Conference proceedings

Conference proceedings

Opening Remarks - Day 3


Martin Holtmann, Manager, Financial Institutions Group, International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Main Topics Discussed so Far

  • The role of SME financiers in limiting global warming and its impacts, especially the challenges and opportunities in financing critical SME sector while supporting greater mitigation activities and practices.

  • Locating green value in SME lending, including ways in which financial institutions can assess environmental sustainability of the SMEs without burdening their SME clients with unreasonable demands, and without increasing portfolio risk. 

  • Green tech solutions which highlighted the role and importance of technology innovation such as AI, blockchain and cloud. in supporting SMEs to respond to climate change and improving quality and accessibility of their credit data.  

  • Building climate resilient SMEs which look at unique opportunities to invest in and scale climate adaptive businesses and practices.

  • Financing green agriculture and agribusinesses which explore models for financing new agricultural investments in emerging markets.

  • The collaborative approach to the value of small business climate action where panelists discussed the business and financial incentives motivating SMEs to take climate actions. 

Impressions and Takeaways 

  1. SMEs play critical role in fighting climate changes BUT NEED HELP to do so: as we all know, SMEs account for the majority of businesses worldwide and they represent about 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide. SMEs are rooted in their communities. They're very well placed to understand and act upon the interdependencies of climate nature and social equity at local, regional level. Every time that an SME makes a hiring decision, it advances, or setback inclusion. Building their resilience is imperative. SMEs need not only access to financial services to decarbonize but also support in terms of standards, capacity building and expert advice.        

  1. Green finance is not only a solution to address the impact of climate change but also represents a huge business opportunity for both SMEs and financial institutions 
    Climate business can generate $23 trillion in investment opportunities, create 213 million cumulative jobs, and achieve 4 billion tons of CO2e reduction in developing countries. These opportunities exist in a wide range of sectors, including climate-smart agriculture, energy efficiency and renewable energy, climate risk mitigation and adaptation, sustainable purchases, green buildings, food system, solar distributed generation, and sustainable transportation. Helping SMEs decarbonize and transition into carbon neutral economy requires considerable and patient capital but represents a great business opportunity for financial institutions.