Sustainability is the holistic approach that considers environmental, social, and economic dimensions, to deliver lasting prosperity.
A country’s prosperity and economic growth is greatly backed by the banking sector, and therefore, banks have a wider impact and responsibility in improving sustainability of society and environment, to pave a better future for next generations.
Sustainable banking implies carrying out banking operational and business activities, with conscious consideration for the environmental and social impacts of those activities.
Banks recognize the role they can play in the development of a more sustainable banking industry, and to help build a better future for their customers, their people, their shareholders and the broader community.
Banks are now increasingly implementing sustainable banking both in their internal daily operations (in terms of how they manage their physical branches/locations, human capital, costs, opportunities) and their activities relating to external interactions with their clients and the types of investment projects they fund. Also, banks increasingly shift from simply trying to manage their environmental and social risks to proactively seeking new opportunities presented by sustainability principles and using these to differentiate themselves in the market.
By incorporating sustainability principles into corporate strategy funding decisions and product/service definition processes, banks can be influential in supporting and promoting environmentally and/or socially responsible projects and enterprises. Innovative products and services that target certain populations or that encourage purchase of green products go a long way to promoting sustainable practices.
Although significant progress has been made by the banking sector as a whole, there are still opportunities to further improve sustainable banking practices, especially in funding low-carbon and climate-resilient projects, and integrate their sustainability strategies to their overall business plans.
As the urgency of the collective challenges of our time require concerted and ambitious action on all levels, the HFSF, as a strategic shareholder of the Greek systemic banks, considers it a top priority to play a leading role in the process of transition to a more sustainable banking. On that respect it has endorsed the UNEP-FI’s Principles for Responsible Banking which help banks align their business strategy with society’s goals. The six Principles provide the framework for a sustainable banking system and help the industry demonstrate its positive contribution to society.