The environmental responsibility of banks and financial companies in general and initiatives aimed at protecting the environment and minimising the effects of banking activities were the subject of a meeting organised in Athens today by Eurobank EFG and Emporiki Bank, under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme – Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
At the meeting which focused on the question “What is the environmental responsibility of Banks?”, important issues related to banks’ environmental management as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility were raised, such as:
- How climate change affects the banking sector
- The integration of environmental criteria in credit policy
- Examples of green banking products
- How environmental risk management can reduce a bank’s operating risks
- Guidelines for environmental risk assessment
- How corporate social and environmental policies can affect share value
- Publication of corporate social responsibility reports, under the Global Reporting Initiative.
UNEP FI Director General, Mr. Paul Clements-Hunt, was the meeting’s moderator. Speakers included the representative of the European Commission’s General Directorate for Environment, Mr. Jorge Pinto Antunes, Eurobank’s General Manager, Mr. N. Pavlidis, the Deputy General Manager of Emporiki Bank, Mr. E. Athanasiou, as well as other experts. It should be noted that Eurobank and Emporiki Bank are the only Greek banks that are members of UNEP FI.
UNEP FI is a global partnership between the United Nations Environment Porgramme – UNEP and the world financial sector. UNEP FI was established in 1992 and has more than 160 members today – banks, insurance companies, investment companies, etc. – from over 45 countries. UNEP FI is the largest voluntary world partnership on sustainability issues between the world financial system and the international community of states, aimed at promoting and disseminating best sustainability practices at all levels of financial institutions operations.
In his speech, Mr. Nikos Pavlidis stressed among other things that “for Eurobank EFG Group, environmental protection constitutes a core value and is part of its broader strategy aimed at contributing to the community in which it operates and at supporting with the resources at its disposal, major sectors such as Culture, Education, Sports and now the Environment. Social contribution forms an integral part of the Bank’s strategy as we believe that a dynamic and successful organization should be actively involved in and contribute creatively to social developments. For the environmental sector in particular, Eurobank EFG has adopted an official Environmental Policy, committing to reduce the direct effects of its operation on the environment, as well as the indirect effects from the activities of its clients and suppliers. In this context, Eurobank EFG has developed “green” products for small and medium-sized enterprises and has also introduced, since 2004, environmental criteria for its loan evaluation procedure. At the same time, the Bank is promoting environment-related actions such as the“Learn, Participate, Protect – Parnitha National Reserve” project, in cooperation with WWF Hellas. For its environmental activities, Eurobank has been certified with ISO 14001 while in May 2006 it was awarded the third prize for its Environmental Management System by the Greek Association of Environmental Protection Companies.”
Finally, it should be noted that since 2001 Eurobank EFG share is included on FTSE4Good Europe and FTSE4Good World indices.