A sustainability bond is an unsecured senior bond transaction with the same financial and contractual terms as any other unsecured senior transaction. When issuing a sustainability bond, the issuer makes the following additional commitments:
- allocate the bonds proceeds to green and/or social projects or expenditures, defined according to a predefined set of eligibility criteria
- report to investors on the projects financed by the proceeds of the sustainability bonds
Sustainability bonds are generally considered to be a very interesting instrument to attract more investments for sustainable projects.
Depending on the market conditions and Flanders’ financing needs, Flanders has the intention to become a frequent issuer on the sustainability bond market. Since 2018, Flanders has issued a sustainability bond each year.
By issuing sustainability bonds, Flanders aims to achieve the following main objectives:
- Support Flanders’ sustainability strategy and channel funding for Flemish expenditures that are directly related to the following pillars: circular economy, smart living, lifelong learning and energy.
- Create a closer relationship with socially responsible investors (SRI) on a global basis. Assets under management of socially responsible investors are growing and large portfolios are now managed with attention to environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects. Flanders’ ultimate goal is to diversify its investor base.
- Support the development of the green bond market in Belgium and contribute to the development of a liquid and efficient market for sustainability bonds that should facilitate the financing of sustainable development.
The selected categories have both green and social objectives. Since it is often difficult to distinguish between the social and green aspects of the categories, Flanders decided to issue sustainability bonds instead of green or social bonds.
Flanders’ sustainability bonds support the development of the sustainability bond market in Belgium.
These bonds also contribute to further increase the environmental and social awareness of the public in the Flemish Region and in Belgium.
Flanders has actively integrated sustainability into its development plans.
Vision 2050 is the long-term strategic outlook of Flanders. It presents Flanders as an inclusive, open, resilient and internationally connected region that creates prosperity and well-being for its citizens in a smart, innovative and sustainable manner.
Vizier 2030 is the Flemish translation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. It focuses on 53 sustainability objectives that Flanders wants to achieve by 2030.
These objectives are an important part of the operationalisation of the Flemish Sustainable Development Strategy and an intermediate step in the realisation of the long-term strategy for Flanders: Vision 2050
Flanders’ Sustainability Bond Framework includes 4 eligible categories for the use of proceeds:
If financing needs arise for other activities, which are defined as green or social activities in the Green and Social Bond Principles, the framework will be updated accordingly.
A dedicated sustainability bond committee selects the eligible expenditures and approves the methodology used for the allocation.
The committee currently includes members of the Flemish Social Housing Company (VMSW), the Agency for School Infrastructure (AGION), the Flemish Energy Agency (VEA), Circular Flanders and the Department of Finance and Budget.
The composition of the committee may change for future issues.
Flanders publishes an annual report on its website that details the allocation and impact of the sustainability bond net proceeds.
The reporting provides:
- the total amount of expenditures per eligible category
- the share of allocated amount vs. total amount
- the amount of unallocated proceeds
- the impact of social indicators (e.g. number of households or students supported)
- the impact of green indicators (e.g. avoided CO2 emissions)
Want to know more about our sustainability reporting? Read all about it in our most recent report.
Flanders appointed Sustainalytics to provide a Second Party Opinion (SPO).
Sustainalytics declares Flanders’ Sustainability Bond Framework credible and impactful. The framework aligns with the Sustainability Bond Guidelines 2018.