Singapore – A new guide released today by WWF explains how banks can go beyond reputation and risk management to embrace transformative change. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Integration for Banks: A Guide to Starting Implementation
shows how financial institutions acting as lenders, financial advisors and capital raising agents can adopt sustainable practices.
"This is the first guide that maps out 'how to' steps for financial institutions in the earlier stages of their ESG journey. It shows them how to manage their risk exposure to unsustainable business practices and lead the trend toward green business," said Jeanne Stampe, WWF Asia Finance and Commodities Specialist.
Banks can no longer ignore credit risks brought on by severe weather patterns impacting infrastructure or agricultural production, water stress affecting production across sectors, or regulations that affect the value of carbon assets or carbon-related infrastructure. Banks increasingly need to adapt to these emerging challenges through sustainable solutions.
The guide provides banks with a toolkit to develop an ESG strategy and an operational framework to integrate ESG issues into their practices. This is an expertise that financial institutions across Asia are seeking with urgency.
Ben Ridley, Asia Pacific Head of Sustainability Affairs at Credit Suisse commented: "Credit Suisse is proud to sponsor this guide. It provides Asian banks with the background, knowledge and tools to develop a strategy and action plan to embed consideration of key ESG issues into their core business."
"The call to address environmental concerns has grown increasingly louder over time. Businesses, whether upstream or downstream, need to work together to do what is right and banks can play a significant role in promoting sustainability. While change will not happen overnight, the WWF guide can serve as a roadmap to provide insights on how ESG issues can be integrated into business processes to achieve this purpose," said Samuel Tsien, Chairman of The Association of Banks in Singapore.
Singapore Exchange (SGX) will be hosting the first in a series of WWF-organized workshops to discuss the key ESG issues facing the banking sector. The workshop will also demonstrate how ESG risk management can be integrated into their own institutions using WWF's guide as a roadmap. The workshop will be run in partnership with The Association of Banks in Singapore and Singapore Business Federation on 9 September 2014.
Magnus Böcker, CEO of SGX and Chairperson of the company's Sustainability Committee, said: "SGX is delighted to support WWF in its efforts to raise awareness on Environmental, Social, and Governance issues. This guidebook parallels efforts SGX has made with its own Sustainability Reporting Guide for listed companies. Together with like-minded parties including WWF, SGX hopes more corporate leaders will embrace sustainability including diversity and governance.""SBF is delighted to support WWF's Environmental, Social, and Governance Integration Guide. The knowledge and expertise provided will have significant influence on the wider business community," said Ho Meng Kit of the Singapore Business Federation.
"SBF actively promotes the sustainability agenda through many programmes - such as its flagship Singapore Sustainability Awards - and welcomes WWF's initiative to promote ESG in the financial sector."