Financing a Sustainable Future: High-Level Working Group on Green & Sustainability Sukuk releases its second report at COP28

  • Global Green and Sustainability Sukuk issuance exceeded $10 billion by the third quarter of 2023 compared to $9.4 billion in 2022, according to London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) data.
  • Indonesia, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia have raised 77% of the total value of cumulative issuance as of Q3 2023
  • ESG sukuk issuance from GCC-based entities was $6.1 billion during the first nine months of 2023, nearly double their 2022 full-year level. UAE-based corporates issued a record $3.9 billion worth of these sukuk, accounting for 38% of the global total, making the UAE the largest issuance base for ESG sukuk to date in 2023.
  • Corporate issuers have become increasingly active in the green and sustainability sukuk market, accounting for 65% of issuance by the third quarter of 2023, an increase from 41% in 2022.

Global Green and Sustainability Sukuk issuance exceeded $10 billion by the third quarter of 2023, according to LSEG data published today by the High-Level Working Group (HLWG) on Green and Sustainability Sukuk.

As part of the Global Ethical Finance Initiative’s (GEFI) COP28 Unlocking Islamic Finance Summit held at the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), the HLWG published its second report entitled “Financing a Sustainable Future: Green and Sustainability Update Report 2023”. The event, attended by over 300 practitioners, explored how Islamic finance and sustainability principles can be aligned through new standards and improved practices in the finance industry.

The HLWG was launched in November 2021 at COP26 by the Islamic Finance Council UK, HM Treasury, the Ministry of Finance in the Republic of Indonesia, Islamic Development Bank, LSEG, and GEFI.

The report is a follow-up to Financing a Sustainable Future: Green and Sustainability Report 2022, showcased at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, that provided an introduction to, and overview of, the green and sustainability sukuk market. This year’s updated report includes the latest market figures and details of some recent flagship issuances.

The HLWG notes its support for the announcement by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB, the Bank), the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) and LSEG on the sidelines of the COP28 in Dubai to develop a practitioners’ guide on the issuance of Sukuk in line with the Green Bond Principles and Sustainability Bond Guidelines as published by ICMA, which was a development suggested in the recommendations of its 2022 report.

The HLWG intends to use the momentum from COP28 to continue to raise awareness and inspire more green and sustainability sukuk issuances to help address climate change.

Omar Shaikh, Advisory Board Member & Director, Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC), commented: “The HLWG continues to affirm that progress can be made with consistent effort no matter how little. The updated report highlights great improvement in the sukuk market. The workplan of the HLWG having been approved, will provide room for more collaborations for the promotion of green and sustainability sukuk.”

Shrey Kohli, Director, Head of Debt Capital Markets, London Stock Exchange, and Chair of the HLWG on Green and Sustainability Sukuk, said: “With over $10 billion raised in the first three quarters, 2023 marks a record year for Green and Sustainability Sukuk. At COP28, we have seen the recommendations of the HLWG resonate and drive collaboration within the industry. We will continue to work with our partners to enhance the awareness of Sukuk as an asset class and accelerate progress towards climate and sustainability goals worldwide.”

Mustafa Adil, Head of Islamic Finance, Data & Analytics, LSEG, said: “Embracing sustainability in Islamic finance isn’t just a choice; it’s a responsibility. By aligning our principles with the global green movement, we can create a more equitable and environmentally conscious financial future for all.”

Read the report:

About the HLWG

The HLWG is a focused, high-profile group of global stakeholders that is led by its founding partners. Shrey Kohli, Head of Debt Capital Markets at the London Stock Exchange, is the current Chair. It has a 3-year initiative that directs investment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the world’s regions in most need. It is currently in its second year. The UKIFC, together with the Global Ethical Finance Initiative, acts as its Secretariat. The HLWG focuses on the following objectives:

  • Ensuring green and sustainability sukuk is highlighted at annual COP summits up to and including 2023 to increase awareness of the instrument and proactively encourage the issuance of such sukuk by all market stakeholders (corporates, multilaterals, and sovereigns) as a key Islamic financing tool.
  • Assist and enhance existing established global standard-setting bodies and regulatory initiatives run by the UN, IsDB, and others (e.g. PRI, NGFS, Transform, PRB) to encourage better alignment of the Islamic finance industry with the global green and sustainability financial movement.
  • Identify and address specific existing challenges for green and sustainability sukuk on the supply and demand side.

