“Banking on Sustainability“
Financing climate-smart projects
As the largest bank in the Philippines in terms of assets, the full-service BDO Unibank, Inc. plays a critical role towards contributing to a low-carbon economy in the country, thanks to its financial resources, extensive operations and network, and access to millions of Filipinos and their communities. By incorporating sustainability into the way it does business and embedding environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles in making decisions, assessing relationships or creating products, BDO stays resilient and future ready.
BDO’s sustainability journey began in earnest in 2010 when the bank instituted its Sustainable Energy Finance (SEF) Program in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, to finance renewable energy, and energy-efficient projects. This partnership led to the establishment of the Social and Environmental Management System (SEMS) policy, making BDO one of pioneer private banks in the Philippines to adopt a SEMS policy. Through SEMS, the bank has been facilitating loans for clean and renewable energy sources by risk-categorising its corporate and commercial borrowing accounts according to their social and environmental impact. To date, the SEF Program has funded 50 projects that harnessed various renewable energy type including solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass with total capacity of 2,184 megawatts.
Among its noteworthy projects is the construction of the Zuellig building in 2012, the first green building in Makati City and the first in the Philippines to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification. LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world and Platinum is its highest level. (Recommend IBEC biomass project which was mentioned in our decade of milestones in SR 2020 instead of Zuellig.)
BDO scored another first in 2017 with the launch of a US$150 million green bond, the first such transaction by a commercial bank not just in the Philippines but also in the East Asia and Pacific region. Used exclusively to finance renewable energy projects, the green bond issuance helped strengthened BDO’s leadership in sustainability.
In 2020, BDO took its green and social impact financing to the next level with its Sustainable Finance Framework (SFF), aimed at issuing sustainable finance instruments and using the proceeds to finance eligible sustainable finance projects. Eligible projects are expected to reduce the country’s environmental footprint and assist in its transition towards a low-carbon economy while advancing its socioeconomic development. Aligning with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), SSF focuses on five key strategies:
The SFF received the accreditation of Sustainalytics, a global leader in ESG research and data based in New York, which described it as “credible and impactful” and one that aligns with the Sustainability Bond Guidelines of 2018, Green Loan Principles 2020, and the ASEAN Sustainability Bond Standards 2018. For BDO, this ringing endorsement strengthens its support for targeted and responsible projects that facilitate climate resilience and promote inclusive economic growth.
“It is only fair to expect big companies to do big things. BDO Unibank, Inc. does not disappoint. As the largest bank in the Philippines, it has been making some major moves with its strategies for the ultimate goal of a low-carbon economy.”
Shanggari Balakrishnan, Chief Executive Officer, MORS Group