Dubai, January 31, 2008 – Lars Thunell,
Executive Vice President and CEO of IFC, a member of the World Bank Group,
discussed sustainable banking today with the Middle Eastern banking community.
He explained how the integration of social, environmental, and corporate
governance objectives into financial institutions’ strategy can help them
better manage risks and create new investment opportunities.
Thunell spoke at a joint IFC and Financial
Times dinner, where banks discussed how they can make sustainability a
bigger focus of their operations. Thunell talked about the upcoming 2008
FT Sustainable Banking Awards and encouraged the region’s banks to submit
"More and more Banks are recognizing
that sustainability is a way of developing strong brand value and building
new business lines,” said Thunell. “Banks are differentiating themselves
by offering innovative sustainable financial products. These include loans
to women entrepreneurs, as well as microfinance or insurance for people
without access to financial services."
The FT Sustainable Banking Awards will focus
this year on the ‘bottom of the economic pyramid’, the 4 billion lower-income
people worldwide who together represent a $5 trillion market but who, for
the most part, have no access to financial services.
Sustainable banking is good business. Out
of 120 client commercial banks from 43 emerging markets that IFC surveyed
in 2005, almost 40 percent said that focusing on sustainability improved
their brand value and reputation. Some 48 percent cited better access
to international capital, while 35 percent developed new business lines
targeted to sustainability. Additionally, greater transparency and improvements
in organization and management can be advantages when a bank is looking
to expand into other markets or acquire other banks.
Attendees at the IFC-FT dinner also discussed
corporate governance as another opportunity for financial institutions.
An increasing body of research shows that private and public companies
benefit by adopting best practices in corporate governance.
“Greater transparency and improvements in
organization and management can be advantages when a bank is looking to
expand into other markets or acquire other banks,” added Thunell.
IFC and the Financial Times launched the
Sustainable Banking Awards in 2006 to encourage innovation in sustainability.
The awards recognize banks that have shown leadership and innovation in
integrating social, environmental, and corporate governance objectives
into their operations.
About the FT Sustainable Banking Awards
For 2008, applications are being accepted
in five categories.
Four of the categories -- Sustainable Bank
of the Year, Sustainable Deal of the Year, Award for Banking at the Bottom
of the Pyramid, and Sustainable Investor of the Year -- will each have
a shortlist of five finalists.
For the fifth category -- Emerging Markets
Sustainable Bank of the Year -- the winner will be chosen from among four
banks that are awarded prizes for regional leadership. The regions
are Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East/Africa.
The deadline for entries is February 29,
2008. Entry forms can be obtained at:
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters
sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private
sector investment, mobilizing private capital in local and international
financial markets, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services
to businesses and governments. IFC’s vision is that poor people have the
opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY07, IFC committed
$8.2 billion and mobilized an additional $3.9 billion through syndications
and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing countries.
IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries. For more information,