Read more about the HLWG here: https://ukifc.com/sdg/green-sukuk

About The Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC)

The Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC) is a specialist, not-for-profit, advisory and developmental body focused on promoting and enhancing the global Islamic and ethical finance industry. It has helped six countries develop enabling regulatory frameworks for Islamic finance, enhancing financial inclusion for over 15 million people, established the award-winning Ethical Finance Round Table series running since 2010, launched the world’s first joint venture between Islamic finance and the Church of Scotland, and delivered development sessions to over 500 Islamic scholars across the globe. In 2020 the UKIFC, alongside the British Government’s Treasury department, established the Islamic Finance and Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) taskforce, which will be anchored in London.

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW PLEASE CONTACT:

Chris Tait – chris@ukifc.com / +44(0)7931 103573


Collaboration with ICMA announced

The HLWG, represented by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), announced at COP28 in Dubai, a collaboration with ICMA to produce green sukuk guidance in line with the Green Bond Principles. The pioneering initiative will support the growth of the green sukuk market for mobilizing climate finance from global capital markets.

IsDB, LSEG and ICMA will work together to develop the guidance for global capital market practitioners. It is expected that the guidance will enhance investor awareness of the sukuk asset class.

Learn more about the High-Level Working Group

New Tayyib Initiative Launches to Unlock $500 billion Opportunity for Islamic Finance

Dubai, 5th December 2023.

  1. The Islamic finance sector is valued at over $4 trillion and spans prominent financial hubs across the globe, including London, Luxembourg, Dublin, Istanbul, Dubai, Bahrain, and Kuala Lumpur
  2. Responsible investing is rapidly growing and is projected to surpass $30 trillion by 2026
  3. With over 1.6bn Muslims globally ensuring all voices are included in addressing the “S” in ESG enables a more considered and relevant solutions
  4. Initiative builds on the Shariah-compliant model of Islamic finance, to develop a Tayibb-inspired approach with enhanced ESG and sustainability considerations
  5. Tayyib Secretariat, involving global Islamic finance experts, will develop Tayyib-inspired investment principles, open up new markets and inspire new investment products
  6. Tayyib Secretariat will help align Islamic finance with conventional ESG and impact investing, providing a voice for Islamic for Islamic finance in the mainstream sustainable finance sector

A pioneering finance initiative inspired by the Islamic concept of “Tayyib” (pure, wholesome, and impactful) has launched today at GEFI’s Unlocking Islamic Finance Summit, hosted by the Dubai International Finance Centre.

The announcement of the Tayyib Secretariat comes at a time when the eyes of the world are focused on Dubai as it hosts the UN’s 28th annual climate summit, COP28. The initiative, an output of a 1-year market assessment commissioned by UKIFC and GEFI last year, is seeking to build on the Shariah-compliant model of Islamic finance, to develop a Tayibb-inspired approach with enhanced ESG and sustainability considerations.

Using the principles within the Maqasid al-Shariah (objectives of Shariah) and Qawaid (Islamic legal maxims), the Tayyib approach has the potential to offer a new best practice approach to responsible investing.

The Tayyib Secretariat is a global collaboration involving Malaysia, UAE and the UK, UAE. The Secretariat will be co-managed by the UKIFC and ISRA Consulting with DIFC the Host Financial Centre and PwC Dubai Technical Partner. An Advisory Panel (representing shariah scholars, multilateral bodies, and select industry developmental stakeholders) and an Industry Consultation Group will be established to support the Secretariat.

The Tayyib Secretariat will be focusing on:

  1. Developing a set of investment principles inspired by Tayyib across select asset classes
  2. Supporting Islamic asset managers to access global ESG liquidity pools
  3. Inspiring new innovative ESG linked, Tayyib-inspired products
  4. Aligning Islamic finance with conventional ESG and impact investing
  5. Providing a voice for Islamic for Islamic finance in the mainstream sustainable finance sector

At the launch, GEFI Global Steering Group Chair Dame Susan Rice said: “With global growth in sustainable finance, it is an opportune moment for the Tayyib concept and the beautiful principles it encapsulates to come to the fore in Islamic finance.”

