Press Releases

Banks Gain Competitive Edge through Sustainability-Oriented Risk Management and Product Development, Says New IFC Publication “Banking on Sustainability”

In Washington, DC:
Lucie Giraud

Phone:  +1 (202) 458-4662


Washington, D.C., March 26, 2007 – IFC (International Finance Corporation), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, issued today a publication entitled “Banking on Sustainability,” which demonstrates that banks that integrate environmental, social, and governance concerns into their business strategy and seek out opportunities in those fields add value to their business.

The publication provides practical examples of 14 financial institutions in 12 countries that have taken concrete steps to integrate sustainability into their policies, practices, products, and services.

“While detailing the evidence of potential benefits for banks in integrating sustainability into their business strategy, the report reveals a dramatic shift in banks’ awareness of these benefits,” said Rachel Kyte, IFC Director of Environment and Social Development.

In a 2005 IFC survey, 86 percent of 120 financial institutions interviewed reported positive changes as a result of steps they had taken to integrate social and environmental issues in their business.

“There are real opportunities for banks in reaching previously unserved segments of the market, including women entrepreneurs or energy efficiency projects,” said Jyrki Koskelo, IFC Director for Global Financial Markets. “The publication provides a tool for banks to recognize these opportunities.”

The report shows how 14 financial institutions
       implemented social and environmental management systems

       developed innovative financial products to expand their business into areas related to social and environmental sustainability
       reaped positive business impact by integrating social and environmental considerations into their operations and investment decisions

Examples include Ceska Sporitelna, a bank in the Czech Republic that is leading the way in commercial financing for SME sustainable energy projects; Afriland First Bank, an African bank that is providing loans for environmental improvements in waste collection and treatment as well as microfinance for rural communities and women; and Nedbank, the first African bank to publish a sustainability report and adopt the Equator Principles.

Publication of the report was made possible by donor support from the governments of Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
 For more information, please visit

About IFC

IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, promotes open and competitive markets in developing countries. IFC supports sustainable private sector companies and other partners in generating productive jobs and delivering basic services, so that people have opportunities to escape poverty and improve their lives. Through FY06, IFC Financial Products has committed more than $56 billion in funding for private sector investments and mobilized an additional $25 billion in syndications for 3,531 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC Advisory Services and donor partners have provided more than $1 billion in program support to build small enterprises, to accelerate private participation in infrastructure, to improve the business-enabling environment, to increase access to finance, and to strengthen environmental and social sustainability. For more information, please visit