South Africa Launches Technical Handbook on Sustainable Municipal Bonds

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) and the National Treasury (NT) are pleased to launch a Technical Handbook on the Issuance of Sustainable Municipal Bonds in South Africa. “The application of sustainable bonds may be considered as being an essential financing mechanism for investing in climate mitigation and adaptation projects, and more specifically for Sub-Saharan Africa, being one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change, and reiterated by the International Monetary Fund,” said Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms. Barbara Creecy.

The Technical Handbook was developed in partnership with the UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Action and the International Climate Initiative (IKI) project “Green Economy Transformation” which is implemented by the German Technical Agency (GIZ) and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on behalf of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) and the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE).

Sustainable Bonds are bonds where the use of the proceeds from the financial instrument has a positive environmental and social impact or meets certain green and social key performance indicators. The Handbook aims to help South African Municipalities to determine whether a Sustainable Bond is a suitable tool for financing their climate change and environmental projects. It provides decision-making guidance and outlines a step-by-step process of preparing for, issuing, and managing a Sustainable Bond.

Rising temperatures, rising sea levels, and worsening erratic rainfall are increasing the frequency and intensity of natural disasters and disrupting agricultural production, damaging infrastructure, and threatening the sustainability of urban areas.  According to the United Nations (UN), Economic Commission for Africa, and the International Monetary Fund, up to $50 billion a year in incremental finance is needed for climate adaptation.

There has been a huge growth in the past decade with the global market of Green and Sustainability bond issuances in 2021, surpassing €875 billion in all currencies where the use of proceeds was linked to green, social, sustainable, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) frameworks. In 2022, this market is set to surpass the €1 trillion mark. However, sub-Saharan Africa is not participating in these trends at any level of global significance, and while South Africa dominates private and public sector issuances (about two-thirds of the market) only 0.4% of global issuance are African (even if one includes North Africa).

“Much interest in, and commitment to, strengthening the competencies of key actors in public institutions for a coherent implementation of SDGs and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) within the context of the green economy, has been shown by South Africa,” said Minister Creecy.

This capacity includes the development of a Technical Handbook on the Issuance of Sustainable Municipal Bonds in South Africa. The Handbook sets out detailed, accessible, practical steps involved in Sustainable Bonds issuance and discusses the associated tasks and activities for South African municipalities. It enables them to have a view of the comprehensive process for the preparation, issuance, and management of a Sustainable Bond. Furthermore, it ultimately looks to explore key elements of the instrument and provide balanced information so that South African Municipalities (and others) can determine whether a Sustainable Bond is a suitable tool for their organization.

The Handbook has been tested in two municipalities including the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, and eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality. The trial process included an in-depth, demand-driven, and practical capacity building in the two principal municipalities to advance their readiness for green bond issuance and support decision-making concerning a prospective bond. The next steps will include disseminating the handbook at the local and national levels in South Africa as well as at the international level to enhance sharing of lessons learned and best experiences.


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Written by Mercy ANURIKA

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