SEPTEMBER 26, 2019 – NEW YORK & SINGAPORE – Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), a global organization dedicated to building a more inclusive world through innovative finance and support for high-impact enterprises, has won the 2019 UN Global Climate Action Award for its Women’s Livelihood BondTM Series (WLB Series). The Award, given by the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC) in the backdrop of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York, recognizes the most innovative, scalable and replicable solutions across the globe that are tackling climate change alongside other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The US$150+ million WLB Series aims to create sustainable livelihoods for over 2 million women across Asia through innovative finance. The WLB Series also drives progress in multiple SDGs, including: SDG 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work), 13 (Climate Action), and 17 (Partnerships). The UN Global Climate Action Award specifically recognized IIX’s contribution to the UNFCCC’s focus area of Financing for Climate Friendly Investment, which highlights successful financial innovations for climate adaptation and mitigation.
“This year, we had over 670 incredible applications for the UN Global Climate Action Award,” said Niclas Svenningsen, Manager of the UN Climate Change Global Climate Action Programme. “It is our pleasure to give this award to the Women’s Livelihood BondTM Series. Their innovative financing mechanism serves as a beacon, guiding us towards a more sustainable and resilient future for all. Their project is unlocking an impressive USD 150 million in capital to empower over two million women in South and Southeast Asia – providing a shining example of a scalable and replicable climate solution,” Svenningsen concluded.
IIX CEO and Founder Durreen Shahnaz said, “IIX’s Women’s Livelihood BondTM Series is transforming the way that the world tackles both gender equality and climate action. The effects of climate change are felt acutely by women in the developing world, who remain trapped in subsistence living and struggle to cope with weather related shocks and access low-carbon growth technologies. Increasing the climate resilience of communities has to start with building sustainable livelihoods for the most vulnerable, especially women, and empowering them as solution builders to climate change.”
In 2017 IIX launched the first of the WLB Series, the Women’s Livelihood BondTM 1 (WLB1)—which is the world’s first impact investing instrument to be listed on a stock exchange, reporting both social and financial returns. Listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and quoted on Bloomberg, the WLB1 is also the world’s first listed financial product that is focused on women’s livelihoods. The WLB1 was oversubscribed by investors, and raised US$8M in private capital to empower 385,000 underserved women across Southeast Asia to transition from subsistence to sustainable livelihoods.
Demonstrating the scalability and replicability of the WLB Series, the second Women’s Livelihood BondTM (WLB2) will build on the success of the WLB1 to benefit at least 1 million women across Asia; expand to include more countries than those in the WLB1 such as India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia; and include new sectors such as access to clean and affordable energy in addition to sustainable agriculture and financial inclusion.
The WLB Series brings together ecosystem stakeholders to mobilize large scale private investment to drive women’s empowerment. The WLB Series includes civil society partners such as the Rockefeller Foundation, UN Women, the Clinton Global Initiative and the Japan Research Institute; government agencies such as the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT); law firms such as Shearman & Sterling, Hogan Lovells, Latham and Watkins, and Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas; and banking partners such as DBS Bank (Southeast Asia’s largest bank) and ANZ.
The WLB Series are innovative financial instruments which pool together a group of impact enterprises to issue a collective bond. These bonds differ from Social Impact Bonds as they mobilize private sector capital to generate positive social impact, offer financial returns independent of social outcomes, and are able to be listed on both social and traditional stock exchanges. IIX’s proprietary impact assessments measure the social impact and financial viability of the borrowers beforehand, ensuring greater accountability for investors. The WLB Series also differs from Funds as they are fixed income products that provide investors with a fixed return (independent of exits), as well as a pre-determined, pre-screened basket of entities. The WLB Series are important given the large-scale private investment needed to bridge the SDG funding gaps.
60% of the labor force in Asia work in sectors impacted by climate change like agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, with natural disasters costing the region US$48.7 billion on average between 2007-2016.