Indian Agricultural Firms To Issue Green Bonds to Finance Resilience Projects, Attracting Private Sector Interest
Recent efforts by the Climate Bonds Initiative with World Resources Institute are likely to mobilize climate resilience finance for India’s agricultural sector, marking an innovative leap forward for financing resilience commercially.
Following our outreach and research, which included publications like “Realigning capital market access to scale up climate-resilient agriculture in post-Covid India,” “India: Agricultural resilience in the face of continuing climate impacts” and “Adaptability and innovation key to scaling up Indian AgTech start-ups,” five organizations have confirmed their intent to issue “resilience bonds,” with the adaptation value of the projects involved in line with the Climate Resilience Principles.
Three in five Indians work in the agricultural sector, which must contend with climate impacts such as rising temperatures, water stress, and threats to natural and coastal ecosystems.
Climate adaptation is critical for protecting world’s most vulnerable communities from escalating climate impacts. Despite this urgent need, climate adaptation currently constitutes less than a fifth of total finance supporting climate action. This is a missed opportunity: The Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) estimates that investing $1.8 trillion globally into climate resilience from 2020 to 2030 could produce $7.1 trillion in total benefits, nearly a four-to-one return.
Private sector investment is critical to closing this adaptation finance gap. So far, however, only about $500 million (1.6%) of adaptation finance comes from private sources. Our efforts suggest inroads on this front.
Finding Resilience Projects to Fund
To unlock new sources of finance, we formed and convened an advisory group with experience in agriculture and economics to identify entities that might be interested in financing resilience interventions. These possibly-interested financing entities included governments, but also financial institutions funding climate-resilient agriculture, companies committed to buying sustainably grown produce, and manufacturers making products that farmers might use to increase resilience (for example, organic plant growth stimulants).
Throughout, we drew on the guidance we published in the Climate Resilience Principles. The principles “provide high-level guidance for both bond issuers and investors seeking to determine when projects and assets are compatible with a climate resilient economy.” We used them to ascertain which kinds of projects in agriculture would qualify as compatible with a climate resilient economy.
We found that while large financial institutions were waiting for the market to mature, mission-driven or values-based financial institutions were up to the challenge. A credit guarantee offered by Rabo Foundation and USAID played a role in financial institutions’ willingness to make loans within the climate-resilient agriculture value chain. The credit guarantee enticed the financial institutions to provide loans for activities they would otherwise have found too new and therefore risky. In addition to the financial institutions, large corporate buyers of sustainable produce and manufacturers of organic compost and fertilizer have also shown an inclination to issue bonds labelled as resilience.
Following our outreach, five institutions (listed below) confirmed their intent to issue climate resilience bonds. These institutions would use the proceeds of these bonds to support activities related to climate resilience in agriculture, such as more efficient irrigation systems designed to withstand longer drought periods, or information technology that can provide up-to-date weather information and advisory services to small-scale farmers. Bond proceeds could also be used to transition of farmers to entirely new crops better suited for predicted future weather patterns. Some will invest in the companies providing resilience solutions, while some might lend directly to farmers.
|Potential Issuer||Type of Issuer||Potential Use of Proceeds|
|Grameen Impact Investments||Non-banking financial institution||Agriculture, Sustainable Livelihoods, WASH|
|Caspian Debt||Non-banking financial institution||Food and Agriculture|
|Collectives for Integrated Livelihood Initiatives (CInI), and Associate Organization of Tata Trusts||Non-financial
|Agriculture, Irrigation, Animal Husbandry, Non-timber Forest Products, Community Empowerment|
|Sammunati Finance||Non-banking financial institution||Agriculture|
|Ananya Finance for Inclusive Growth Pvt. Ltd||Non-banking financial institution||Agriculture and Livelihoods|
Also in July, Sammunati Finance issued a multi-million dollar bond in local currency equivalent that will be fully allocated toward climate-smart agriculture, invested solely by Symbiotics. While not formally labeled as “resilience” debt, this issuance surely is also a step in that direction.
The next steps toward finalizing the bond issuance will be driven by several factors. These include the funding plan and building up an applicable portfolio to be re-financed by the bond, as well as the conclusion of negotiations with investors that would buy the bond. We are working towards finalizing these elements.
Toward a Resilient Future
Green bond markets have already shown that it is possible to move private capital at scale for climate causes. Until now, however, most of the capital has been mobilized for assets related to mitigation of greenhouse gases.
This ongoing work demonstrates that it is possible to finance some aspects of resilience commercially. Increasing awareness among bankers, dealmakers, development banks and other impact investors will be necessary to catalyze the markets and create demand, as was the case for the mitigation-oriented green bond market.