Six Turkish Banks To Become Pioneers For Creating A Sustainable Future

"The Principles for Responsible Banking” was launched in New York on September 22nd at the United Nations General Council meeting. The principles were created by the United Nations Environmental Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and have 130 Banks as the founder signatories. The total assets of these banks are over 47 $ trillion worldwide. Banks which have committed to apply “The Principles for Responsible Banking” include Garanti BBVA, ING, Development and Investment Bank of Turkey, Şekerbank, Industrial Development Bank of Turkey, and Yapı Kredi from Turkey. These banks have taken a responsibility in terms of sustainability that creates an example for all sectors in Turkey.

The banks that signed “The Principles for Responsible Banking” organized a joint press conference to draw attention to the topic and discussed how the banking sector to be transformed in all business processes and have a contribution for a sustainable future and society. This meeting was held by Garanti BBVA Executive Vice President Ebru Dildar Edin, ING Turkey Executive Vice President Öcal Ağar, Development and Investment Bank of Turkey Executive Vice President Satı Balcı, Şekerbank Executive Vice President Aybala Şimşek, Industrial Development Bank of Turkey Executive Vice President Ece Börü, and Yapı Kredi Board of Director Erkan Akbulut with the participation of Sabancı University Faculty Member and Director of Corporate Governance Forum Melsa Ararat.

“The Principles of Responsible Banking have been determined by the joint effort of banks which includes Garanti BBVA from Turkey”

Garanti BBVA, Executive Vice President Ebru Dildar Edin gave information on the subject. She said “Approximately 2 years ago, the United Nations Environmental Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) initiated a project for creating a mutual roadmap for the banks about this topic. They invited 30 banks from all over the world to define the Principles for Responsible Banking. The Principles for Responsible Banking were created as a result of mutual efforts of these banks including Garanti BBVA from Turkey. For approximately two years, we have worked to understand how we can bring the Principles of Responsible Banking to life by consulting to more than 500 stakeholders. We have launched the Principles for signature on September 22nd at the United Nations General Council. Around the time the signing was announced, 130 banks signed. These banks represent one third of the entire sector globally in terms of asset size. 6 banks which are sitting on this table have committed to comply with the Principles of Responsible Banking from Turkey.”

We are proud of being one of the 30 founding banks for contributing to the formation of the Principles of Responsible Banking”

ING representative Executive Vice President Öcal Ağar said, “As ING Group, we are proud to be one of the 30 founding banks contributing to the formation of the Principles of Responsible Banking. In last ten years, which we have prioritized sustainability, we have accepted the Equator Principles, which launched in 2003 and is prescribed to be implemented for the financing of projects amounting to more than 10 $ million. Also, we have created the Terra framework that we started implementing last year. In accord with the Terra framework, we prepared a road map for each sector to adapt to climate change and announced the first report that came out of this initiative. As ING Turkey, we pay attention to social responsibility and environmental risks during our project financing processes and we are moving in parallel with related principles. Finance sector, with its variety of sources, can enable us to make a difference in our path to sustainability. We believe that we should work with other banks to be successful fighting against the climate change. We support this transition process for a more sustainable world with our collaborative actions.”

“We are supporting the development of our country through projects that we have financed for 44 years and we continue to work with this mission.”

Executive Vice President of Development and Investment Bank of Turkey, Satı Balcı touched upon the importance of the Principles for Responsible Banking for a sustainable future and added, “as Development and Investment Bank our approach serves sustainable development and we finance projects which present this understanding. We are confirming our commitment for sustainable development and a sustainable future today by signing the Principles for Responsible Banking and we are taking a significant responsibility to accelerate our activities in regard to this.”

Satı Balcı also drawn attention to the depths of the sustainability approach, the titles it contains and to shaping future understanding of this consciousness. She also noted that sustainable approaches are gaining importance, new concepts are emerging, and there is more to come as the effects of climate change worsen. She added that she believes these signatures will deepen the sustainability efforts in the financial sector and play an important role in the formation of new concepts.

Aybala Şimşek: “We have a leading role in financing sustainable development for 66 years.”

