Edging out 129 institutions across 54 countries, Brazil’s Banco Real was chosen as this year’s Sustainable Bank of the Year by London’s Financial Times and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Awards were given out to financial institutions operating with triple bottom line principles, incorporating social and environmental aims into their investment portfolios and business practices.
“When we initiated this process of inserting sustainability into our business,” according to a statement by the bank, “our aim was to build a new bank for a new society, and reinforce the role of banks generally as agents for economic and social development.” A subsidiary of Spain’s Banco Santander, Real has a product portfolio offering carbon credit solutions as well as fosters local development through microcredit initiatives.
Members of the judging panel included leaders in sustainable finance and development across the world, from the UK Business Editor of the Financial Times to the co-founder of the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment In Asia (ASrIA). According to the panel, Banco Real has a “radical vision for sustainability in Latin America… and applies sustainability practices across every aspect of its business.”
In addition to Bank of the Year, several other awards were given out, ranging from Sustainable Deal of the Year to Sustainable Emergent Markets Bank of the Year. The makeup of the award winners were significantly international, which in the eyes of Lars Thunell, Executive Vice President and CEO of IFC, demonstrates “the business case for sustainable banking remains strong, despite the current economic environment.” Thunell specific called attention to the success of banks in emerging markets, a category for which Banco Real was also awarded a regional award.
The awards were presented at a gala dinner in London, and were followed by a one-day Sustainable Banking Conference organized by the two sponsoring organizations.