Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK) / 香港地球之友綠色金融顧問

The outbreak of COVID-19 is affecting countries, big and small, around the world. Governments and organisations are stepping up support for people and businesses. This gives rise to the popularity of issuance of social bonds, which are used to finance projects that having positive social influence. Paying for healthcare system, providing subsidies for SME/employment and building affordable homes are project examples.

In March 2020, the International Capital Markets Association (ICMA) highlighted the role of social bonds in helping the fight of coronavirus pandemic. According to data shared by Morgan Stanley, about US$32 billion of social bonds have been issued in April 2020 alone, exceeding the issuance of green bonds for the first time. Some of the issuers include European Investment Bank, Cassa depositi e prestiti and Bpifrance. Both social bonds and green bonds are under the umbrella of sustainable bonds.

We recommend the HKSAR government to issue social bonds in response to COVID-19. This will not only give more financial support to the Hong Kong people but also help promote Hong Kong’s strengths and thought leadership on green and sustainable finance regionally and globally. This is among the things that the Green and Sustainable Finance Cross-Agency Steering Group (established last month, initiated by HKMA and SFC) wants to achieve. Noticeably, the HK Exchange recently announced the launch of Sustainable and Green Exchange – STAGE. An online repository for sustainability, green and social bonds and ESG-related Exchange Traded is expected to roll out later this year as part of the initial phase of STAGE. COVID-19 social bonds could be put into this repository.

More about the STAGE (https://sc.hkex.com.hk/TuniS/www.hkex.com.hk/news/news-release/2020/200618news?sc_lang=zh-cn.)

COVID-19的爆發正在影響世界各地的大小國家。各地政府和機構正在加大對人民和企業的支持。這引起了社會責任債券發行的普及,這些債券用於為具有積極社會影響力的項目提供資金。支付醫療保健系統費用,發放中小企業務補貼/就業補貼和建造負擔得起的房屋就是項目的例子。

2020年3月,國際資本市場協會(ICMA)強調了社會責任債券在幫助抗擊新冠病毒大流行中的作用。根據摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)的報告,僅在2020年4月全球已發行了約320億美元的社會責任債券,首次超過了綠色債券的發行量。其中一些發行人包括歐洲投資銀行、意大利國有銀行和法國國家投資銀行。社會責任債券和綠色債券都屬於可持續債券的範疇。

我們建議香港特區政府針對COVID-19發行社會責任債券。這不僅將為香港人提供更多的財政支持,而且還將有助於在區域和全球範圍內增強香港在綠色和可持續金融方面的實力和思想領導力。這是由金管局和證監會在上月共同發起成立的綠色和可持續金融跨機構督導小組希望實現的目標之一。值得一提的是,香港交易所最近宣布啟動可持續及綠色交易所。作為STAGE初始階段的一部分,有望在今年晚些時候推出有關可持續性、綠色和社會責任債券以及與ESG相關的交易所交易的線上儲存庫。COVID-19社會責任債券可以放入此儲存庫中。

有關STAGE的更多資訊 (https://www.hkex.com.hk/News/News-Release/2020/200618news?sc_lang=zh-HK)

Image source 圖片來源: Scaling Impact