Can a bank go green?

Written by Lucrezia Zito

As a consequence of the Global Financial and Economic Crisis, the topic of responsibility of banks towards society has received significant attention. Decisions driven by short-term profit maximization, risky lending practices and even more risky derivatives have dented the confidence in the financial sector. So it’s no surprise that according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, the financial service continue to be the least trusted industry globally. This is what all of us know, but there is much more going on in the financial sector and great examples come from a continent that has still a huge unexpressed potential: Africa. 

Few weeks ago I was leafing through my favourite magazine, Internazionale, when I found an article about a South Africa’s bank called Nedbank. What caught my attention was a picture showing a billboard saying: “Only one bank can truly call itself the Green Bank”. I started reading the article and I found out it was the first example of solar powered billboard and it was providing the energy for a local school. Definitely it was a brilliant idea, but at the same time, I was wondering if it was just a marketing strategy. I discovered that the bank has found itself on the winners’ podium for more than one time at the annual Financial Times Sustainable Banking Awards. That’s not just about a billboard. The bank is trying to achieve carbon neutrality opening bank branches powered entirely by renewable energy, a move that is the first of this kind in Africa. Its branches use a hybrid power installation of solar and wind energy that should lower the total emission of CO2 in South Africa by 71 tonnes per year (per branch).
So give a look to their website and understand that their engagement in CSR is far more than a marketing tool, it’s part of their core strategy.