Leading global scholar Dr. Mohamed Ali Elgari added “I have no doubts that Islamic principles can have a positive impact in the global transition to a more sustainable and equitable economy. I urge the Islamic finance industry to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead and to work collaboratively in the ESG finance space to create a more sustainable future for all.


Investing in SDG-Aligned Products

In our recently published report, Attitudes of banking customers towards the UN SDGs, an impressive 87% of respondents stated that they would be willing to pay extra for SDG-aligned products. For a product to be SDG aligned, it must be connected to one or more of the existing 169 targets under the 17 SDGs. What exactly does that mean?

An SDG-aligned banking product is similar to a sustainability or green product. It can be a loan, bond, sukuk, or any other sort of financial product. The difference from a traditional product is that these specialty products are designed with a specific goal in mind, usually an environmental or social goal that can be measured. For instance, a green loan that is tied to a particular project may have different repayment amounts for different levels of success, such as cutting emissions from a particular business by 20% or 50%. In this case, the borrower would repay less if they achieved more of an emissions cut.

The findings from Attitudes of Banking Customers Towards the UN SDGs, recently released by GEFI and the UKIFC, found that 80% of Global North respondents and 89% of Global South respondents were willing to pay more for an SDG-aligned financial product. On average, the respondents were willing to pay a premium of up to 4.4%. That’s a significant amount, a clear demonstration that this is becoming more and more important to financial product clients all over the world.

There were variations in feedback that were most evident in age, with the lowest (18-24 year olds) and highest (65+) being willing to pay the lowest premium (3.8% and 2.1%, respectively). This is likely due to differences in awareness. Younger respondents are in the process of learning about financial products and exploring what works best for them, while older respondents may have concerns that impact-oriented investing may not be as effective as traditional investing. In both cases, clear educational tools and resources would be beneficial. Luckily, more and more research is finding that investing from a sustainability-backed approach does well to mitigate risk, tends to be less volatile, and is economically profitable.

When developing these financial products, financial institutions have an opportunity to impact genuine positive change. The OECD’s Framework for SDG Aligned Finance presented this beautifully with two primary objectives:

  1. Equality: resources should be mobilised to leave no one behind and fill the SDG financing gaps, and
  2. Sustainability: resources should accelerate progress across the SDGs.

This is pivotal as it emphasizes the need to make socially conscious decisions while addressing the SDGs, to ensure that investments in one area are not detrimental to another. For instance, suddenly shutting down all mining operations may be better for the environment, but it could leave the local population struggling if there is no other industry around. SDG financial products must be carefully designed to maximize positive benefit while mitigating the negative.

With a strong interest in SDG-aligned financial products from consumers and research supporting the economic benefits of such an investment, it is no wonder that impact investing has grown 63% from 2019 to 2021, surpassing $1.2 trillion according to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). Demand is rising for positive investments that are good for people and good for the planet.

The findings from Attitudes of banking customers towards the UN SDGsa joint effort by GEFI and UKIFC, found consistently strong support for financial products that are SDG aligned. These products give banking clients the opportunity to directly support causes they feel strongly about, to invest in their communities, and to see positive returns for socially and environmentally aligned investments. It is empowering for clients, creates opportunities for financial institutions to invest in risk-mitigated, strategic, long-term projects, and fosters a sense of inclusion.


To support this important work, GEFI has designed the SDG Product Platform. Financial products are carefully assessed to ensure that they meet the goals they set for themselves, and GEFI works closely with the asset manager to maintain SDG alignment and economic benefit. Learn more about GEFI’s SDG Product Platform here:

SDG FINANCIAL PRODUCTS PLATFORM

Banking Customer Focus on UN SDGs

In the recently released joint report by the UKIFC and GEFI, banking customers discussed their perceptions regarding the UN and UN SDGs, and revealed where their values lie.

