World Bank Launches Initiative to Raise US$3 Billion in Sustainable Development Bonds, Highlighting Critical Role of Water and Ocean Resources

The World Bank is launching a Sustainable Development Bond series to raise awareness of the critical role of water and ocean resources. The bonds aim to raise at least US$3 billion and will provide investors with an opportunity to highlight their support for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that address water, sanitation and marine protection.

The bond series, which supports the World Bank’s strategic focus on conservation and sustainable use of fresh and salt water resources, forms part of the Bank’s issuance strategy to engage investors around the SDGs since their launch in 2015. The focus for the new series is to support SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and SDG 14 (life below water) and follows bond series earlier this year that focused on gender and health and nutrition.

Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank Chief Executive Officer, said:

“Seventy percent of the planet’s surface is water, yet degraded ocean resources and lack of access to safe water negatively affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Through this bond series we will remind investors and the markets that we must protect our water and marine resources today for the generations of tomorrow. As the world’s leading issuer of sustainable development bonds, we also offer an excellent opportunity to invest capital towards global public goods.”

The World Bank focuses on conservation and sustainable use of water through two lenses and will look to harness the support of investors that prioritize these areas: first, sustainable water management to ensure access to safe water and water security; and second, sustainable use of ocean and marine resources. The bond series is framed by World Water Week currently underway, and the “Our Ocean” conference in Bali in October.

Arunma Oteh, World Bank Vice President and Treasurer, said:

“World Bank Sustainable Development Bonds are an opportunity for investors to invest in safe and liquid product as they become more engaged in the purpose of their investment. They are an important contributor in the journey towards sustainable capital markets. Following bonds issued earlier this year to raise awareness for gender and health and nutrition, we are pleased to launch this new initiative and engage with investors around another critical topic – clean water and healthy oceans, lifelines for people and economies the world over.”

The World Bank is the world’s largest multilateral source of financing for water in developing countries, with US$37 billion in water-related investments. This includes the World Bank’s water portfolio of 170 projects worth US$26.7 billion, as well as projects with a water sector-related component totaling approximately $10 billion.

The World Bank also works with countries to promote strong governance of marine and coastal resources to support sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, make coastlines more resilient, establish coastal and marine protected areas, and reduce pollution. This “Blue Economy” approach supports economic growth, social inclusion and the preservation or improvement of livelihoods while at the same time ensuring the environmental sustainability of oceans and coastal areas. The World Bank’s active Blue Economy portfolio is worth US$3.7 billion.  

With annual issuances between US$50-US$60 billion annually, all World Bank bonds finance programs that support the Sustainable Development Goals. World Bank bonds are aligned with the sustainability bond guidelines published by the International Capital Markets Association (ICMA). The World Bank is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Green Bond Principles. A key priority for the World Bank’s engagement in the capital markets is to build strategic partnerships with investors to raise awareness for the role of private sector financing in development.

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