True, some bankers are willing to take a stand on social issues such as the potential abuse of eminent domain. But there's a real leadership gap when it comes to looking at the big picture — social and environmental sustainability in lending.
Watchdog group BANKTrack rated 39 banks on the basis of 13 categories: human rights; labour rights; indigenous people; climate and energy; dams; biodiversity; forests; fisheries; extractive industries; sustainable agriculture; chemicals; transparency and reporting by the clients; and environmental and social management systems.
The highest overall average score, achieved by ABN AMRO and HSBC Group, was a 1.31, which if translated to a letter grade is a D+.
Robert Napier, WWF-UK Chief Executive, said:
"This report shows that whilst there has been some good work done by a few of the banks to develop policies the whole sector still has a long way to go. The lack of transparent policies can not only result in over-exploitation of environmental goods such as fisheries and forests but also in increased financial risk to the banks, resulting in transactions being jeopardised."
Search engine Google makes concessions to the Chinese government, and it makes the front pages of every business newspaper. But banks? A different (and lower) standard seems to apply.
BANKTrack press release Banks failing environment and social standards