Sustainable financing


As one of Europe's main national promotional banks, ICO contributes to the development of sustainable finance, aligning its activity with the ESG sustainability objectives established by the United Nations in the SDGs of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreements (COP21).

The recent approval of ICO's Sustainability Policy, approved in February 2020, has been a milestone, laying the foundations for the establishment of a governance framework that prioritises the identification, financing and measurement of the environmental and social impact of its activity, encouraging the financing of companies and projects that facilitate the ecological transition and a model of sustainable economic growth in public-private and financial and business sector collaboration. 

In parallel with the management of the COVID Guarantee Lines, 2020 has been a key year for the consolidation of ICO companies' sustainable financing activity, with the approval of financing operations amounting to 2,760 million euros linked to sustainable development projects and plans in all three aspects: environmental, social and governance, helping to promote economic recovery and boost the ecological and digital transition.

In relation to environmental matters, ICO has maintained a high degree of commitment to financing for the development of energy efficiency, mobility, renewable energy development and water treatment projects, among others, amounting to around 1,140 million euros.  In 2020, a number of examples of financing showcase this commitment, including the 20 million euros in financing for the Arteche Group's R&D+i investment plan, helping to promote the energy transition by developing safer and more efficient electrical systems.  Other relevant examples include the granting of a green loan to Iberdrola to accelerate its sustainable mobility strategy through the installation of 2,500 recharging points on the road network. In addition, ICO, along with Kutxabank, has co-financed Balenciaga's construction of an aquaculture vessel.  In 2019, the loans granted to Iberdrola and Endesa were also of note.

In relation to social financing, in 2020 ICO's social impact was particularly noteworthy, amounting to 1,620 million euros. ICO provided direct financing to companies of all sizes, complementing the Government's measures to tackle the economic impact of COVID-19. In the social sphere, mention should be made of ICO's social housing financing programme. Together with the EIB, in February 2020, ICO approved 40 million euros in financing for a total of 562 public social rental houses sponsored by Empresa Municipal de Vivienda y Suelo de Sevilla and committed to providing 9.2 million euros of additional financing for the purchase of 150 homes as part of the EMVISESA programme to acquire vacant homes with the aim of incorporating them into the public stock of rental homes, making housing more accessible to the most disadvantaged groups. It is also worth highlighting the 2019 financing of groups with significant social impact, such as Ilunion, in order to finance investments that improve the energy and environmental efficiency of businesses so they can continue creating quality employment for people with disabilities. In total, with the 6 issues of social bonds reported to date, 63,120 projects have been financed, creating or maintaining 392,000 jobs. It should be noted that in May we were the first Spanish issuer to launch a public transaction of COVID-19 Response social bonds.

2020 has also been an outstanding year in the field of alternative financing promoted by ICO and Axis, its venture capital manager subsidiary. Sustainability criteria have also been implemented at Axis via its three funds: Fond-ICO Global (€4,500 million), Fond-ICO Pyme (€250 million) and Fond-ICO Infraestructuras II (€400 million). Through a public-private partnership system, AXIS co-invests in funds (fund of funds) and in projects and sectors with a sustainability component on a minority basis.

  • Fond-ICO Global: In its last two calls, companies' and projects' digitisation and ESG sustainability criteria were included as qualitative criteria in evaluating the selection of funds.
  • FondICO PYME: Initiative for sustainability and social impact, launched in 2019 for a target amount of €50 million euros. The investment is directed at private capital entities that invest in companies developing projects with a significant social and/or environmental and circular economy impact. Within this framework, AXIS signed its first participation in this fund for an amount of 5 million euros, in Q Impact, and another 5 million, in Creas Impacto, the first institutional impact investment fund in Spain to support social enterprises in their growth phase.  In 2021, Axis participated in the BSocial Impact Fund, an impact venture capital fund for Spanish startups that aim to improve the quality of life of vulnerable groups, and fight climate change and early school leaving.
  • FondICO Infraestructuras II: this fund invests in sustainable infrastructure (transport, social infrastructure and energy and environment) in Spain and abroad.  The fund's last activity was participating in  Grenergy, for the amount of 12.9 million euros, to build and develop the Escuderos solar farm in Cuenca, which will be one of the largest solar farms in Spain.

In its financing activity, ICO adheres to and applies the main international standards such as the Equator Principles, the Green Loan Principles or the Sustainability Linked Loan Principles. It is also collaborating in the deployment and implementation of the Sustainable Finance Action Plan promoted by the European Commission and is participating, along with other European national promotional banks, in joint programmes such as the Joint Initiative on Circular Economy or the Clean Ocean Initiative.


ICO adheres to the Equator Principles, systematically applying these demanding environmental and social risk assessment and management standards in its project finance activity in Spain, Europe and Latin America. In this way, ICO, along with other financial entities with which it collaborates, encourages the implementation of environmental and social management systems and plans by its clients, internalising these aspects in the planning and execution of projects. During 2019, between 15 and 20% of ICO's international direct financing was managed under the Equator Principles, enabling the total mobilisation of 2,477 million euros in resources.

ICO also applies Green Loan Principles and Sustainability Linked Loan Principles, promoted by the Loan Market Association (LMA) in collaboration with ICMA, to certain loans. The application of these principles to certain corporate loans, along with other financiers, in sectors ranging from agri-food and industrial to tourism, encourages companies' sustainable activity by linking a cost component to the evolution of key performance indicators (KPI), such as the reduction of workplace accidents, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the reduction of energy consumption and the evolution of an ESG rating prepared by specialised rating agencies.