Socially responsible banking is part of WSBI and ESBG members' DNA. A strong commitment to sustainable development, members place corporate social responsibility (CSR) as an integral part of their business. They hold values outlined by the Three "Rs": retail, regional, responsible​.

A sustainable banking model: crucial to financing the real economy

A sustainable banking model provided by embedded CSR and sustainable development practices is crucial to financing the real economy, leading the way to a competitive social market economy. Against this backdrop, WSBI-ESBG advocates continuing with its engagement in all relevant CSR initiatives at European level and international level, so as to contribute to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, approved by the UN General Assembly in 2015. The development of CSR should be led by enterprises themselves, as they are best placed to design a sustainable strategy according to their business model, their needs, their positive impacts, and the expectations of their partners. Collaboration with other stakeholders in these endeavours remains key. In addition, WSBI-ESBG believes that a level playing field in the adoption of responsible practices is key, making it the responsibility of all entities and not only of the business community. In addition to this respect, prescriptive regulatory frameworks should be avoided when fostering CSR, as this would hamper social innovation, a driver of CSR and sustainable development.

There is a need to consider the longer term where environmental, social and governance initiatives can fulfil their maximum potential. Long-termism is necessary to create a sound basis for sustainable growth (EU growth agenda), and should be envisaged in reporting, investments, risk assessment etc. In this respect, governments should include ESG factors in their own policies: government investment, public policies, etc. There is a growing understanding of the benefits that reporting on non-financial issues can have. However, reporting should remain flexible and the choice of each business according to its needs and strategy.

WSBI-ESBG members play an important role in territorial cohesion as well as being important actors in the preservation of the diversity of the financial system. Therefore a reinforced role, benefitting from the application of the principle of proportionality, is the way forward to be able to contribute to accomplish the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy: smart, inclusive and sustainable growth, and the 2030 Global Sustainable Development agenda, and the 17 UN SDGs.

​ESBG position

WSBI-ESBG has a firm commitment to continue to work towards creating welfare, raising awareness, identifying trends and creating opportunities for dialogue, engaging with other stakeholders and bringing forward its members’ responsible business model. WSBI-ESBG strives to participate in all relevant EU and international initiatives and fora, adding its value and longstanding experience in the field.


WSBI-ESBG members have an embedded social commitment to the communities and regions in which they operate. This is an integral part of their identity and one of their distinctive features. WSBI-ESBG members ​contribute to the improvement of living conditions, supported local economic development and build​ greater social cohesion in their local communities. In most countries today, this commitment to society is one of the pillars of a broader and comprehensive CSR approach, which is reflected in banking activities and professional practices. Thus WSBI-ESBG members’ involvement stretches from financial inclusion and financial education projects to environmental action, preservation of cultural heritage, fair and clear relations with customers, engagement with stakeholders, etc. WSBI-ESBG members embody a “stakeholder” model, seeking to bring value and return to the whole community of stakeholders which surrounds them, including investors, suppliers, customers, employees and the local community in which they operate. Moreover, WSBI-ESBG members’ commitment to social responsibility is greatly supported by a substantial contribution to philanthropic activities which amounted to around €1.7 billion, according to the latest yearly data of the institute. Through a series of philanthropic investments, WSBI-ESBG members are driven by the conviction that alongside their banking and financial activities and traditional intermediation role, they also have a social responsibility.

WSBI-ESBG is actively involved in the debate on CSR and sustainable development practices at European and international levels. By way of example, WSBI-ESBG has recently become a Supporting Institution of the United Nations Environmental Programme for Finance Institutions. In addition, WSBI-ESBG pays a lot of attention to all European Commission developments that manage to mainstream responsible practice in businesses, including its financing growth and sustainable finance strategy, or its work to implement the SDGs at Union level. Sustainable Development Goals. In these areas, WSBI-ESBG contributes its expertise to the work of policymakers and standard setters. >>View WSBI-ESBG and members’ contribution to the ​SDGs.