In November 2017, the Fijian government successfully issued a sovereign green bond and raised Fijian dollars (FJD) 100 million (~USD 50 million; long-term average conversion rate: 1 USD = 2 FJD) to help finance its transition towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy. Green bonds are fixed income financial instruments for raising capital from investors through the debt market. The bond issuer raises a fixed amount of capital from investors over a set period of time (i.e. the ‘maturity’) and repays the capital as well as an agreed amount of interest when the bond matures. A green bond is different from a regular bond in that it is being ‘labelled’. That means that it is designated as ‘green’ by the issuer or another entity, with a commitment to use the proceeds of the green bond in a transparent manner and solely finance ‘green’ projects, assets or business activities with an environmental benefit (OECD, 2015, p.5). Fiji became the first developing country to use this innovative financial instrument. In April 2018, the Fiji Sovereign Green Bond (FSGB) was successfully listed on the London Stock Exchange International Securities Market, which enabled the FSGB to reach broader investor segments.
For the bond’s issuance, Fiji developed a Green Bond Framework through a transparent process with sound plans for strengthening the country’s climate actions and in strong alignment with the International Capital Market Association’s (ICMA) Green Bond Principles. These principles were developed by a group of investment and multilateral banks, including the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and are voluntary guidelines for a broad market use. To institute credibility, the Fijian government also engaged a second opinion provider, Sustainalytics, to review and verify the green and sustainable aspects of the framework. Following Sustainalytics’ analysis, the framework was revised and further strengthened. Fiji’s Green Bond Framework (FGBF) targets climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable land use and biodiversity protection and, in addition, helps achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
There is an increasing need for innovative financing options that have minimum implications for fiscal stability for developing economies and that enable them to efficiently mobilise private, bilateral and multilateral financing. As a developing country vulnerable to climate impacts, it was imperative for Fiji to balance its developmental aspirations and climate goals. Fiji saw the global green bond market as an opportunity to address capacity and resource gaps in meeting these goals, and tapped into its potential. With high-level political endorsement, the FSGB allowed Fiji to reach an untapped international investor base and also enabled it to be ambitious in planning its future climate actions. By encouraging domestic investors to help finance green projects through this bond, the Fijian government was able to gain significant subscriptions. The robust and transparent process set by Fiji is likely to pioneer and establish a roadmap for other developing countries to follow in using innovative financial instruments for financing their climate needs and actions.