The report, Attitudes of banking customers towards the UN SDGs, took a particularly interesting approach as so often the focus is on how the UN SDGs can be integrated into a financial portfolio. Research is often framed from the perspective of the asset manager, government, or special interest nonprofit. Speaking directly to banking customers in different countries reveals the concerns of everyday people, not just industry experts.

Of the top UN SDGs that banking customers focused on, both the Global North and Global South prioritized Quality Education (Goal 4) (30% and 29%, respectively). There is an awareness of how vital it is, not only for children but for adults, to continue learning and growing as the challenges we face as a planet evolve. This goal spans generations and genders, as it highlights the importance of lifelong and gender-inclusive learning.

The top priorities for both Global North and Global South were focused around social equity and quality of life. Quality Education sets the foundation for the other goals of Zero Hunger (Goal 2), Gender Equality (Goal 5), Clean Water & Sanitation (Goal 6), and Affordable & Clean Energy (Goal 7).

Interestingly, the UN SDGs with the least amount of awareness for both the Global North and Global South are Life Below Water (Goal 14) and Life on Land (Goal 15), likely because they are broad, far-reaching goals. Both of these goals significantly impact those living in vulnerable areas such as islands or in areas sensitive to climate shifts, but they can come across as abstract concepts for people who don’t experience direct impacts of climate change in their daily lives.

The other SDGs that received the lowest engagement are Responsible Consumption & Production (Goal 12) and Partnerships for the Goals (Goal 17). Given that this survey targeted banking customers, it is likely that those particular goals seem best addressed at an institutional level. In support of this, it is worth noting that survey participants were strongly in favour of their banking institutions offering sustainability products.

The Global North and Global South agreed that Reducing Poverty and Hunger was the most important UN SDG to consumers. Of the global population, 8.9% are undernourished and roughly 8% are living in extreme poverty, meaning that these issues impact over 650 million people. With increasing environmental risks from climate change, these percentages are likely to increase as a direct result of droughts, shifting weather patterns, and planetary stress.

Recent publications from ESG Today to Reuters have stressed the importance of ‘zooming out’ to see the bigger picture beyond environmental metrics. It is important to remember that while we focus on particular issues, all of the UN SDGs are connected in one way or another. In cleaning up the oceans (Goal 6), we can create quality employment (Goals 7, 8, and 9), healthier communities (Goals 3, 11, and 12), and encourage global collaborations to unite and strengthen our sense of global community (Goals 16 and 17).


Financing a Sustainable Future: High-Level Working Group on Green & Sustainability Sukuk releases its first report

  Press Release 24 Oct 2022

  • Global Green Sukuk issuance of $4.4 billion in H1 2022
  • Indonesia and the GCC are leading jurisdictions for green and sustainability sukuk, together making up 53% of total issuance.
  • The report recommends promoting common regional and international standards, developing capacity with issuers, and expanding the wider ecosystem.

Global green and sustainability sukuk issuance totalled $4.4 billion during the first half of 2022, following a record annual issuance of $6.1 billion in 2021, according to data published by the High-Level Working Group (HLWG) on Green and Sustainable Sukuk. HLWG has issued its first report titled “Financing a Sustainable Future“.

The HLWG was launched in November 2021, during COP26, by founding members Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC), HM Treasury, Ministry of Finance in the Republic of Indonesia, Islamic Development Bank, LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group), and Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI.)

The report, produced in partnership with UKIFC, GEFI, and LSEG, provides insights on the green and sustainability sukuk market, discusses key recent transactions and regulatory developments, and provides views from key industry stakeholders conducted through discussions of the HLWG and an industry survey. Featuring a roadmap outlining key recommendations to facilitate the development of the green and sustainability sukuk ecosystem globally, key findings include:

  • Indonesia and the GCC are the leading jurisdictions for green and sustainability sukuk, together making up 53% of total issuance.
  • Sukuk have been the main driver of ESG debt issuance in the GCC, making up 80% of green and sustainability bonds sold by GCC-based issuers during the first half of 2022.
  • On average, 82% of annual green and sustainability sukuk have been issued in international markets since 2018, reflecting strong demand from overseas investors.
  • On average, green and sustainability sukuk generated order books worth 4.4 times their offering values, compared with 3.3 times for comparably sampled traditional sukuk.
  • The report recommends promoting common regional and international standards, developing capacity with issuers, and expanding the wider ecosystem.

