Deutsche Bank has hired Kalpana Seethepalli as a director to lead work on the measurement and monitoring of ESG transactions, including in trade finance, in the Asia Pacific region.

Seethepalli joins Deutsche from Infra-Tech Capital, an impact fund, where she was managing director of sustainability and impact. She has also worked at the World Bank as an economist, focusing on sustainable development and investment policy, blended finance and public-private partnerships.

In her new role, Seethepalli will focus on the frameworks, measurement, monitoring and sustainable finance taxonomies for ESG transactions.

The hire follows the bank’s appointment of Kamran Khan as head of ESG for Apac in May.

“Client demand for proven ESG expertise from their banking partners is rapidly rising. At Deutsche Bank we are intensely focused on building out our ESG competence and embedding it throughout all of our businesses and service offerings as a key element of our growth strategy for the region,” says Deutsche’s Asia Pacific CEO Alexander von zur Muehlen.

Khan adds: “Kalpana’s arrival adds best-in-class sustainability operational expertise to complement our strong coverage, structuring and transaction services capabilities.”

In July, Deutsche agreed a US$25mn sustainability-linked loan with global rubber supplier Halcyon Agri Corporation. Proceeds of the loan will be used for the maintenance of Halcyon’s rubber plantations in Malaysia and Cameroon.

The loan’s rates are attached to the rubber maker meeting certain mutually agreed sustainability performance targets outlined in a framework developed by consulting firm Environmental Resources Management.

In general, however, the definition of ESG transactions in trade has proved a sticking point, as what is classed as a ‘brown’ or a ‘green’ project can change depending on financial institutions’ criteria. There is also no central body which audits sustainability-linked financing programmes, meaning that there are hundreds of different assessment techniques and scales and ways of looking at ESG.