Initiative of the year: HLEG

Channels: Green Bonds

Companies: HLEG, Axa, E3G

People: Christian Thimann, Ingrid Holmes

The final report of the European Commission's High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (HLEG) made some influential recommendations for the green bond market.

The 100-page manifesto paves the way for hard-wiring environmental, social and governance (ESG), and broader sustainability concerns into the financial system, and its recommendations feature prominently in the Commission's recent Action Plan on Sustainable Finance.

HLEG was established by the European Commission in 2016 and is chaired by Christian Thimann, group head of regulation, sustainability and insurance foresight at French insurance group Axa.

Its report, published in January 2018, covered a wide range of issues including a call for the development of green bond standards to help the European green bond market grow.

Its recommendation was adopted by the European Commission, which pledged to develop such standards by the third quarter of 2019, as part of its action plan.

An expert group will be established in May, while the Commission plans to adopt a legislative proposal on the content of the prospectus for green bond issues in the second quarter of 2019.

A judge said: "The HLEG will take green bonds to the next level. We believe the requirement they have in the HLEG report will create a taxonomy around the whole green bond market.

"It's an excellent initiative overall. However, value for the green bond market still needs to be proven, as the green bond standard depends heavily on implementation measures."

Ingrid Holmes, a former director at climate change think tank E3G and a member of HLEG, said: "HLEG's report sets out a bold blueprint for repurposing the financial system to work for the good of people and planet."