Omar Shaikh, Advisory Board Member & Director, Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC), commented: “We are pleased the HLWG has filed its first report which finds that despite the increase in the issuance of green and sustainability sukuk, there is scope for greater capacity building across issuers, investors and professional services to scale the market to serve the Islamic world.”

Shrey Kohli, Director, Head of Debt Capital Markets, London Stock Exchange, and Chair of the HLWG on Green and Sustainability Sukuk, said: “The growth of green and sustainability sukuk will enable more countries and companies to access finance in a manner consistent with their faith and values. As sukuk are linked to assets that may be eligible for green and social projects, they will become vital tools to fund the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and the just transition to Net-Zero, as has been evidenced by transactions by Working Group members such as the Islamic Development Bank and Etihad Airlines.”

“I sincerely thank all members of the HLWG for their expertise and insights. We look forward to working with the market to implement the recommendations as head towards the next two COPs in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.”

Mustafa Adil, Head of Islamic Finance, Data & Analytics, LSEG, said: “This July marked five years since the first green sukuk was issued, raising $58 million. Green and sustainability sukuk have made great strides during this time, gaining traction across several Islamic capital markets in Southeast Asia, the GCC and Africa, with cumulative total issuance amounting to $21 billion by the first half of 2022.”

“As we approach COP27, it is our aim this report will inform and encourage more countries to adopt green and sustainability sukuk as an innovative approach for financing their SDGs and sustainable development plans.”

LSEG is well placed at the heart of global capital markets to be a strategic enabler of sustainable economic growth. It plays an important role in accelerating the transition to Net Zero and supporting the growth of the green economy. Refinitiv, an LSEG business, provides an Islamic finance database including over 1,500 Islamic financial institutions data covering $4 trillion of Islamic finance assets. The London Stock Exchange’s Sustainable Bond Market (SBM) is home to more than 300 green, social, and sustainability bonds, raising a combined £120 billion. Read the full report here: https://ukifc.com/greensukuk/

– Ends –

 

For further information

LSEG Press Office

Nandeep Roopray (EMEA)

Oliver Mann (EMEA)

Tarek Fleihan (MEA)

newsroom@lseg.com

+44 (0)20 7797 1222

www.lseg.com

 

About LSEG

LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group) is more than a diversified global financial markets infrastructure and data business. We are dedicated, open-access partners with a commitment to excellence in delivering the services our customers expect from us. With extensive experience, deep knowledge and worldwide presence across financial markets, we enable businesses and economies around the world to fund innovation, manage risk and create jobs. It’s how we’ve contributed to supporting the financial stability and growth of communities and economies globally for more than 300 years.

 

Data & Analytics

Our acquisition of Refinitiv means we can provide the breadth and depth of financial data and best-in-class analytics that customers expect – driving innovation and growth across global markets. And our high-performance solutions – from trading, to market surveillance, to wealth solutions and more – help to enhance the performance of our customers. FTSE Russell is a leading global provider of financial indexing, benchmarking and analytic services with more than $16 trillion benchmarked to our indices – and offers an extensive range of data services and research. The combination of Refinitiv and FTSE Russell provides LSEG with leading capabilities in data, analytics, indices and benchmarks.

 

Capital Markets

We offer our customers extensive access to capital markets and liquidity across multiple asset classes. We operate a broad range of international equity, fixed income, exchange-traded funds/exchange traded products and foreign exchange markets. Our Group is home to several capital formation and execution venues: London Stock Exchange, AIM, Turquoise, FXall and Tradeweb (through a majority ownership interest).

 

Post Trade

We support our customers’ clearing and reporting obligations, providing risk, balance sheet and financial resource management solutions, whilst working with our other divisions to extend this support across the value chain.

A leading global clearing house with a strong presence across multiple asset classes, LCH helps financial institutions all over the world use their capital efficiently and manage counterparty risk. We work closely with sell-side clearing members and buy-side clients in conjunction with trading venues globally.

