Nedbank's green roots go deep
The recent recognition of the Nedbank Group as South Africa’s Top Green Company in the 2009 Ask Afrika Trust Barometer survey has reaffirmed the fact that Nedbank enjoys widespread recognition as the nation’s truly ‘green” bank.
The ‘green” accolade is one of many garnered by Nedbank recently and recognises the tangible results being achieved by the banking group through its focus on environmental preservation and awareness as a key component in its sustainable business efforts.
This ‘green bank” reputation has been about 20 years in the making and started in 1990—long before green became a modern business buzz word.
Nedbank recognised the important role that banks have to play in preserving South Africa’s natural heritage for future generations, and it acted on this insight by partnering with WWFSA in establishing the Green Trust and the Nedbank Green Affinity programme.
In the almost two decades since, Nedbank has provided almost R100-million in financial support to this essential environmental conservation initiative through its Nedbank Green Affinity programme, which enables its clients, at no additional costs, to contribute towards the environment simply by using Green Affinity-linked banking, insurance and investment products.
In 2005, this relationship between Nedbank and WWF was cemented further through the formation of a conservation partnership in which the bank continues to fund WWF projects and WWF provides valuable input into Nedbank’s environmental and sustainability policies and practices.
One of Nedbank’s primary areas of environmental focus is climate change. Although the direct effect of financial institutions on climate change may be less than that of businesses in the manufacturing or mining industries, the group feels it has a role to play in promoting and encouraging environmentally friendly business operations.
As such, Nedbank has committed itself to raising awareness of these issues among its staff, clients, suppliers, as well as its business and government partners—particularly the need to conserve South Africa’s biodiversity, energy and water resources.
To this end, the Nedbank group recently became the first South African bank to formalise its response to climate change with the development of its official Climate Change Position Statement, which is supported by aggressive energy, waste, water, paper and carbon reduction targets that now form part of individual and group-wide balanced scorecard performance measurements.
The implementation of the Nedbank Group Climate Change Position Statement across the group is carefully managed by the bank’s transformation and sustainability committee, which is mandated to monitor and inform environmental and social investment policies.
An environmental monitoring committee ensures that the various environmental initiatives across the group’s diverse businesses are coordinated and maximise synergies to enable a more unified and effective approach.
In addition to aligning its environmental policy with the government’s environmental protection and climate change mitigation strategies, Nedbank was also the first South African bank to join the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiatives and subscribe to the Equator Principles—international guidelines for socially responsible and environmentally sound financing.
In keeping with its reputation as the nation’s green bank, the Nedbank Group not only strives to ensure the environmental friendliness of its immediate operations, it also seeks opportunities to lead the charge in terms of environmental awareness across Africa. This commitment saw the group join forces with a number of African governments, businesses and non-governmental organisations in 2008 to form the African chapter of the Prince’s Rainforests Project.
The project brings together stakeholders across the continent to find practical ways to halt deforestation in Africa. Of course, the group also recognises that sound environmental practices begin at home, which is why Nedbank promotes social and environmental volunteerism among its 29 000-strong staff complement.
The group runs two primary volunteer programmes that allow staff members to become involved, either individually or in teams, with charity or conservation organisations.
Nedbank’s annual Deep Green Day is named after the bank’s aspiration to be ‘highly involved in communities and the environment” and sees staff around the country undertaking environmental and community projects through the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (Wessa)/WWF eco-schools programme.
This year’s event, which took place on September 4, afforded employees the opportunity to volunteer for a variety of environmental projects, from building vegetable garden tunnels and installing rainwater harvesting tanks to assembling parabolic solar cookers at 40 underprivileged schools across South Africa.
Nedbank has been involved in funding the eco-schools programme through the Nedbank Green Affinity/Green Trust programme since 2004.
The group also offers an extensive eLearning programme that focuses on giving employees an understanding of their effect on the environment and ways in which to limit it through an
awareness of, among others, the need for energy and water efficiency and effective waste recycling.
Although the Nedbank Group is justifiably proud of its ‘green” status, it is also aware that environmental management will always be a non-negotiable requirement for sustainable corporate performance.
As such, though it aspires to ever greater heights of business success, Nedbank understands that these cannot be achieved without roots that remain firmly anchored in the earth.