Rev. Daniel Ogbarmey Tetteh, Director General, SEC
Rev. Daniel Ogbarmey Tetteh, Director General, SEC

New SEC Green Bond guidelines: Crucial first step

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s introduction of the new Green Bond Guidelines begins a potentially transformative era for the capital market. 

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­­­These guidelines cannot only revolutionise sustainable finance and drive investment in environmentally friendly projects nationwide, but significantly reshape Ghana's financial landscape and the broader economy, offering a host of benefits for all stakeholders, especially companies looking to raise funds for projects that save our environment.

Green bonds are financial instruments specifically designed to fund projects with environmental benefits. Think of a financial instrument as a tool for managing money. It is something you can sell, buy or invest in, such as stocks, bonds or even insurance policies.

Just as your wristwatch helps you manage time, financial instruments help individuals and companies manage their finances differently. Green bonds as financial instruments can help companies with serious concerns about the environmental impact on human activities, including that of their operations, to raise money, payable over some time (for example two, three and five years), to invest in operations that have less impact on the environment.

Let's say a company in Tamale wants to build a new solar power plant to reduce toxic emissions from their diesel generators which pollute air quality and add to the known substances that cause climate change.

That company could issue a green bond. Individual and institutional investors who care about environmental sustainability could buy these bonds, providing the company with the funds it needs to build the solar plant.

Then, the company pays back the investors with interest over time using the revenue generated from the solar plant. It creates a win-win situation where the company gets the funds it needs, and investors support a green project while earning a return on their investment.

Framework

The SEC Guidelines provide a framework for issuing and regulating green bonds. By facilitating the issuance of green bonds, they encourage private and public businesses to invest in sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, clean transportation and other environmentally sustainable initiatives.

This will not only contribute to mitigating climate change but also stimulate economic growth and job creation in industrial sectors in Ghana aligned with green technologies and practices.

One of the most compelling aspects of the guidelines is their potential to attract a diverse range of investors, both domestic and international, to Ghana's capital market. Green bonds have gained global recognition as investors increasingly seek opportunities that align with environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.

Sales in green bonds grew to $492.30bn in 2023 and are expected to build further momentum in 2024, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. With the implementation of the guidelines, companies in Ghana (small/medium/large) can tap into this growing pool of responsible investors, diversify their investor base and reduce reliance on traditional sources of financing, potentially leading to higher corporate returns.

The issuance of green bonds can enhance Ghana's reputation as a sustainable and responsible investment destination. This improved perception can increase foreign direct investment (FDI) and access to international capital markets on more favourable terms. By demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, Ghana may also attract funding and support from multilateral organisations and development finance institutions.

The guidelines are also expected to drive innovation and entrepreneurship in the green economy. By incentivising companies to invest in environmentally sustainable projects, they can encourage innovation in resource efficiency and climate resilience.

This can create opportunities for businesses to develop and commercialise green technologies, leading to job creation and economic development.

Principles

Adopting green finance principles is not just about promoting sustainability; it's also about enhancing risk management through asset diversification and resilience within Ghana's financial sector.

Financial institutions can more effectively assess and manage risks associated with climate change and environmental degradation by integrating environmental considerations into their credit and investment decisions.

Standard Chartered Bank should be commended for going big on sustainable financing globally, including Ghana. This proactive approach to risk management can help safeguard the stability and long-term sustainability of the financial system, ensuring a secure future for all.

I am very optimistic that the SEC's Green Bond Guidelines represent a significant milestone in Ghana's journey towards sustainable development. It is an essential first step. By promoting green finance and investment, the guidelines can unlock new opportunities for economic growth, attract investment, foster innovation and build resilience within our capital market and the more extensive financial system.

As we embrace the transition to a low-carbon economy, implementing the guidelines will play a crucial role in shaping the future of the country's capital market and economy.

The writer is a sustainable finance enthusiast.
E-mail: [email protected]

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