It’s not just about the environment

When I ask my students what comes to mind first in sustainable finance, the answer invariably is fighting climate change. And whilst this is the challenge of a decade, if not a generation, sustainability means much more. Looking through the 17 development goals opens up a range of issues with global importance as well – including gender equality and the eradication of poverty to sustainable cities…

The point is that sustainability, and ESG, often used interchangeably, also covers social issues. And these also require equal (?) attention in international finance. Although the number of green bonds outshines the social impact bonds, or for instance ‘orange’ or gender bonds or micro-finance deals by a more than significant margin.

“Social equality is the fabric of civil society”

In choosing their strategy, companies, banks and funds often focus on SDGs 7, affordable and clean energy, and 13, climate action. It’s rightly in front of us, and requires our immediate action. But then which entities choose SDG 5, gender equality, or 10, reduced inequalities, and have set their measurable tasks? Or any other SDG? So let’s hear it for those who use finance to further other SDGs as well, for instance using sustainability-linked loans or bonds, thinking outside the box. Social equality is the fabric of civil society.



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