UnaVista, a regulated platform that helps customers meet their reporting compliance obligations and reduce operational and regulatory risk through reporting, reference data and analytics solutions, further complements our Post Trade offering.

Through a comprehensive suite of trusted financial market infrastructure services – and our open-access model – we provide the flexibility, stability and trust that enable our customers to pursue their ambitions with confidence and clarity.

LSEG is headquartered in the United Kingdom, with significant operations in 70 countries across EMEA, North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific. We employ 25,000 people globally, more than half located in Asia Pacific. LSEG’s ticker symbol is LSEG.


'The Future of Green and Sustainable Finance'- UKIFC at Dubai Expo 2020

The UKIFC are thrilled to be delivering a Global Leaders event in partnership with the Global Ethical Finance Initiative, as part of the Scottish Government’s Expo 2020 Dubai Race to Net Zero Day. Taking place in Dubai International Financial Centre, the event will look at future of green and sustainable finance with a particular focus on financing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Speakers include:

  • HE Dr Reza Baqir, Governor, State Bank of Pakistan
  • Christian Gueckel, Chief Risk Officer, Head of Research, Sedco Capital
  • Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, Scottish Government
  • Mustafa Adil, Head of Islamic Finance, Data & Analytics, London Stock Exchange Group
  • Graham Burnside, Senior Advisor, GEFI & Chair, UKIFC
  • Syed Samar Hasnain, Executive Director, State Bank of Pakistan
  • Omar Shaikh, Managing Director, GEFI

Scotland has a unique and strong heritage in ethical finance through the world’s first mutual savings scheme, the world’s first savings bank and indeed the father of modern economics Adam Smith. Smith’s reconciliation between self-interest and innate goodness through his enquiries into moral philosophy and the causes of the wealth of nations created the chassis by which modern markets and economies functions.

With the meteoric rise of ethical/sustainable finance (over $80trn signed up to PRI) once again modern markets face the challenge of reconciling profit and purpose. This event will unpack and explore key thematic in the financial markets in addressing this global trend which aligns with Expo 2020 Dubai’s focus on sustainability and the UN SDGs.

We will also be officially launching our latest report with State Bank of Pakistan (SBP on implementing the SDGs into national economic framework.

There is still time to register to join us here.


UKIFC COP26 sessions available on Efx.Global

The UKIFC was delighted to support the Global Ethical Finance Initiative through their ‘Faith in the SDGs’ programme at COP26  across the 2 weeks of the summit, with a series of public and private meetings. A number of these sessions are now available to watch back on EFX.Global, including the whole of the Faith in the SDGs mini-summit which took place at the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School.

Take me to the Faith in the SDGs mini summit on Efx.Global

Watch all Faith and Finance related content on Ex.Global

Look back at the photos of Faith in the SDGs at COP26


New: COP26 'Faith in the SDGs' photobook released

The UKIFC were honoured to be parth of the programme of activities around Faith in the SDGs at COP26 which took place across the 2 weeks of the summit, with a series of public and private meetings. The activities were held in partnership with The Global Ethical Finance Initiative, FaithInvest, Wahed Invest, Gatehouse Bank and the Church of Scotland.

The private meetings took place at Ross Priory, on the beautiful banks of Loch Lomond, near Glasgow.

You can view all of the photographs here.


Islamic Finance & Faith in the SDGs at COP26

For many, a warming climatic system is expected to impact the availability of necessities like freshwater, food security, and energy, while efforts to address climate change, both through adaptation and mitigation, will similarly inform and shape the global development agenda. The links between climate change and sustainable development are strong. Poor and developing countries, particularly least developed countries, will be among those most adversely affected and least able to cope with the anticipated shocks to their social, economic and natural systems.

As national ministers and heads of state convened in Glasgow, Scotland, to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) the Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) curated a unique programme to focalise this sustainable development challenge through the prism of Islamic finance, a proxy to the global south.

To raise awareness and drive climate action at COP26 GEFI, a non-profit dedicated to enabling finance to deliver positive change and help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ran a Path to COP26 campaign. The “Faith in the SDGs” workstream, led by the Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC), curated a unique one-day hybrid Islamic finance programme to coincide with the COP26’s finance day (Wednesday 3rd November 2021). Islamic finance experts from across the globe gathered both in-person, at the stunning Ross Priory on the banks of Loch Lomond, and remotely to demonstrate the important role Islamic finance can play in supporting climate action in the global south and beyond.

