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Bangladesh summit promises a different future for banking

06-03-2010 | Leaders of the world's sustainable banks come together to build a positive financial future for the banking industry, at the second meeting of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values.

As the world grapples with the continuing pain of the financial crisis, an independent network of eleven banks, will come together in Bangladesh to try to build a viable, sustainable future for the financial industry. Members of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) believe that they can demonstrate that a brave new future for the banking industry is possible, and that their members are already delivering it.

The banks, from wealthy and developing countries around the world, intend to grow sustainable banking globally. They are spending three days near Dhaka, working together to build a capital raising programme, develop an education programme to develop a new breed of sustainable bankers to handle the money they raise, and agree how they will have a greater influence on the mainstream financial industry.

The GABV, which uses finance to deliver sustainable development for unserved people, communities and the environment, represents seven million customers in 20 countries, with a combined balance sheet of over $14 billion. It has announced an ambitious commitment to support the expansion of $2 billion in lending to green projects and underserved communities around the world. And all this, in a country which many experts believe will be hit hardest and earliest by the impact of climate change.

Speaking at the launch of the second meeting of the GABV in Dhaka, Fazl Hasan Abed - co-founder of the GABV and founder and Chairperson of BRAC, one of the world's most successful microfinance banks, says: "The banking industry can be a key pillar in fighting climate change and building better livelihoods for millions of people across the developing world. In many ways Bangladesh is in the front-line. That is why we are delighted to host the banking industry's sustainability pioneers, because they have developed new banking models that can answer some of our biggest problems."

The GABV aims to raise $250 million in new capital by pooling the expertise and resources of its members. "Raising this money will result in $2 billion in new lending, at a time when credit continues to be scarce," said Peter Blom, Chair and co-founder of the GABV and CEO of Triodos Bank in the Netherlands. "The stakes are high. If we don't get people to listen, the potential impact for hundreds of millions of people in this part of the world alone, could be catastrophic. At the same time the opportunity is colossal. There is an enormous amount of positive work being done. A safe, sustainable future will only happen if we can develop a better financial system. Our network is collaborating to make that happen."

The banks operate in countries as diverse as Germany, Mongolia, Peru, and the US, and have weathered the financial storm with considerable success. According to Katrin Kaeufer, research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), they share a number of characteristics that could be adopted more widely to build a sustainable world economy. "Many of these banks have continued to be successful during the downturn. Before we return to business as usual it seems sensible to examine why. There's no one secret, but these banks all have sustainability embedded in everything they do. They are transparent, values-driven institutions that promise a genuinely different future for banking."

Notes for editors

The Global Alliance for Banking on Values is a group of banks using finance to build a more sustainable future for the environment and un(der)served people and sectors. It was launched in March 2009 by Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, and Achim Steiner Executive Director of UNEP.

For interviews with Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairman of BRAC, Peter Blom, Chair of the network, and CEO of Triodos Bank, Mary Houghton, President and Director of ShoreBank Corp or please contact:

James Niven on +31 (0)6 539 08150 or e-mail james.niven@gabv.org

Zeeshan Huq on +880 (17) 11540560 or e-mail zeeshan.huq@bracbank.com

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