Will social bonds survive Covid?
The social bond market has boomed as public-sector borrowers raise funding to mitigate the pandemic. Now they need to become long-term options for both banks and corporates.
On October 20, the European Union crowned a triumphant year for the social bond market when it raised €17 billion of financing for its Covid-19 employment mitigation programme.
That took total issuance this year to roughly $80 billion, nearly three times the amount sold in 2019.
Social bonds have been around for a while. French industrial group Air Liquide issued a ‘socially responsible bond’ in 2012, and principles for issuance were published by the International Capital Market Association (Icma) two years later.
Yet, until this year the new instrument had struggled to gain traction, overshadowed by the rapid growth of the green bond market. In 2019, social bonds accounted for just 8.5% of total sustainable debt issuance, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative.
That all changed with the arrival of Covid.