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position statements How we manage environmental and social risk

We help people and companies succeed, sustainably and responsibly

Our Values in Action Doing the right thing

We're committed to promoting economic and social development in the markets we serve, doing so sustainably and equitably in line with our purpose and three valued behaviours. Learn more about our Sustainability philosophy.

In everything we do, we’re guided by our brand promise Here for good.

This means that as we help people and companies succeed, we do so sustainably and responsibly, constantly asking ourselves how we can have a more positive impact on the world around us.

So to fully embed our values into our core working practices across the whole bank, we’ve developed a suite of detailed policy frameworks and position statements. These commitments impact everything from how we procure suppliers to how we’re helping to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and beyond.

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Our framework Leading international standards

For over 20 years, our cross-sector framework has helped us apply international standards and best practices across all of our markets. 

We work closely with NGOs, investors and technical specialists to ensure our framework remains fit for purpose, and we review it every two years to ensure that it reflects current industry best practice. 

View our framework

Cross-sector requirements Standards based on universal values

Whichever sector our clients work in, there is a minimum set of standards that we require them to meet in order to continue working with them. Read about each of our cross-sector criteria below.

We expect our clients to comply with all applicable local laws and regulations, as well as international conventions that their country has ratified.

We assess clients using the latest International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards as well as the Environmental, Health & Safety Guidelines which include issues around Biodiversity, Water and Cultural Heritage. 

We also expect clients to identify any potential environmental or social risks around a particular project, and show that they are managing these appropriately.  This includes complying with the Equator Principles – a risk management framework for assessing and managing environmental and social risk in project development.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites are globally recognised for their outstanding universal value, and we are committed to playing our part in protecting them.

We ensure we do not provide financial services to clients that have operations that adversely impact upon the Outstanding Universal Value of UNESCO World Heritage Sites or upon wetlands designated under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance


We assess the impact of our clients’ operations on forests,  and ensure that they won’t negatively impact High Conservation Value or High Carbon Stock forests, as well as peatland.

We are committed to respecting universal human rights. We assess our clients against the following international principles:

  • International Bill of Human Rights
  • International Labour Organisation (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
  • International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions 138 (Minimum Age) and 182 (Worst Forms of Child Labour)
  • UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the ‘Ruggie Principles’)
  • UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • UN Global Compact
  • Thun Group Guiding Principles: an interpretation for banks

We recognise that communities outside mainstream society may be especially vulnerable. If we believe that we are financing operations that may adversely impact indigenous peoples, we will:

  • appoint an independent social expert to determine the nature and scale of the potential impact
  • take key mitigation measures, guided by the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (as detailed in IFC Performance Standard 7)

We are committed to measuring, managing and reducing emissions associated with our financing of clients in support of aligning to net zero by 2050, by developing and consulting with shareholders, investors, clients, and civil society on a definition, methodology, targets and timeline.

Since 2018, we have demonstrated our progress through our Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (‘TCFD’) reports, and in our Emissions White Paper. Our December 2019 TCFD report introduced our new approach and restrictions for clients generating revenue from thermal coal, and the alignment of this approach to the Paris decarbonisation pathways.

Over time we intend to expand this work to cover other carbon-intensive sectors. During our biennial review of all the Bank’s Position Statements containing our environmental and social standards, we are developing sector-specific transition pathways/frameworks for the most carbon-intensive industries within our portfolio and considering which industry platforms or standards are relevant to support shared progress amongst our clients in our markets across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

We’re not doing this work alone; our partnerships with the 2 Degrees Investing Initiative and Imperial College are helping us understand sectoral pathways, and we are drawing on our longstanding engagement with civil society stakeholders.

We’re supporting our policies with our financial services via our dedicated Sustainable Finance team; when we announced our coal approach we released ambitious new targets to fund and facilitate USD35billion toward renewable energy between 2020 and 2024. As we develop transition approaches for other sectors, we will update policies and targets and make these publicly available.

We expect all clients (beginning with those in high-carbon sectors[1]) to have a public strategy to transition their business in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement[2] and we expect all clients (beginning with those in high-carbon sectors) to report their current greenhouse gas emissions[3] preferably in line with TCFD.

Our objective is simple. We consider climate change as one of the greatest challenges facing the world today, given its widespread and proven impacts on the physical environment, human health and its potential to adversely impact economic growth.  We will support our clients achieve a low-carbon just transition aligned to the Paris Agreement. Achieving this will take time and require action from all stakeholders, including clients, governments, and the financial sector – we are committed to playing our part, and enabling others to do so too.

You can find more detail in our climate change position statement. 

[1] Extractive Industries, Power Generation, Chemicals & Manufacturing, Infrastructure & Transport)

[2] The goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius

[3] Scope 1 and 2 at a minimum and Scope 3 where quantifiable

More on our position on climate change and human rights

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Climate change

We consider climate change as one of the greatest challenges facing the world today. See how we’re upholding our climate change commitments.

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Human rights

We use process, governance and due diligence to avoid infringements to human rights, in our role as an employer, as a procurer of goods and services, and in the services we offer. 

Position statements How we work with clients in sensitive sectors

To help us maintain our environmental and social standards, we use these position statements to assess whether to provide financial services to clients operating in sensitive business sectors.

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Extractive industries

Our approach to the oil, gas, mining and metals industries

Man adjusting solar panels

Power generation

Our approach to the power generation industry

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Our approach to the food, fishing and agricultural industries

Engineers reviewing building plans

Infrastructure & transport

Our approach to the infrastructure, transport and logistics industries

Female employee manufacturing car parts

Chemicals & manufacturing

Our approach to the chemicals and manufacturing industries

Prohibited activities

Our approach to sensitive sectors

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