Mainstreaming Gender in Sustainable Bonds

Achieving gender equality is essential for a prosperous and sustainable world, as it affects all aspects of sustainable development. The most pressing environmental and social challenges of our time impact women disproportionately. For example, women are particularly vulnerable to climate change, as it can worsen structural gender-based inequalities and further increase existing gender disparities. At the same time, dedicated gender-focused financing has been limited to date. Only USD 17 billion in assets are in gender-labelled financial products globally, which is a fraction of the global sustainable investment universe of over USD 40 trillion.  

Our proposition to significantly scale up gender-smart financing is through mainstreaming gender considerations in all-new sustainable bond issues, including green, sustainability, social, and sustainability-linked bonds. This represents a significant opportunity for advancing gender equality. Total new issuance of sustainable bonds was worth USD 532.3 billion globally in 2020, which is almost 70 times the size of all outstanding gender-lens investments today across asset classes.  

IISD published three reports on this topic:  

  • Sustainable Bonds: Integrating gender considerations alongside sustainability objectives – This report presents a list of green and sustainability-linked bonds with a gender component while focusing on other sustainability objectives.
  • Integrating Gender in Sustainability-Linked Bonds: Innovations in multi-KPI sustainability-linked structures – This report discusses the need for sustainability-linked bonds to have an additional gender key performance indicator (KPI) alongside their main sustainability KPIs. It also provides recommendations on how the “trigger event” (when the financial characteristics of the bond are changed) should be determined in the case of multi-KPI sustainability-linked bonds.
  • Integrating Gender Considerations in Green Bonds – This report provides detailed guidance on how gender considerations could be integrated into a green bond framework.

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