Amid turmoil, banks recognise importance of sustainability

Posted on December 5, 2008

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I’ve been to a lot of strategy and review meetings in the last few weeks.  I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve  heard words like: “with the current financial crisis, businesses need to focus on the financial bottom line” (with the sometimes spoken assumption that sustainability will have to wait).

The sustainability newslines meanwhile have been full of the “stay focussed” message.    Most are arguing that green makes business sense:

 Dow Jones and other sustainability indices…while not perfect, general trends show that more sustainable companies perform better. 

Here’s perhaps the closest we’ll get to the financial institutions themselves.  The major international banks have joined forces to with the Climate Group (note, cleverly avoiding “change”).   The CEO Steve Howard says:

A rising tide lifts all boats, which is why we have decided to launch a global framework that will unify the response of a sector that is vital to accelerating action on climate change. The current global turmoil has reinforced the fact that global problems require global solutions. Early (sic!) recognition of the risks and opportunities of climate change is essential to this sector’s future success.

Their just released Climate Principles provide a voluntary framework to guide the finance sector in tackling the challenge of climate change.    Like the Design Accord, the principles go beyond considerations of their own footprint to realise a wider role in facilitating and encouraging wider societal change:

Adopting organisations commit to:

• “Minimise our operational carbon footprint”

• “Make business decisions that will reduce climate change risks and allow the development of climate-change related opportunities”

• “Develop products and services that enable our customers to manage their climate change related risks and business opportunities”

• “Engage with our customers, suppliers and wider society to seek opportunities for a low carbon economy”

• “Support the development of sound energy and climate change policy” and

• “Disclose progress against our commitment”

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Posted in: sustainability