As the UN has recognised, it will not be possible to build a greener future unless the private sector and the world of finance play their part.
What options are available to companies that want to combine financing with sustainable development?
Two options are currently available: the first is the 'green bond', by the end of 2017 there were USD 895 billion green bonds in circulation, and the second option are the ‘sustainability-linked’ loans or ‘positive impact’ loans, for companies that may be reluctant to issue securities or do not have specific projects to finance.
Originally a well-kept secret, this method of financing is growing fast.
Cecile Moitry, Director of Sustainable Finance and Investment at BNP Paribas Corporate and Institutional Banking, says: "The total volume of EUR 4.5 billion of syndicated loans in 2017 was surpassed by the middle of February this year."
In short, sustainability-linked loans are put together as standard loan agreements in terms of their pricing and risk, but they are then matched with green targets and assessed for their achievement of these by a third party. What happens when the target is reached? The company receives a discount. If they miss their target, they have to pay a ‘penalty’.
In October last year, the mail service bpost was the first to sign up to one of these loans and was soon joined by others: Danone recently incorporated ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance – editor's note) criteria when refinancing a EUR 2 billion credit facility.
Some want to take the concept even further
Why should the green risk not be assessed in the same way as operational risk, for example? Regulators are playing their part, encouraging companies to be more transparent in their sustainability strategies. Companies raising finance in this way and which are therefore involved in this approach should be subject to less stringent risk acceptance criteria.
But is this a good way of encouraging companies in their energy transition efforts? There are other levers that can be used. And banks can make a difference through their commitment, and by helping their customers develop new business models.
Source: CIB BNP Paribas
Test it here: how sustainable is your organisation?
BNP Paribas Fortis' Sustainable Business Competence Centre (SBCC), which helps companies transition to a sustainable business model, has developed a test to help you determine your company's progress in achieving sustainability. You can set to work immediately with the results of this test.
As Belgium's largest bank, BNP Paribas Fortis wants to drive socio-economic development in our country. This development requires companies to transition to a sustainable business model. As this is not particularly straightforward, BNP Paribas Fortis wants to make its expertise available to its customers.
One of the SBCC's initiatives is a brand-new test aimed at corporates, SMEs and institutional customers. The test consists of 15 questions relating to the steps you need to take to become more sustainable: awareness, diagnosis, quick wins, business model and cooperation and innovation. Once you have finished the test, you will receive the results in your mailbox instantly.
The SBCC uses your answers to make practical recommendations for your journey towards more sustainable entrepreneurship. In addition, we have all the resources needed to guide you throughout your transition from start to finish:
- technological expertise in high-tech, ICT, biotech, medtech, clean and green tech, and more
- a network of companies and business associates
- financial products and services that facilitate the transition to a sustainable model
Is your organisation ready for a sustainable future?
BNP Paribas Group, second quarter 2019 results
The business of BNP Paribas was up this quarter in a context where economic growth remained positive in Europe but slowed down, implying expectations of a continued low interest rate environment.
Director and Chief Executive Officer of BNP Paribas, Jean-Laurent Bonnafé:
“BNP Paribas delivered in the first half an increase in net income at 4.4 billion euros. Revenues were up thanks to business growth in the operating divisions. Operating expenses were well contained and benefitted from the transformation plan, generating a positive jaws effect. The common equity Tier 1 ratio rose to 11.9%, illustrating the Group’s solid balance sheet. New digital experiences rolled out for customers are a success and the Group is actively executing its ambitious policy of engagement in society. I would like to thank all the employees of the Group for their dedicated efforts to achieve these good results. ”
BNP Paribas Group, first quarter 2019 results
The business of BNP Paribas was up this quarter for the three operating divisions with in particular a gradual upturn in the business of CIB. Economic growth slowed down in Europe but remained positive. After the crisis in the markets at the end of 2018, the market context remained lackluster at the beginning of the quarter, but improved towards the end of the period.
Director and Chief Executive Officer of BNP Paribas, Jean-Laurent Bonnafé:
“BNP Paribas delivered a good level of result this quarter, at 1.9 billion euros. Revenues were up thanks to business growth in the operating divisions with in particular an upturn in client business at CIB. Operating expenses were well contained and benefitted from cost saving measures, generating a positive jaws effect.”
Do companies really want a more sustainable world?
Yes, the success of our Sustainable Business Ateliers is good proof of that. Most companies are aware of their social responsibility, but some are in need of information. To help them on their way, BNP Paribas Fortis organises regular regional Sustainable Business Workshops. Last year, our bank organised two pilot sessions in Liège and Limburg and more recently it was the turn of Namur, Gits (in West Flanders) and Ghent. Other Belgian cities will be announced soon.
During the Sustainable Business Workshops the invited clients are inspired by the experts from our Sustainable Business Competence Centre, and by other clients who speak about the actions they have already taken with their business.
After the presentations, participants are divided into groups and share experiences led by a moderator.
How do clients rate them?
Feedback from the participants revealed that the focus on cooperation and networking opportunities are the greatest advantages of the Workshops. Those attending always include representatives of small, medium-sized and large businesses from a variety of sectors - a diversity which participants find highly enriching. After all, no single company can overcome all of the present challenges on its own. Companies will not only have to cooperate with one another, but also with the government, universities, startups, etc. to make progress.
According to the participants, BNP Paribas Fortis is also the only financial service provider that goes great lengths to support companies in the area of sustainable business, by analysing at which stage of the sustainable business path the companies are and by guiding them to use sustainability as an opportunity for their activities.
Do you want to participate in one of our Sustainable Business Workshops? Please contact your Relationship Manager for the practical details.
Not a client yet? And do you want to know more about the guidance we offer and the benefits of sustainability for your company? Discover what our Sustainable Business Competence Centre can do for you.