HSBC Holdings plc, one of the world’s largest financial services companies, has created a new team to grow the company’s business in the sustainable development sector.
Group Sustainable Development will have two primary roles: Sustainable Risk Advisory and Sustainable Business Development. Its key objective will be to expand sustainability into HSBC’s mainstream operations, both from a risk and a business development perspective.
The unit will work closely with a number of HSBC’s customer groups, including Corporate, Investment Banking and Markets (particularly Project & Export Finance, Energy & Utilities Sector and Trade Services), Commercial Banking, Private Banking and Group Investment Business. It will also assume responsibility for the Group’s emerging microfinance strategy and, over time, look at developing retail financial products and services such as loans and mortgages for energy efficiency.
The unit, to be known as Group Sustainable Development, will report directly to Alan Jebson, Group Chief Operating Officer, bringing Board level responsibility for managing HSBC’s environmental impacts. A new senior executive position, Head of Group Sustainable Development, has been established to manage this function, and Jon Williams, formerly Head of Environmental Risk, has been appointed to this role.
Over the past 18 months, HSBC has made significant advances in addressing its own environmental impacts. Last year an Environmental Action Plan was approved which set out the broad framework to improve the management of the Group’s direct (e.g. property, purchasing) and indirect (e.g. lending, investment) impacts.
The Group’s Environmental Risk Strategy has also progressed, including implementing its commitments under the Equator Principles and establishing guidelines for sectors, such as forestry, freshwater and chemicals, that have potentially high environmental and social risks.
Stephen Green, HSBC’s Group Chief Executive said today: “As our understanding of the sustainability issues in various industry sectors has improved, it has become clear that there is a substantial market in environmental services, particularly in respect of climate change related technologies and the projects that deliver them, water infrastructure and sustainable forestry. We want to embed sustainability into our business approach and build a profitable business that positions the HSBC brand as a leader in these new and exciting markets. Sustainable Business Development is an essential element in our commitment – set out in our Managing for Growth strategy – to ensure that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is integral to our brand.”