A message from ESBG President Isidro Fainé on the renewal of Charter for Responsible Business
>> Read now: WSBI-ESBG Charter for Responsible Business
Originally published on 7 November 2017
Data released about growing inequality have given stark evidence that income gaps between groups in society have widened, poverty persists and climate change is a worrying prospect.
As policymakers and civil society debate the root causes, solving these challenges has proved elusive. Locally focused savings and retail banks are ideally placed to help.
Imbedded with a mind-set that values social commitment savings and retail banks in Europe have put to paper the “how" in an updated charter for responsible business. Recently approved by the board of directors of the European Savings and Retail Banking Group, the charter outlines seven areas that touch on the socio-political level to local level, weaving sustainable development and CSR into its member banks' core business.
First published in 2008, the new charter reaches beyond our “retail, regional, responsible" mantra and now aligns better our commitment to future challenges with those of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals formally accepted in 2015 by the UN General Assembly, showing how ESBG members already contribute to them. Besides, ESBG is a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact as well as its sister global body WSBI. In an oftentimes short-term-focused world, the charter lays the foundations for long-term action. It adds a 'digital dimension' that addresses innovation and the need to adapt to new realities, placing focus on client protection, harnessing inclusion and tackling exclusion in multiple ways.
Banks have a big impact on society, always have. Most citizens and policymakers know this and have expectations about the crucial role banks play and expect 21st century banking to address today's societal challenges. By following the charter, savings and retail banks can help society become better, more equitable, healthy and prosperous. They will do this by closing the financial and economic exclusion gap, expanding microfinance, unleashing more SME finance and managing better environmental impact.
We hope the charter sends a strong signal to stakeholders that savings and retail banks carry and build on the values that have kept our banking model at the centre of locally focused banking for generations.
In today's complex world, too much remains at stake for ESBG member banks not to renew their pledge to address the big challenges that face us all in coming decades. The young, the financially excluded, the economically marginalised – and the planet too – depend on it.