Guterres urges public development banks to ‘green the balance sheet’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged public development banks to do more to “green the balance sheet”.

In a video message to the 2021 Finance in Common Summit in Rome on Wednesday, he said: “You spearheaded the green bond market – now is the time to do more to green the balance sheet,” Xinhua news agency reported.

“With your reach from the global to the local, public development banks are critical partners as we seek to recover better from the pandemic,” said Guterres.

He underscored that the joint declaration of all public development banks at the first Finance in Common Summit last year was a strong signal of intent.

“Today, I call on you to turn that vision into concrete and time-bound targets and plans to align your operations and policies with the 2030 Agenda and keep the 1.5 Celsius degrees goal within reach.

“We must fully integrate a forward-looking and preventative lens in our work and bolster resilience to future shocks.

“We must reach universal social protection by 2030; ensure macroeconomic and labour policies work in tandem to support a just transition; and heavily invest in job creation and re-skilling programmes that expand opportunities for women and better prepare young people,” said the Secretary-General.

Guterres noted that their support for the Global Accelerator for Jobs and Social Protection is essential to help ensure a more even recovery – and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Your financing decisions can either entrench developing countries in high emission, fossil fuel-dependent development pathways with a high risk of locking in stranded assets or facilitate the transition to renewable economies.

“This is especially true in a Covid-19 recovery context, where developing countries are battling the triple crises of pandemic, debt and climate.

“This means phasing out all fossil fuel finance starting immediately with coal and redirecting these investments to renewable energy to ensure universal access to electricity,” said the secretary-general, urging them to scale up funding to support adaptation and build resilience to at least 50 percent of total public climate finance.

“I also urge you to make climate risk disclosures mandatory – in line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Finance Disclosures.

“We need a stronger, more integrated and networked multilateral system – with public development banks as central players,” Guterres added.