Şekerbank Executive Vice President Aybala Şimşek underlined the potential transformative power of the Principles on the world economy as it was signed by one third of the banking world. Şimşek continued her words through; “The UNEP FI Principles for Responsible Banking is giving a global frame for all banks, however, all banks are expected to implement these Principles through their own strategy context.” As a Bank which has a pioneer role on financing of sustainable development for 66 years and as a pioneer in this field, we see responsible banking as a heritage that we have taken from Anatolian farmers who are the founders of our Bank. Thanks to the widespread structure of our loans and our extensive branch network in rural areas, we strive to increase the welfare of hundreds of thousands of households, support rural development, and production.”

Şimşek indicated that, with the first energy productivity financing product EKOkredi, there is more than TL 1 billion financing provided. Through this, approximately 109 thousand people benefited from energy saving, 6.4 million ton CO2 emission has been prevented, and 30 billion kw hour energy was saved. She also indicated that sustainable development is a significant opportunity for new alternative source acquisition for the sector and added “thanks to the success we have achieved with EKOkredi, we have acquired 45 percent of the foreign resources on our balance sheet to provide financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy investments..” Aybala Şimşek said. It is very important to combat climate change, and global finance sector has important missions to prevent ecosystem destruction. Within this scope, she said they have a mission to increase agricultural production and to encourage agriculture. Şimşek added, “ As a bank that has the establishment purpose of sustainable agriculture financing, we are working with our best for Turkey by supporting rural development and increasing agricultural production. In this context, we provided financing which is the first in Turkey. This financing is named “Aile Çiftçiliği Bankacılığı (Farmer Family Banking)”. As preventing the migration from the rural to the urban areas is determined as the main task, we provided financing worth of TL 8 billion and to 109 thousands farmer families. As a Bank, that allocate 58% of total loan portfolio to the SMEs and touching upon more than 350.000 farmers around Turkey, we will continue to improve our credit processes and we will continue to create value for people, society, and environment by generalizing access to financing and welfare.”

“Approximately three quarters of our loan portfolio is formed through investments around sustainability.”

Industrial Development Bank of Turkey Executive Vice President Ece Börü said “as a Bank which works with the mission of realizing sustainable and inclusive development for 70 years, we are providing financing for the investments that protect the future and we are measuring the environmental and social risks of all projects independent from monetary value. Today, 73% of our total loan portfolio is formed around the themes of renewable energy, energy and resource efficiency, environmental investments, women employment, supporting selected priority regions in development, and occupational health and safety. Besides funds that we provide from global development financing institutions, we are also creating additional sources for our investments through sustainable bonds that we pioneered in Turkey. As Industrial Development Bank of Turkey, I am happy to say we directly contribute to the 14 of 17 Sustainable Development Goals by our practices. As we are leaving behind our 10th year in carbon-neutral banking, we are creating a difference through our sustainable practices within our institution while supporting our country in transiting to a low carbon economy by the investments that we finance. Additionally, we find it very significant to see the joint action of the banks to create a financing understanding that will have a preventative effect on climate change and a protective effect on natural resources. In 2019, The Principles for Responsible Banking that came into life by the UNEP FI is a strong example born from this perspective.” She summarized their works on sustainability by expressing the importance of the issue and said “we are so happy that we have contributed in this power union as a founder signatory with the banks that are operating as a pioneer in Turkey and worldwide.”

“As Yapı Kredi, it is very meaningful for us to be a founder signatory for the Principles of Responsible Banking while we are celebrating our 75th Year.”

Yapı Kredi Board of Director Mehmet Erkan Akbulut made this evaluation; “it is very meaningful for us to comply with the Principles for Responsible Banking as a founder signatory while we are celebrating our 75th year. We are part of BIST Sustainability Index since 2014 and one of the signatories of Global Compact Turkey Declaration on Sustainable Finance since 2017. Besides that, we are sharing our environmental and social performance through our sustainability reports transparently with public since 2011. Therefore, the Principles for Responsible Banking is complementing our sustainability journey as Yapı Kredi. As founder banks, we want to response to the needs of society, our stakeholders, investors, clients, and especially the future generations as the signatories of the Principles for Responsible Banking. In this context, I believe that the Principles can serve as a guidance for all of our stakeholders and also to our bank and to the banking sector.

About the United Nations the Principles of Responsible Banking

The Principles are determining a road map for banking, which creates the two-thirds of global finance sector worldwide, for sustainable development and a better future. At the same time, the Principles are creating the basic frame of future sustainable banking system. In a sense, the Principles for Responsible Banking are defining and shaping the banking sector in the 21st century society and economy. The principles are targeting to maximize the impact of the banking sector aiming for an equal and prosperous future.

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