Climate Bonds & IDB launch Protected Agriculture Criteria: FIRA from Mexico first to Certify: New Opportunities for Greener Greenhouses

Partnership with IDB widens scope for green agriculture investment


Climate Bonds Initiative has published Protected Agriculture Criteria under the Climate Bonds Standard.

Under development throughout 2018, the new Criteria have been developed by Climate Bonds in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

As we make this announcement IDB are simultaneously announcing at the 49th Alide General Assembly, in Madrid.



FIRA first to Certify

Mexican agricultural development bank FIRA (Fideicomisos Instituidos en Relación con la Agricultura), is the first to issue a Certified Climate Bond under the new Criteria, with a MXN2.5bn (USD130m) offering to the market. Congratulations!


What’s protected agriculture?

Initially designated Greenhouse Criteria covering agricultural greenhouses, for clarity, they were retitled to Protected Agriculture Criteria to avoid confusion with greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Unlike most Sector Criteria, at present the scope is limited to Mexico. The intention is to investigate the application in other jurisdictions and broaden the scope.

If you’re keen to use them beyond Mexico, contact us here.


What makes protected agriculture low carbon and climate resilient?

Agriculture, forestry and land use accounted for 25% of global GHG emissions in 2014 and, as the global population grows and demand for food rises, it is essential to reduce the emissions associated with agriculture.

This can be achieved in two ways:

  1. absolute reduction in GHG emissions and

  2. increasing the yield of product per tonne of CO2e.​

Both are vital for mitigation.

Protected agriculture has the capability to greatly increase the yield of product per tonne of CO2e emitted. However, it also can be an energy intensive way to produce food, particularly when heating is needed.

IDB commissioned research on protected agriculture in Mexico, which provided a methodology to evaluate the environmental benefits of protected agriculture facilities. This was a pivotal piece of research for developing the Climate Bonds Protected Agriculture Criteria.

From a resilience perspective, protected agriculture performs well. The nature of the facilities mean that the growing environment is closely controlled and protected from pests and diseases. A stipulation on chemicals used is also included in the Protected Agriculture Criteria due to the effect these can have on the wider environment.


More about FIRA’s Certification

FIRA issued its inaugural green bond in October 2018. The bond finances both irrigation and protected agriculture assets.The irrigation assets were evaluated against the Climate Bonds Water Criteria. Once the Protected Agriculture Criteria were ready for use, FIRA undertook post-issuance Certification of their bond to confirm that the assets align with the Criteria. 

FIRA is the first to Certify using the Protected Agriculture Criteria, which also makes it the first Certified Climate Bond in the agriculture sector. Protected Agriculture are the first Criteria to be released for the agriculture sector.

We are currently developing Agriculture Criteria for perennial crops, non-perennial crops and livestock and these should be out for public consultation towards the end of the year.


Who is saying what?

Juan Antonio Ketterer, Head of the Connectivity, Markets and Finance Division of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB):

"The agricultural sector has a lot of untapped potential for the green bond market and more broadly the sustainable finance sector. There is a lack of methodologies that support the evaluation of beneficial environmental impacts that sustainable agricultural technologies may have. The design of this methodology is a first step with a lot of replication potential in our region and with great pride and pleasure we present the results of this work and this first issue from FIRA."



Justine Leigh-Bell, Deputy CEO, Climate Bonds Initiative:

"Climate Bonds is delighted to jointly launch the Protected Agriculture Criteria, developed with the support of the IDB. The new Criteria provide guidance on investing in low carbon and climate resilient horticultural greenhouses; a step forward for sustainability in the wider agriculture sector.”

“We congratulate FIRA for their leadership and commitment to best practice in becoming the first institution to use the new Criteria for Climate Bonds Certification. Together with IDB and FIRA, a significant milestone in greening Mexican agriculture has been achieved.”


Broadening green opportunities

The latest Criteria launch is part of a longer-term programme to expand the reach of the Standard to new sectors and incorporate increased adaptation and resilience factors.

Last year, Certification was extended to green investment in Forestry.

Low Carbon Buildings has seen major expansion with new baselines for major cities in Germany and across Europe.

Woolworths Group in Australia has recently gained Certification for AUD500m green bond, specific to low carbon supermarkets.

In Agriculture, Shipping and Adaptation and Resilience (AREG) Technical Working Groups are now in place.

We’ll be opening a public consultation on Draft Waste Criteria in the next few weeks.


A big thank you to the reviewers and consultants

As with all our sector criteria, we would not have been able to get 'Protected Agriculture' to this point without the help of our reviewers and consultants. A special thank you goes to Christine Negra and Lawrence Pratt who both gave considerable time and effort.


The last word

The new Criteria provide guidance on investing in low carbon and climate resilient horticultural greenhouses; it’s a small but important segment for the agriculture sector and we have an Agriculture TWG working on wider questions in the sector.

Working in partnership with the IDB has been vital to bring this Criteria to market.

Finally, FIRA deserve recognition for pursuing Certification. Banks leading the way in best practice in green issuance is a positive signal to markets everywhere.

Well done all round!


‘Till next time,

Climate Bonds