ANNOUNCEMENT: Pre-issuance certification under Climate Bonds Standard secured
Lionheart Farms (Philippines) Corporation, a sustainable coconut farm in Palawan, Philippines, received Pre-Issuance Certification from the Climate Bonds Standard Board for the company’s green bond to expand coconut cultivation. Green bonds fund projects with environmental or climate benefits. With support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Green Invest Asia program, the Hong-Kong based verifier, Carbon Care Asia, confirmed that Lionheart Farms has processes and controls in place to issue a green bond.
Located at the foot of Mt. Mantalingahan facing the West Philippine Sea, Lionheart Farms plants and harvests sustainable high-yield coconut trees on leased land in the municipality of Rizal in Palawan, where the company has, over the last five years, created employment for thousands in the community and protected the environment from land degradation, biodiversity loss and deforestation. Lionheart Farms’ green bonds would finance planting new trees over the next five years. These trees will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions over 15 years by almost 196,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), which is the equivalent emissions from driving an average passenger vehicle almost eight times around the earth.
Lionheart Farms’ bonds will be labelled “Climate Bonds”, which are a type of green bond that promote low-carbon, climate-resilient assets, by the Climate Bonds Initiative. The initiative manages the Climate Bonds Standard and Certification Scheme that labels bonds, loans and other debt instruments. The scheme supports the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius. Bond issuers, governments, investors and financial markets worldwide use this scheme to prioritize investments addressing climate change.
While in the first three months of 2021, Asia-Pacific issuers accounted for nearly one quarter of global green bond issuance, up from 18 percent last year, according to Moody’s, only a small fraction (less than 5 percent) globally were earmarked for agriculture or land use. With an agricultural climate bond, proceeds must finance climate-friendly agricultural assets. Lionheart Farm’s bond issuance is the first agricultural bond in Asia promoted by Climate Bonds Initiative, an international, investor-focused, not-for-profit that mobilizes global debt capital markets for climate change solutions.
“The certification acknowledges Lionheart’s sustainable coconut production,” said Dr. Steven G. Olive, USAID’s Regional Mission Director for Asia, which has supported Lionheart Farms’ pre-issuance work. “Climate bonds for agricultural investment can improve food security and farmer livelihoods. USAID is proud to promote investments that transform agricultural systems, reduce emissions, and build climate resilience.”
Lionheart’s green bonds complement USAID’s work in the same protected Mt. Mantalingahan landscape to strengthen environmental protections and the local economy through the Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans, and Landscapes (SIBOL) project.
USAID Green Invest Asia helps sustainable agriculture and forestry companies with land use operations in Southeast Asia raise capital through technical assistance, capital matchmaking, investment-readiness counsel, and transaction support, while also supporting investors to grow their pipelines of green agriculture, forestry and other land use investments.
The green bonds will be issued by the Earthwake Reforestation Bond Fund, a sub-fund of the Earthwake Green Impact Fund VCC managed by First Degree Global Asset Management Pte. Ltd. in Singapore. The Earthwake Green Impact Fund VCC was created to provide financing for small and medium-sized enterprises throughout Asia and the Pacific region, while complying with international compliance rules and regulations.
“USAID Green Invest Asia‘s support was critical to secure pre-issuance certification from the Climate Bond Standard Initiative, which paves the way for capital raising innovation,” said Anders Haagen, Executive Chairman of Lionheart Agrotech Limited.
“We are very pleased that the Climate Bonds Initiative has recognized, through this certification, the greenness of the Lionheart Farms’ business. We look forward to discussing with impact investors and other institutions how this upcoming transaction will deliver tangible results,” said Stephen Fisher, Chief Investment Officer of First Degree Global Asset Management Pte. Ltd.
The next step of the process is issuance as a Certified Climate Bond.