In the SDGs, UN Member States express their commitment to protect the planet from degradation and take urgent action on climate change. One of the most salient factors that challenge the achievement of the SDGs by 2030 is the shortage of financial resources. Several reports and studies have stated that around US$5-7 trillion dollars are required every year to achieve the SDGs, and with governments and donor agencies unable to meet demand, private sector funding is required.

The natural alignment between the SDGs and Islamic principles together with the size of the industry (currently US $2.5 trillion and expected to reach US $3.8 trillion in 2022[1]) mean that Islamic finance is well placed to create instruments that drive significant capital towards the SDGs and climate action.0 The ambitions of the SDGs are consistent with the objectives of Shariah (maqasid al-Shariah) which aim to bring benefits to mankind and prevent harm as well as ensure sustainability of life on earth. SDG alignment presents a unique opportunity for Islamic financial institutions to showcase the inherent social good and ethical basis of Islamic finance.

One of the key challenges in implementing the Paris Agreement and addressing climate change is the funding required to implement projects that contribute positively to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Whilst three quarters of countries have adaptation plans in place, financing remains an issue. According to UNEP FI “annual adaptation costs in developing countries are estimated at USD 70 billion” with his figure “expected to reach USD 140-300 billion in 2030 and USD 280-500 billion in 2050”.[2]

Islamic finance is not limited to Muslim countries and has the potential to support the delivery of NDCs. This could be particularly attractive to the 57 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states which collectively represent over 1.82 billion people (24% of the total world population) and include several low-income countries that are politically or culturally marginalised.

The GEFI / UKIFC Islamic Finance programme at COP26 provided a high profile platform to explore the role Islamic finance can play in attracting the capital needed to achieve the Paris Agreement and deliver the SDGs.

The first session, delivered in partnership with the United Nations (UN) and UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA), discussed how Islamic social financing instruments can collectively promote the principles of social justice, solidarity, brotherhood and mutuality which can serve to help communities respond to and become more resilient to climate change whether related to food and water shortages, displacement as a result of natural disasters, or environmental education amongst other impacts.

Dr. Rola Dashti, Executive Secretary of UNESCWA noted the heavy debt burden in the Arab region, with eight times more debt received than grants for financing climate projects between 2013 and 2019. She highlighted zakat and wakaf assets (which exceed USD$3trillion throughout Muslim countries) as an importance source of grant funding to support innovation in sustainable development. She also provided details of the ESCWA Climate-SDGs Debt Swap / Donor Nexus Initiative which supports the conversion of national debt servicing payments of foreign debt into domestic investment for implementing climate-resilient projects that advance national SDGs. She asked that we all act collectively to utilise Islamic social funds to support the acceleration of the SDGs.

Dr. Al Meraikhi, Humanitarian Envoy to the UN Secretary-General highlighted the launch of International Dialogue on the Role of Islamic Social Financing in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals between the UN and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and noted that faith-based organisations have a crucial role in addressing the finance gap to achieve the SDGs.

The next session saw the UKIFC, Her Majesty’s Treasury, Ministry of Finance in the Republic of Indonesia Ministry, Islamic Development Bank, London Stock Exchange Group and GEFI jointly announce the launch of a High-Level Working Group on Green Sukuk (HLWG).

The 3-year initiative will direct investment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the world’s regions in most need. The announcement followed work of the Global Islamic Finance and UN SDGs Taskforce and a recent report “Innovation in Islamic Finance: Green Sukuk for SDGs” commissioned by UNDP Indonesia in which the UKIFC estimated that an additional US$30+ billion of capital towards the SDGs can be raised by 2025 through green and sustainability sukuk. To unlock this finance the HLWG has been launched to coordinate international efforts. The report showed how green and sustainability sukuk can be a viable financial instrument attracting billions of dollars of capital for green projects that support the delivery of the Paris Agreement.

