Aligning Colombia’s Financial System with Sustainable Development: Current Practice and Future Potential to Mobilize Investment for the Green Economy

United Nations Environment Programme ; International Finance Corporation (2015)

A range of factors is driving increasing focus within the financial system on the linkages with sustainable development. With a new set of Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations (UN) to be agreed upon in September 2015 and the Climate Change Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) coming up in Paris at the end of 2015, national and international organizations are interested in providing enabling conditions for a greener economy. In this scenario, the financial system plays a fundamental role in mobilizing capital to a greener economy and creating general awareness about the importance of this shift and the opportunities it creates. Domestic policies and frameworks play a critical role, and almost three-quarters of climate finance, one of the components of sustainable finance, originates and is being invested in the same country. Sustainable or green finance, terms that will be used interchangeably in this document, refers to the capability of the financial system to integrate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria in the investment or credit decision-making process, and to allocate resources in projects, financial assets, or portfolios with a positive impact on sustainable development challenges. Since 2012, the G20 Development Working Group has been focusing on inclusive green growth and has asked the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to support its efforts to mobilize private investment, including from institutional investors, in this regard. Supported by Germany’s Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), IFC is working with the G20’s GreenInvest Platform to create the enabling environment and engage domestic investors in countries to support this agenda. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently initiated the “Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System” (UNEP Inquiry) to advance design options that would deliver a step change in the financial system’s effectiveness in mobilizing capital toward a green and inclusive economy. Working in partnership, IFC and UNEP are exploring this topic in Colombia. This document has been commissioned by the IFC and the UNEP Inquiry to explore the state of green finance in Colombia within the wider economic and financial sector context, and at the same time, to identify challenges and potential solutions that would enhance the application of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria in the financial sector decision-making process and mobilize more investments for the transition toward a green economy. The project involved two major steps: first, it undertook a holistic mapping of the Colombia green finance landscape with regard to the relevant stakeholders and the relevant types and volumes of finance, as well as current and planned financial policies, regulations, and standards

second, it then identified the challenges that prevent increased green capital flow, and discussed how these might be overcome. The consulting team conducted more than 32 interviews with the heads of relevant institutions in the financial sector - specifically, private pension funds, private equity funds, insurance companies, commercial banks, development banks, asset managers, financial associations, government and regulatory agencies, and private standard setters, underpinned by desktop research based on public information sources