Industrial park with railway. Belgrade, Serbia. Photo: Z. Mrdja/World Bank
The Integrated Environmental, Social, and Governance Program in Serbia delivers its activities in various components.
The program supports the government of Serbia in developing the local capital market through various activities within the World Bank Group Joint Capital Market Program.
The recent, new collaboration with the Belgrade Stock Exchange includes support on developing environmental, social, and governance guidelines and possibly other matters relevant for their membership in the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, with which IFC has a strategic partnership.
ESG and sustainable finance–related activities are growing in Serbia’s banking sector. The Association of Serbian Banks has agreed to the IFC-led Sustainable Banking and Finance Network and has jointly a established sustainable finance working group to shape voluntary guidance in this area. The two institutions have also organized several successful events on sustainable finance to institutionalize IFC training programs within the Association of Serbian Banks’s Bank Training Center.
Serbia has made progress in local market infrastructure capacity building for good ESG performance, and the country stands out with the high number of companies reached by the program’s local partners that had implemented recommended changes relating to ESG and the number of partners’ fee-based trainings.
The program delivered a regional training of trainers in Belgrade to help regional partner institutions deepen their knowledge of sustainability disclosure and transparency and to build regional capacities to adapt IFC disclosure and transparency tools (particularly the forthcoming e-platform) for designing partners’ own training programs, consulting, and other services.
The program supported a major domestic bank on establishing an environmental and social management system and board oversight on environmental and social matters, aiming to increase investment potential by de-risking the client and making it investment-ready, and providing a solid demonstration effect in the market in implementation of sustainable finance principles.
The program also piloted the first integrated ESG diagnostic service to a major real sector listed company.
IFC has been delivering its corporate governance activities in Serbia since 2006, providing various companies with direct corporate governance advisory work and delivering numerous publications and awareness raising events.
With IFC’s support and advice, the government of Serbia (specifically the Ministry of Economy) initiated a groundbreaking effort to improve the corporate governance of Serbia’s state-owned enterprises and boost their efficiency. This is paving the way for establishing a system for professional development for supervisory board members and management to increase accountability and transparency. The scope also included developing tools to assess governance of state-owned enterprises, trainings for boards of selected enterprises, and advice on state ownership models for the staff of the supervision unit in the Ministry of Economy.
IFC has worked with multiple stock exchanges from Europe and Central Asia including Serbia, in order to improve the level of reporting on corporate governance issues and aligning them with best practice with a final aim of raising corporate governance standards of listed companies. In Serbia, IFC developed a landmark Corporate Governance Scorecard with the Belgrade Stock Exchange used to assess and improve governance practices of listed companies and issued a comprehensive manual on corporate governance.
IFC developed a voluntary Corporate Governance Code with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia, which is the most comprehensive code in the Western Balkans region and applies to all types of companies. IFC previously launched a training program for board members on corporate governance with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and published a corporate governance manual and delivered numerous trainings at the regional chambers of commerce on governance of small and medium enterprises, piloting the new small and medium enterprise governance tool and guidebook.
The Integrated Environmental, Social, and Governance Program is implemented in partnership with the Switzerland State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).