The HLWG, led by the founding partners, will bring together expert global stakeholders with the UKIFC and GEFI acting as Secretariat. It will focus on the following objectives:


  • Ensuring green and sustainability sukuk is highlighted at annual COP summits up to and including 2023 to increase awareness of the instrument and proactively encourage the issuance of such sukuk by all market stakeholders (corporates, multilaterals and sovereigns) as a key Islamic financing key tool.
  • Assist and enhance existing established global standard setting bodies and regulatory initiatives run by the UN, IsDB and others (e.g. PRI, NGFS, Transform, PRB) to encourage better alignment of the Islamic finance industry with the global green and sustainability financial movement.
  • Identify and address specific existing challenges for green and sustainability sukuk on the supply and demand side.

As part of the introduction to the session UKIFC Managing Director Omar Shaikh outlined the natural alignment between the principles of Islamic finance and the role that green sukuk can play in channelling finance towards the climate emergency and the SDGs.

John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister then highlighted the UK’s strong credentials in green and Islamic finance and positioned green sukuk as an important route to secure investment for sustainable projects. He noted the vital role that Islamic finance must play in the green agenda. Julia Hoggett, Chief Executive, London Stock Exchange plc later welcomed the HLWG as a significant milestone for the development of Islamic finance and sustainable finance globally and stated that Islamic finance is a key component of sustainable finance. She also stressed the need to scale green sukuk to ensure that access to finance in a manner consistent with faith values.

As a pioneer in the issuance of international green sukuk, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance, explained the Republic of Indonesia’s commitment to using the HLWG to share experiences and provide valuable precedents at the same time learning and applying best practices approaches. With the world recovering from global pandemic, Sri Mulyani Indrawati said that the HLWG provides the urgent momentum for nations, multilateral institutions and corporates across the world to work together to grow sustainably for future generations.

The Islamic Finance programme concluded with a Global Islamic Finance and SDGs Taskforce meeting. The Taskforce is a unique collaboration between the public and private sectors spearheaded by the UKIFC, HM Treasury, IsDB and assisted by GEFI. It brings together global Islamic finance practitioners to explore the opportunities for OIC member states to develop a collective approach to sustainable finance and funding the SDGs and climate-linked NDCs.

The meeting included:


  • An update from Sima Kamil, Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan who presented on the pioneering work in sustainable banking being undertaken as part of the Pakistan working group.
  • A presentation by Gatehouse Bank, Chief Executive Officer Charles Haresnape on a Guidance Note prepared in partnership with UKIFC and GEFI to provide a consistent approach to reporting and disclosure for Islamic banks signed up to the UNEP FI Principles for Responsible Banking.
  • An update from UKIFC Advisory Board member Sultan Choudhury on the progress of the largest ever global Islamic finance survey on sustainability.

After two weeks of negotiating, the Glasgow Climate Pact was successful in maintaining the focus on 1.5 degrees Celsius as well as creating a 2-year timetable for agreeing to more ambitious and faster NDCs to provide a lever for more progressive countries to ensure slower countries make the step up. Although the agreement to “phase down” coal power angered some it is notable that this is the first COP agreement that has made a direct reference to phasing down fossil fuels.

The Pact urges developed countries to “fully deliver” the $100bn per year goal through to 2025 as agreed in 2009. It also agrees to double the proportion of climate finance going towards adaptation and, despite a lack of progress, it confirms that a “technical assistance facility” will be introduced to support loss and damage in relation to climate change in developing countries.

Whilst private finance is not a substitute for increased public finance, it will be vital in increasing the scale and reach of climate action and enabling the transition. The programme was a high-profile platform for Islamic finance at COP26 and through the practically focused discussions has demonstrated how Islamic finance can be used effectively by developing countries to support NDC’s by attracting investment, at scale, to projects that, in line with the Paris Agreement, reduce national greenhouse gas emissions.

View all of the videos from our Path to COP26 programme at https://www.efx.global/cop26/.

[1] ICD – Refinitiv, ‘Islamic Finance Development Report 2019: Shifting Dynamics’ https://www.zawya.com/mena/en/ifg-publications/231019121250Z/

[2] United Nations Environment Programme (2021). Adaptation Gap Report 2020, Nairobi.