Oct 17, 2023 – The Central Bank of the Republic of Kosovo (CBK), Kosovo Banking Association (KBA), Sustainable Banking and Finance Network (SBFN), and International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank, in partnership with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), on 5 October 2023 convened the Sustainable Finance Forum in conjunction with efforts to promote sustainable banking and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) integration in the country.
The event is an outcome of the cooperation agreement between KBA and IFC, which seeks to further sustainable banking practices by raising awareness and implementing innovative strategies to promote sustainable in Kosovo.
Speaking at the forum, Petrit Balija, CEO of KBA shared: “Banks have had to carefully manage their liquidity, mitigate credit risks, and strike a delicate balance between prudence and growth. They have had to invest in technology and digital transformation to streamline processes, enhance customer experience and financial inclusivity, and ensure operational efficiency. Nevertheless, despite these challenges, the banking sector in Kosovo has not left aside its aspirations for building an ecosystem for sustainable finance. Thanks to the generous support from IFC and the great commitment from our member banks, we have been able to join the SBFN network and have signed a cooperation agreement with IFC to further make progress on the ESG agenda.” KBA joined SBFN in 2022.
The Sustainable Finance Forum featured keynote remarks on recent developments in sustainable finance by SBFN Global Coordinator Rong Zhang. “Financial sector regulators, other government agencies and industry associations play a critical role in creating the enabling framework for sustainable finance,” she reflected. “Discussions [at the Forum] will help develop practical solutions to create a strong enabling environment. Our experience is that collaboration between agencies, between the public and private sector, and across jurisdictions, is a critical component to facilitate effective approaches to the development of sustainable finance.”
Ms. Zhang noted that in the past three years, SBFN has seen a progression from sustainable finance awareness raising to focus on policy formulation and implementation. “We are quickly moving from the ‘why’ of sustainability to the ‘how,’ driven, in large part, by climate change and the COVID pandemic, with the result that sustainability is no longer a nice-to-have but a necessity for the financial sector globally,” Ms. Rong said while calling on more institutions from the Western Balkans to join IFC’s and SBFN’s efforts to reinforce the strong momentum for sustainable finance in the region.
“Across all spheres of sustainable finance, including standards for ESG integration, climate risk management, disclosure, taxonomies, and more, we are also seeing avid engagement between regulators through international platforms like SBFN, G20 Sustainable Finance Working Group, and Network for Greening the Financial System, on common approaches to designing national sustainable finance frameworks,” added Ms. Zhang.
The event included a session on sustainable finance roadmaps with examples from SBFN members in the region shared by Boris Janjalia, IFC Corporate Governance Officer and SBFN Regional Coordinator in Europe. Salome Tvalodze, Head of Sustainable Finance Division within the Financial Stability Department at the National Bank of Georgia and Co-chair of the SBFN Data and Disclosure Working Group, also shared experiences from Georgia.