle Peak Power in February, the proceeds of which will be put towards the construction of a gas turbine unit at a power station in Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong branch of the Bank of China’s issuance of a $780m transition bond in January for projects aligned with China’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.

Elsewhere, in January the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development issued a A$280m ($216.6m) transition bond to finance its portfolio of green transition projects, while in February Italian energy infrastructure company SNAM launched a €750m dual-tranche transition bond to help meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2040.

Appetite for transitioning

While the uptake of transition bonds may have been a little slower than expected, there are some signs that they will play a more prominent role moving forwards.

In February this year the London Stock Exchange announced the establishment of a transition bond segment on its sustainable bond market, while there have been calls for Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to introduce a goal of selling 30 transition bonds by 2023.

In another significant decision, earlier this month the Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced that it would no longer fund coal mining or oil and natural gas production and exploration.

While this was a blow to companies dealing in fossil fuel production, the announcement was an encouraging sign for the future of transition bonds in emerging markets, as the bank noted that it would continue to provide financial support for plants transitioning to cleaner solutions.

“ADB will support developing member countries to mitigate the health and environmental impact of existing coal-fired power plants and district heating systems through financing of emission control technologies,” the bank said in a statement.

Looking ahead, transition bonds are principally expected to benefit from broader global trends towards sustainable or green finance.

Analysis from the CBI released in April found that, despite the severe economic impact of Covid-19, a record $700bn in green, social and sustainable finance was issued last year, almost double the $358bn recorded in 2019.

Indeed, in March S&P Global predicted that transition finance could account for $1trn of the estimated $3trn in annual funding needed to meet long-term climate goals.

Concerns over “transition-washing”

Although many are optimistic about the value of transition bonds, others are concerned about how much of an impact they will actually have in bringing about positive sustainable and environmental outcomes.

A common criticism revolves around just how ambitious many of these transition bonds are, with the absence of clear international standards raising concerns about the potential for “transition-washing” among companies.

To help address this concern, in December last year the Switzerland-based industry trade group International Capital Market Association published the Climate Transition Finance Handbook in order to provide a framework for transition strategies.

The guide, which aims to create general rules for transition-themed green bonds and sustainability-linked bonds, stated that bonds with the “transition” label should clearly stipulate how the funding will be used to support the Paris climate accord.

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Uzbekistan Continues to Modernize its Tax Administration System

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 The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today the Tax Administration Reform Project in Uzbekistan, which is designed to improve the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the State Tax Committee (STC) and deliver better services to local taxpayers.

The project will be supported by a $60 million concessional credit from the International Development Association (IDA), with financing provided to the Government at a very low-interest rate and a repayment period of 30 years.

“The Government of Uzbekistan has prioritized reforms in the tax administration system to create a better business and investment environment. The new project will help the STC improve its work in the interest of taxpayers,” said Marco Mantovanelli, World Bank Country Manager for Uzbekistan. “In particular, the project will allow to broaden the tax base, leading to a reduction in the informal sector of the economy, which is estimated to be around 50% of GDP; to increase tax revenues; and to help firms and companies create new jobs, benefiting from a more efficient tax administration system.”

The project includes three key components directed at improving the STC’s operational, institutional, technological and human resource capacities, and promoting voluntary compliance across Uzbekistan.

Component 1 will invest in automating the STC’s core tax administration business processes. This includes developing the STC’s new tax management information system to reduce paperwork and simplify the process of paying taxes by businesses and individuals countrywide; upgrading hardware and technological infrastructure; creating a new data center for the STC; and improving governance and the planning capacity of the STC’s IT department.

Component 2 will assist with designing and implementing measures to reduce the informal sector of the economy. This includes improving the STC’s enforcement capabilities to detect and discourage tax evasion; encouraging businesses to stay out of the shadows, including through the use of non-tax incentives; and developing cooperative relationships with the private sector, including through designing new or simplified tax policies and procedures and building partnerships to change taxpayers’ behavior.

Component 3 aims to strengthen the STC’s human resource and institutional capacities to attract, develop, and retain skilled and knowledgeable tax officials. This includes improving STC’s human resources management policies and building capacity through the continuous professional development of tax officials. 

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Top 5 Examples of Best Nonprofit Grant Proposals

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small-business-economy

Introduction

Compiling a grant proposal is a complicated task. Nonprofits have to conduct ample amounts of research, create multiple drafts and compile everything to fit the criteria of the grant foundation. The odds of getting your proposal accepted are already stacked against you and the best way to ensure success is by staying prepared. One way you can make your grant proposal air-tight is by reviewing successful grant proposals. You can add points from previously successful documents to strengthen your case. 

Preparation is key

Drafting a grant proposal can be a lengthy process. It is a good idea to start gathering data and reviewing it beforehand. Reviewing successful grant proposals can help you get new ideas and perhaps, inspiration even. You can find a list of effective examples on the internet and we have compiled a few here to make things easy for you.

5 Examples of effective grant proposals

To ease the understanding, the examples are divided as per the sectors for which nonprofits often work.

Education

Education is a key foundation for society and if you are looking to seek a grant to support an educational initiative, this particular example might be conveniently helpful.

