September 23, 2021

LAC forest

Above: Parque Nacional Natural Farallones de Cali, Colombia. (Image credit: World Resources Institute. License CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

On September 23, 2021, the HP5 workstream hosted a Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) focused workshop on ‘Developing Subnational Green Bond Markets in Emerging Economies: Challenges and Solutions for Ministries of Finance.’ The workshop was organized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). This is the first region-focused workshop the Coalition has organized and others will soon follow.

Across emerging and developed countries, subnational infrastructure presents a great opportunity for the creation of green investment pipelines at the municipal, provincial, and state levels – despite such potential, subnational entities still struggle to access finance from capital markets. While the identification of portfolios of green projects does not seem to be a barrier, inability to access capital markets is a key limitation to subnational entities’ infrastructure financing potential. The LAC region is no exception in this case, with only a few green bonds issued by cities and sub-national governments – by Mexico City and Argentinian provinces. These issuances were well received by investors, but the challenges to replicating this capital raising are substantial.

This workshop provided an opportunity to discuss these challenges in emerging economies and explore a range of potential solutions. Germán Romero (Climate Change Advisor, Ministry of Finance, Colombia) opened the workshop by sharing the Colombian experience and instruments and tools his Ministry has used to help develop capital markets for subnational governments. Next, Gianleo Frisari (Senior Climate Change Economist, IDB) presented on green finance possibilities for cities and provinces. His presented was followed by Axel Radics (Lead Fiscal and Municipal Management Specialist, IDB) who presented the key findings from a forthcoming IDB paper he co-authored, ‘Developing conditions for sub-national capital markets in Latin America: a comparative study.’ His co-author Christine Martell (Professor, University of Colorado, Denver) then presented on the US experience, where municipal green bonds are a proven source of financing for local governments – drawing on some of the findings in her recently published a book, Information Resolution and Subnational Capital MarketsSteven Rubinyi (Team Lead, City Creditworthiness Initiative, World Bank) gave the final presentation on the offerings and experience of the World Bank City Creditworthiness Initiative, including a case study on the South African approach to developing subnational capital markets.

Participants then engaged in a roundtable discussion moderated by Isabelle Braly (Senior Financial Specialist, IDB). Pekka Moren (Coalition Sherpa Co-Chair, Finland) closed the workshop by acknowledging the importance of this topic for the Coalition and the potential for countries to share experiences and best practices. He emphasized the importance of 1) ensuring creditworthiness of issuers; 2) the role of MoFs in developing green capital markets; 3) the role of IFIs and MDBs in supporting these efforts locally; and 4) the importance of the Coalition in supporting the build-up of expertise in Member countries, including through workshops like this one and enhanced training efforts. The HP5 workstream has agreed to include a note on this topic in its 2022 work program to offer Members a synthesis of how to approach sub-national capital market development for green projects.