In the September 2019 Monetary Policy Committee’s press release, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) reported that banks in Ghana hold a total asset of GH¢115.2 billion, indicating the crucial role universal banks are playing in allocating financial resources. In Ghana, like in many developing countries, a significant proportion of projects is being financed by universal banks. However, banks’ funding is often used for activities which impact adversely on the environmental quality and social standards [1].

Ghana successfully concluded its four-year Extended Credit Facility (ECF) supported programme under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April 2019; and has, since 2017, made significant progress towards the attainment of macroeconomic stability following the implementation of sound initiatives and policies that have spurred economic growth and job creation.

However, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, has had a significant impact on the macroeconomic gains attained over the past years. These include the erosion of an averaging GDP growth of 7.0% over the past 3 years to 0.4% in 2020. Economic activities are expected to pick up in 2021 following the gradual easing of the COVID-19 restrictions, the steady rollout of the vaccination programme as well as the Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation, Revitalisation and Enterprise Support Programme (CARES) [2].


Key policies and governance approach

Ghana began its journey toward sustainable banking in 2015, and the process has been a collaborative effort among government regulators, the banking industry, and international partners. The leading body of the policy development process, the Sustainable Banking Committee (SBC), is a national collaboration platform established by Bank of Ghana (BoG) and includes representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB). BoG also worked closely with leading global organizations, such as IFC and SBN, to conduct capacity building and align its principles with international good practice [3].

In November 2019, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) launched the Ghana Sustainable Banking Principles (SBPs) to provide the guiding principles to underpin effective Environmental and Social Risk Management (ESRM) policy frameworks for banks. It presented seven principles: (i) Environmental and Social Risk Management (ESRM); (ii) Internal Environment Social and Governance (ESG) in banks operations; (iii) Corporate Governance and Ethical Standard; (iv) Gender Equality; (v) Financial Inclusion; (vi) Resource efficiency, Sustainable Production and Consumption; and (vii) Reporting [4]. Further, it consists of 5 Sector-specific Guidance Notes on priority areas of the economy, covering (i) Agriculture & Forestry, (ii) Mining and Oil & Gas, (iii) Construction & Real Estate, (iv) Power & Energy, and (v) Manufacturing activities as related to the banking portfolios [1].

In 2020, 24 commercial banks in Ghana had agreed to the Sustainable Banking Principles. Among agreed banks, Barclays Bank of Ghana, Ecobank, and GCB Bank agreed to measure and report their progress in implementing the principles [4].

In 2021, Ghana published the Sustainable Financing Framework, which was developed to demonstrate how the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Finance, will periodically screen the strategies developed by the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for programmes and projects with green and/or social credentials that will be funded from the National Budget. These programmes and projects will form the basis for issuances of Green, Social or Sustainability Financing transactions to (re)finance new or existing expenditures that have been identified in accordance with this Sustainability Financing Framework which is consistent with the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) Green Bond Principles 2021 (GBP), Social Bond Principles 2021 (SBP), and Sustainability Bond Guidelines 2021 (SBG) as well as the LMA and APLMA Green Loan Principles 2021 (GLP), Social Loan Principles 2021 (SLP). The Sustainable Financing Framework also aligns with the Sustainability-Linked Bond Principles 2020 (SLBP) and the Sustainability-Linked Loan Principles 2019 (SLLP) and provides the basis for the issuance of Sustainability-Linked Financing [2].



As with peer countries, ongoing progress in sustainable banking development requires proactive strategies to develop a supportive enabling environment, build capacity, and develop specific tools to support sustainable banking implementation. BoG emphasized that implementation could be threatened by inadequate awareness, commitment, and capacity among banks, as well as budgetary constraints at BoG to support and enforce implementation [3].


Initiatives and Development Plans

Ghana has been undertaking policy reforms and green investments calibrated to mitigate against poverty and hunger, climate change and natural resources degradation, while simultaneously providing new and sustainable pathways to inclusive economic development and prosperity. The Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda II (2014-2017) was promoting the adoption of the principles of green economy in national development planning. Ghana has also embarked on other initiatives addressing environmental fiscal reform, climate change adaptation and climate change policy and is looking to build a more robust and sustainable economy [5].



  • Build the capacity of regulators and financial institutions.
  • Enhance cooperation among financial institutions.
  • Provide clear incentives for sustainable finance.
  • Develop and launch a sustainable finance roadmap.
  • Expand sustainable finance to other financial sectors e.g., insurance, capital markets, and pension sectors.
  • Develop a taxonomy of green/socially inclusive projects.
  • Promote publicly available environmental data.
  • Create green asset guidelines, incentives, and awareness.
  • Sustainable banking activities should support financial inclusion through capacity building, awareness creation, and the expansion of digital finance.
  • Sustainable banking should also support SME finance, which facilitates productive activities, employment creation, and poverty reduction.

[1] Bank of Ghana (2019). Guidance Notes for the Sustainable Banking Principles.

[2] Ministry of Finance (2021). Sustainable Financing Framework.

[3] International Finance Corporation, as the Secretariat of the Sustainable Banking Network (SBN) (2020). Country Profile Ghana.

[4] Green Finance Platform (2019). [Online]. Available:

[5] Abubakari, M, Asamoah, P.K.B, Agyemang, F.O. (2018). Ghana and Sustainable Development: The 40-Year National Development Plan in Retrospective. Journal of Human Resource and Sustainability Studies, 2018, 6, 24-36.