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Sustainable banks need ‘courage’ to make inroads into the mainstream



In a meeting in Melbourne, the chair of the Global Alliance for Banking Values (GABV) has called on banks to act with “courage” to drive forward the sustainable banking movement.

Peter Blom, who is also CEO of Triodos Bank, said, “What it all comes back to I feel, it’s one: how do we deal with fear? And two: how do we find the courage?

We want to grow, we see the time needs us, the market needs us.”

The GABV is an alliance of 25 leading sustainable and ethical banks, which have combined assets of around $70 billion (£42.1 billion). Such banks, its research suggests, offer better returns on assets and provide more capital to the real economy than mainstream providers.

Melbourne acted as host for this year’s annual meeting, with delegates from across the world getting together to discuss key challenges within sustainable banking.

The aim of the meeting was to “find global solutions to international problems – and to promote a positive, viable alternative to the current financial system”, according to the GABV.

The ultimate goal is to have a positive impact on the lives of one billion people globally by 2020, using finance and impact investment as a means to drive those positive changes.

GABV membership is exclusive to banks whose assets are valued at more than $50m (£30.1m), are independent, have a commitment to retail customers and who place importance on social banking and the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.

Damien Walsh, managing director of Australia-based Bankmecu, said that sustainability should be the “core tenant” of the global financial and banking systems.

He said, “At our last conference last year, which was held in Berlin, we released a declaration to shift the industry towards transparency, diversity and sustainability in banking.”

“I think the first takeaway from this year is to continue to look at how we can put that declaration into action and ask what impacts we can have locally and globally”.

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) recently warned banks that failure to factor in sustainability in policies could result in “diminished returns”, saying that the benefits of doing so include long-term value for businesses, investors and customers.

Further reading:

Investment banks ‘could face diminished returns’ by failing to factor in sustainability

Prince of Wales launches financial sustainability network

FTSE: sustainability at the world’s leading investment index provider

FTSE’s ESG unit can “shed light” on responsible investment

FTSE launches new environmental index


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