11 April 2017
The Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research Oslo (Cicero) hailed its strong science-based and academic background as it was voted External Review Provider of the Year.
"We're the only academic provider of second opinions and we have no commercial investment in this, as we're a non-profit organisation and I think that gives us an aspect of trustworthiness, as we're directly linked with the climate science and we don't have a commercial angle," says Christa Clapp, senior advisor on climate finance at Cicero.
This sentiment was reflected by the judges, who praised Cicero's academic and scientific approach.
The Norwegian non-profit also points to its 'shades of green' methodology, which it developed in 2015, for its success. Clapp argues using a scale for assessing green bonds provides a more comprehensive insight for investors.
"This continuum allows investors to compare across different green bonds and… to quantify those shades, if they choose to do so," explains Clapp.
It was the biggest second opinion provider, with green bonds assessed in 2016 having a value of $14.1 billion across 56 issues. Cicero earlier this year released its Shades of Climate Risk Report - Categorising climate risk for investors to try to outline what specific financial risks different sectors in different parts of the globe face from climate change.
"I think we've taken the first step in this direction of improving financial information on climate," says Clapp. Having published this report and with the Financial Stability Board's (FSB) Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) being finalised by June this year, Cicero will now look to incorporate both into its green bond assessments.
One major development of the year, with regard to external assessment of green bonds, was the entrance of ratings agencies into the green bond assessment market, which Clapp welcomes cautiously.
"I think it's good they're involved. I think there's probably a lot more work to do on transparency… It is a fairly opaque process and I think there's more room for collaboration with the science community," she adds.