23 September

Absa Group Limited today became one of the Founding Signatories of the Principles for Responsible Banking, committing to strategically align its business with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

By signing the Principles for Responsible Banking, Absa joins a coalition of 130 banks worldwide, representing over USD 47 trillion in assets, in committing to taking on a crucial role in helping to achieve a sustainable future.

Taking place at the start of the UN General Assembly, the official launch of the Principles for Responsible Banking marked the beginning of the most significant partnership to date between the global banking industry and the UN. “The UN Principles for Responsible Banking are a guide for the global banking industry to respond to, drive and benefit from a sustainable development economy.

The Principles create the accountability that can realize responsibility, and the ambition that can drive action.” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the launch event, attended by the 130 Founding Signatories and over 45 of their CEOs.

As expressed in the Principles for Responsible Banking, Absa is convinced that “only in an inclusive society founded on human dignity, equality and the sustainable use of natural resources can our clients, customers and businesses thrive”.

By signing up to the Principles, we commit to “using our products, services and relationships to support and accelerate the fundamental changes in our economies and lifestyles necessary to achieve shared prosperity for both current and future generations”.

“A banking industry that plans for the risks associated with climate change and other environmental challenges can not only drive the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient economies, it can benefit from it,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). “When the financial system shifts its capital away from resource-hungry, brown investments to those that back nature as solution, everybody wins in the long-term.”

The Principles for Responsible Banking are supported by a strong implementation and accountability framework. By signing them, Absa commits to being transparent on both our positive and negative impact on people and planet. Absa will focus where it has the greatest impact - in its core business - and set, publish and implement ambitious targets to scale up positive and address any negative impacts in line with global and local goals.

“We are very proud to be one of the first African banks to commit to the UNEP FI Principles for Responsible Banking,” said René van Wyk, CEO of Absa Group.

“We continue to include sustainability practices into our business, meeting a number of notable milestones in our pursuit of long-term value creation for clients, shareholders, and society as a whole.

“We acknowledge the social and environmental dilemmas facing our continent and our ability to responsibly influence all aspects of sustainability: economic, social, as well as environmental. With our declaration to the Principles for Responsible Banking, we affirm and express our willingness to assume an active leadership role in bringing about sustainable changes in Africa,” van Wyk said.

The Principles for Responsible Banking will provide Absa with an effective framework to systematically identify and seize new business opportunities created by the emerging sustainable development economy, while at the same time enabling the bank to effectively identify and address related risks.