Today ecological and social criteria (ESG, Environmental Social Governance) are as important for investors as financial indicators. Companies that do not comply with environmental or ethical standards are increasingly being punished by the financial markets. They must now disclose which resources are used in the manufacture of a product, which suppliers are employed, which pollutant residues may still be in the product, etc. The Sustainability and Diversity Improvement Act (NaDiVeG) commits companies in Austria to this type of transparency. 

There are also initiatives that try to counteract climate change on the capital market. With the "Action Plan. Financing Sustainable Growth" the EU sets targets for the financial sector. In June 2018, Austrian politicians presented the paper "#mission2030 - the Climate and Energy Strategy of the Austrian Federal Government" and anchored the promotion of Green Finance here. 

What opportunities for sustainable investments are there? 

Stocks

Currently, 19 companies are listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange, which according to rfu are leaders in ecological and social activities and services. These include (as of June 2019): 

AGRANA BETEILIGUNGS-AGPALFINGER AG
AMAG AUSTRIA METALL AGROSENBAUER INTERNATIONAL AG
AT & S AUSTRIA TECH. & SYSTEMTECH.TELEKOM AUSTRIA AG
BKS BANK AGUNIQA INSURANCE GROUP
BURGENLAND HOLDING AGVALNEVA SE
CA IMMOBILIEN ANLAGEN AGVERBUND AG
ERSTE GROUP BANK AGVIENNA INSURANCE GROUP AG
EVN AGWIENERBERGER AG
KAPSCH TRAFFICCOM AGZUMTOBEL GROUP AG
LENZING AG


These companies are included in the sustainability index VÖNIX. It is the benchmark for sustainable investment in Austria. Since 2005 the VÖNIX has been calculated daily in real time in Euro by the Vienna Stock Exchange. 

The CEE counterpart to VÖNIX is the CECE Socially Responsible Investment (CECE SRI EUR). It consists of those companies that are tradable on the stock exchanges in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe and that are leaders in terms of social and environmental performance.

Green Bonds

Green bonds are considered a new form of sustainable investment. Their sole purpose is to finance ecological projects. The following Green Bonds are currently listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange (as of August 2018):

  • The Green Bond of Verbund AG (ISIN: XS1140300663) with a volume of 500 million euros and a term until 2024. The funds are used for financing and refinancing energy efficiency measures in numerous hydropower plants and wind power investments according to the prospectus.
  • The Green Bond of Hypo Vorarlberg Bank AG (ISIN: XS1685589027) with a volume of EUR 300 million and a term until 2022 serves to finance energy-efficient residential and commercial real estate in Vorarlberg according to the terms of issue.
  • The proceeds from the issue of the green BKS Bank AG bond (ISIN: AT0000A1Y6S4) in the amount of 3 million euros will be used to finance a small hydropower plant in Carinthia.
  • The Green Bond Benchmark Bond of Raiffeisen Bank International AG (ISIN: XS1852213930) in the amount of 500 million euros with a maturity until 2021 serves to finance and refinance Green Loans in the CEE region in accordance with the bond terms. 

Here you will find a list of all Green Bonds currently listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange.

The EU Commission is currently working on official European sustainability standards and certificates for Green Bonds. This is intended to encourage countries and companies to issue even more Green Bonds. On the other hand, a stop should be put to possible uncontrolled growth. 

At present, voluntary guidelines already exist, which are laid down in the "Green Bond Principles". They are designed to ensure the integrity and transparency of the product and regulate the selection process for a project, the disclosure and management of the use of funds and the reporting requirements to ensure that the funds actually benefit society and the environment. The guidelines also include the recommendation of an external review by independent institutes, which assess the sustainability of the respective project through so-called second party opinions. There is also the possibility of an eco-rating.