12 November 2020

ESG in Fixed Income Europe 2020 conference: Day one round up

Day one of Environmental Finance's ESG in Fixed Income Europe 2020 virtual conference came to a close after a packed day of panels, speed networking sessions, and discussion groups.

The annual conference is being held virtually this year and attracted over 600 delegates on its first day.

Quotes from day one:

Isabelle Laurent, deputy treasurer and head of funding at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD): “I would be very resistant to see a separate transition bond sector of the market that's not a green bond. We're talking about the transition to the Paris Agreement goals, not transition in the abstract.”

Ben Caldecott, director of Oxford University’s Sustainable Finance Programme: “Sustainability-linked bonds, and indeed sustainability-linked loans, are a really significant development for the future of sustainable finance, and are much more powerful and important than most of the green ‘use of proceeds’ stuff out there in the market.

Alexandre Vincent, manager, green bond unit of Agence France Trésor: “As a sovereign issue, some of our eligible expenditure is rather unusual…there is not necessarily readily available metrics to assess the environmental impact.”

Highlights of the first day included a lively debate on the use of proceeds model adopted by most green bonds. It was suggested by 2 Degrees Investing Initiative’s Jakob Thomae that the model is susceptible to ‘greenwashing’. In response, Zurich’s Johanna Koeb said it is the duty of investors to make up their minds about the credibility of the issue.


The subject of greenwashing was also raised on a panel that discussed the role of climate transition finance. The panel heard from Jupiter Asset Management’s Rhys Petheram that the ‘transition bond’ label does not go beyond what should be expected as a matter of course in the green bond market. However, Axa Investment Managers’ Yo Takatsuki said transition bonds help investors better understand company transition strategies in a way that green bonds often do not.

After the panel, Sergio Molisani, finance director at transition bond issuer SNAM, said: “[A] transition bond is the most obvious way to align our financial structure with the overall corporate strategy based on the key role of green gases and existing infrastructures to facilitate the transition towards a low carbon economy.

The other hot topic of the day was the EU taxonomy of sustainable activities, which was described as a “powerful tool” for impact reporting, although concerns were raised regarding the available data needed to report in alignment with it.

The panels from today are available on the events platform for on-demand replay.

More information about the event and how to attend is available here.

Day two will kick off on November 13th at 10:30am GMT.

What to look out for on day two

10.30 Keynote address:

  • Broadening the uptake of ESG in the fixed income markets and the role green, social and sustainability bonds play

Hiro Mizuno, Special Advisor, Green Innovation & Finance, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), former Executive Management Director and CIO, GPIF

10.50-14:40 Panel discussions and presentations on:

  • Social bonds and institutional investors’ response to Covid-19
  • ESG ratings for fixed income
  • Sovereign debt strategies
  • The EU Sustainable Finance Action Plan
  • The EU's green bond standard

14:55-15:45 Live discussion groups:

Participate in discussion groups via group video call with up to 20 individuals. Share experiences, learn, and connect with each other. Sessions are run twice for 25 minutes each

  • ESG ratings ratings and fixed income - led by Sustainalytics
  • Sovereign and corporate engagement - led by PRI
  • International harmonisation of standards – led by Moody's
  • EU taxonomy - led by Deutsche Bank
  • EU green bond standards - led by BNP Paribas
  • ESG and Covid: How are institutional investors responding? Led by State Street Global Advisors
  • Sustainable bonds issuance roadmaps – easing and scaling up the process for issuers - led by EIB

Please contact events@fieldgibsonmedia.com to choose your group.