Label to identify sustainable infrastructure assets launched

Group behind label has also asked for expressions of interest to host label Secretariat

A global Sustainable Infrastructure Label (SI Label) aiming to help developers and operators to demonstrate the positive impact of an infrastructure asset has been launched today at COP26.  

The label has been developed under the finance industry-led initiative Finance to Accelerate the Sustainable Transition: Infrastructure (FAST-Infra), launched in early 2020 by the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI), HSBC, IFC, OECD and the World Bank Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF). The working group behind the label was led by Macquarie, HSBC and the World Bank GIF.  

FAST-Infra said the label will “facilitate faster and more accurate due diligence processes and structuring of investments, thereby reducing transaction costs of sustainable investments”. 

The label will be applied on asset level and can be applied to any type of financing – equity, debt and public finance – and can be used at all stages of a project, including planning, designing, developing, constructing, financing and decommissioning.  

FAST-Infra said the label has been endorsed by a number of investor groups including the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero and Long Term Infrastructure Investor Association. 

As previously reported by RI, for an asset to qualify for the SI Label, it will need to make a measurable positive contribution to at least one of the 14 sustainability criteria in the framework. In addition, it needs to comply with minimum environmental and social safeguards and risk mitigation measures set out in the framework.  

Today’s announcement also clarified that all projects with an SI Label should “provide a statement on consideration of the project’s lifecycle contribution to the transition toward net zero emissions”.  

The SI Label working group developed the global framework and sustainability criteria by mapping 21 existing standards and frameworks, including the EU Taxonomy, the Green and Social Bond Principles, GRESB and Global Infrastructure Basel’s SuRe standard.  

As part of the work on the label, FAST-Infra is also working on a technology-enabled financing platform for sustainable infrastructure, the design and development of which is being led by IBM. It has run a “very positive” first pilot phase of the platform, during which government agencies from Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, South Africa, and Uzbekistan created 10 infrastructure projects, and evaluated them against a preliminary version of the FAST-Infra SI Label.  

When asked whether the data platform would be free and publicly available, a spokesperson for the initiative said: “No final decision has been reached on this question. FAST-Infra would like the information on the platform to be made as freely available to users. However, ultimately a charge may have to be made. Whatever the overall charging model, it is likely that the platform will be free to use for developing world countries.”  

As previously reported, the label working group planned to also this year – likely around the launch of the label – run a request for proposals (RFP) for a Secretariat for the platform, which would likely be set up with donor backing from governments already involved in FAST-Infra. The spokesperson said the group has asked for expressions of interest from parties to host the Secretariat as well as the data repository. It is expected to issue RFPs shortly after COP26.