Salem Education Foundation: This particular grant was submitted by a school that sought to receive funding for enriched learning opportunities that lay beyond the scope of a conventional classroom. This particular grant proposal was written for history students of the school.

Youth

Children can be the most at-risk group of society and there are a multitude of nonprofits that aim to help them. Consequently, there are a huge number of grants that aim to help children fulfill their potential and lead happy lives. The following example is how a grant proposal should look like when the focus of their goal is improving the lives of children.

William T. Grant Foundation: This grant is given to those groups that actively conduct research that is solely focused on improving the lives of young people in the United States. The foundation often publishes accepted grant proposals to help guide those looking to apply. Review their proposals for a better idea on how to craft yours.

Individual and family support

If your nonprofit is actively seeking to serve the disadvantaged population of society, then you will need to submit a proposal that highlights their plight. The following proposal is an example that will help you decide the inclusions for your proposal.

Kennett Area Senior Center: This particular grant was submitted by the Kennett Area Senior Center to the community grant foundation. The grant proposal was a request for funds to provide assistance and necessary services for senior citizens.

Arts

If your nonprofit is aiming to raise funds for an arts program or a project, the following example demonstrates what your grant proposal should look like. Upon review you will be clear on what to include in your documentation:

University of Minnesota’s Imagine Fund: Take a look at various successful proposals that were submitted to the Imagine Fund program. This program is known for supporting arts-related projects.

Science

Whether it is scientific research, conservation, or any form of scientific endeavor, the following proposals can provide you with ideas for your grant proposal. You can review them and figure out what to include and how you can solidify the strength of your proposal.

NIAID: The National Allergy and Infectious Diseases grants various funds to institutes and nonprofits looking to drive advancement in the field of science and scientific research. You can peruse through various types of successful grants and figure out what made each one stand out.

Final thoughts

These examples are just some of many grant proposals that have achieved success. By studying them and reviewing the literature, your nonprofit can take away ideas and insights which can be useful in drafting your proposal.

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Global value chains in the aftermath of the pandemic: What role for the G20?

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Can embedding inclusive and sustainable transformation at the core of multilateral efforts help ensure that countries benefit from integration in global value chains (GVCs)? This was the question addressed by a stellar line-up of speakers brought together for a webinar organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), together with the International Affairs Institute (IAI) and in cooperation with the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and the German Institute for Global Area Studies.

In the framework of the T20 Spring Roundtables, the virtual event brought together more than 200 participants worldwide. The discussion focused on inclusiveness and sustainability in global value chains in the aftermath of the coronavirus disruptions, and served as a platform to develop ideas and recommendations for the G20.

UNIDO’s Director General, LI Yong, said that to build back better, “we can stimulate inclusiveness by focusing our policy efforts on building state-of-the-art capabilities in small and medium-sized enterprises (…) and sustainability through smart regulation, including a new generation of trade and investment agreements.” Moreover, he stressed the need “to increase our joint efforts towards strengthening multilateral approaches to policymaking.

Pier Carlo Padoan, the Vice President of the IAI and T20 Italy Lead Co-Chair of Task Force 3: Trade, Investment and Growth, echoed the sentiment and brought the focus onto how we can strengthen the backbone of global value chains, and reaffirmed that “the G20 must retain its leadership in building up a new paradigm of sustainable growth,” despite the deep flaws and scars created by the coronavirus crisis in the current system.

“Making global supply chains fair and sustainable is a task in which policymakers and private enterprises have to engage,” said Norbert Barthle, Parliamentary State Secretary in Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. He said Germany’s Due Diligence Act is looking to address these challenges holistically by ensuring higher social standards in global value chains, leveling the playing field, and enhancing transparency in supply chains.

When looking at the playing field, buyers and suppliers find themselves in uneven positions, depending on the governance landscape. In this context, Beata Javorcik, Chief Economist of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), underlined that “we need clear messaging about commitments to sustainability, we need to reduce information asymmetries,” as this will enhance the inclusiveness of global value chains, allowing for firms of all sizes to engage with and participate in global trade.

Diving deeper into global trade, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, highlighted the importance of ensuring transparency and predictability for greater participation of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in global value chains. Coke-Hamilton said this can be achieved by mainstreaming and facilitating compliance with international standards, supporting innovation and digital technologies, and promoting sustainability.

Marco Felisati, Business 20 Sherpa and Confindustria’s Deputy Director of Internationalization and Trade Policy, echoed the panel’s view that “there is no trade-off between competitiveness and sustainability.” He highlighted that “on the contrary, complying with high sustainability factors is a competitiveness factor, and being competitive is a prerequisite for GVCs to be sustainable and inclusive.”

Mario Cimoli, Deputy to the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), reaffirmed that “manufacturing continues to be crucial.” He said in Latin America the pandemic has highlighted that manufacturing remains a key issue, as it is the only way “to expand industry, create diversification, and to sustain wages.”

 As many countries are opening up again after a year of restrictions, speakers agreed that the time is now to look beyond the pandemic and focus on ensuring that global value chains become more inclusive and sustainable. The panel agreed that international coordination through multilateral bodies such as the G20 will be vital in moving forward.   

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