East Africa’s largest commercial bank KCB and South Africa's Absa said on Monday they had joined leading global financial institutions in launching principles for responsible banking at the United Nations headquarters, with 130 banks collectively holding US$47-trillion in assets signing up.
By participating at the launch, ahead of a climate action summit in New York, KCB committed to strategically aligning its business with the UN's sustainable development goals and the Paris agreement on climate change.
"In KCB Group the Principles remind us of the reason we exist as an institution and we purpose to work with our stakeholders to shape a sustainable future for the next generation,” the bank's chief operating officer Samuel Makome said.
"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."
In a separate statement, Absa said it was 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”.
"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."
Executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme Inger Andersen said a banking industry that planned for the risks associated with climate change and other environmental challenges would not only drive, but also benefit from the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient economies.
"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," Andersen said.
KCB said the principles for responsible banking would provide the group with an effective framework to systematically identify and seize new business opportunities created by the emerging sustainable development economy, while also enabling the bank to effectively identify and address related risks.