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Why a sustainable bank is a successful bank

by Torry Berntsen, CEO Europe and Americas, Standard Chartered

Like every business, Standard Chartered operates in a world which is changing fast, creating new opportunities and challenges.

The sustainability revolution is the greatest challenge facing us as a business and as a society, yet it represents a significant opportunity. If we want a prosperous future then creating a greener, fairer, more inclusive world is a commercial imperative.

Finance is a key lever in reaching this goal – helping economies leapfrog to low- carbon technology and accelerating inclusion through digital solutions. Finance can also help people build a more positive future for themselves and their families, and as they grow, so do we.    

As a bank, it is no longer a choice between profit and planet. It is about helping customers and clients today in a way which safeguards future generations, and ensuring a balance is struck between economic growth, social welfare and environmental protection. A sustainable bank is a successful bank – one which is fit for today and the future. 

Our markets across Asia, Africa and the Middle East are most at risk from climate change and wider ESG threats. Despite creating the greatest marginal impact per dollar invested, they only receive a fraction of the capital flows urgently needed. With the financing gap running into the trillions, they also represent a huge untapped investment opportunity.

This is why we are supporting a new railway in Tanzania. Not only will it promote economic growth by cutting freight costs by 40 percent and create 8,000 jobs, but it will also reduce greenhouse emissions, removing 500 lorries from the road and providing greater social equality through improved access to essential public services.

It is also why we have mobilised financing to develop and improve water infrastructure in Angola – providing better access to drinking water for over two million residents in the capital, Luanda. 

The world is less than a decade away from its 2030 deadline to deliver on the UN Sustainability Goals but despite sustainable finance coming of age and progress being made in lifting people out of poverty, providing better access to healthcare and electricity and closing the gap on gender equality – not enough has been done to hit the targets.   

We all have a responsibility to address these challenges by changing the way we operate and by helping our communities make a difference. Standard Chartered is well placed to help get finance to where it matters most and we encourage our clients and customers to join us in our push for a better world.

As published in The European magazine, Spring 2022