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Our Commitment to
Sustainability

At Commercial Bank, Sustainability ranks high on our agenda among our top business priorities; Sustainability has always been central to our philosophy and is entwined in our culture and in how we conduct business.

As defined by the Bruntland Commission, ‘Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. As a leader in country’s banking sector, the Board of Directors and Management recognize our position of responsibility as a financial institution in influencing and shaping the transition to a more sustainable green, and inclusive economy.
We remain steadfastly committed to play a lead and active role in enabling and facilitating sustainable growth across our business undertakings, our operations, our engagements with stakeholders and the markets we serve.

We constantly make every effort to proactively identify and integrate Sustainability principles within our business strategies and operations to minimise risks and to leverage opportunities towards generating value not just for the Bank but for all our stakeholders, including society as a whole. We have pioneered the adoption of many such sustainable best practices in our operations and our business undertakings through different business units across the Bank. Consistent recognition received by the Bank for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance both at the local and global stage thus bears testimony to the Bank’s commitment to Sustainable Development.

 


Our Sustainability Purpose

“To be a responsible financial services provider by enabling and empowering people, enterprises and communities towards environmentally-responsible, socially-inclusive and economically-enriching growth “


Our Purpose Statement resonates Commercial Bank’s Sustainability commitments and undertakings, i.e.,

  • As the largest private Bank, we recognize our responsibility to influence and shape the country’s transition to a sustainable and inclusive economy.
  • We are committed to enabling sustainable growth across our business undertakings, our own operations and our engagements with all stakeholders.
  • We take steps to integrate Sustainability principles within our business operations to minimize risks and leverage opportunities for shared value creation

Our Sustainability Approach 

Our approach to Sustainability is organized along a three-pillar structure, focusing our Sustainability activities across three overarching themes, anchored in the Bank’s strategic business-alignment, a responsible organization culture and our responsibilities beyond our business undertakings.

 

ComBank’s 3-Pillar Approach to Sustainability


Our Sustainability approach is guided by:

  • Central Bank of Sri Lanka Sustainable Finance Roadmap
  • Sustainable Banking Principles of the Sri Lanka Banks’ Association
  • United Nations Global Compact Principles
  • UN Sustainable Development Goals

How sustainability aspects are infused into our day-to day business practices:

  • Integrating Sustainability considerations within decision making processes and business activities
  • Incorporating ESG due diligence into lending activities and financing decisions so as to identify and manage the bank’s exposure to ESG risks of clients, ensuring responsible financing decisions that create positive ESG outcomes for both the client and the bank.
  • Advancing the transition to a green economy by mobilizing capital investments and offering financing solutions towards resource-efficient, low-carbon, inclusive industries and solutions. 
  • Building social equity through financial Inclusion of traditionally excluded by extending access to affordable financial services in a responsible and sustainable manner, and improving Financial Literacy of underserved communities
  • Managing and controlling the direct environmental risks and impacts resulting from the Bank’s operations, including energy use, paper consumption, waste management, water usage, etc.
  • Upholding standards and principles for safe and fair labour practices and working conditions for employees. 
  • Implementation of CSR activities focused on education, healthcare and environment conservation.
  • Empowerment of women through targeted strategic banking initiatives.
  • Instilling sustainability values in business partners including suppliers and ensuring their conformity to the Bank’s specified standards of conduct.
  • Leveraging innovative technologies to bring increased convenience to customers through digital banking channels.

Compliance

We are strongly committed in ensuring that our operations, business engagement and activities, projects and products comply with all requisite environmental, social and governance standards, laws and regulations as stipulated by the industry, applicable local, national or international authority.

Memberships

The Bank holds memberships in the following national and international associations as a means to reinforce our commitment and actively contribute to collective efforts towards sustainable development. These affiliations have guided us on developing and refining our approach to manage the opportunities and challenges of our focus areas.

Association / Initiative Capacity
1 Sustainable Banking Initiative of the Sri Lanka Bankers’ Association (SL-SBI) Core Group member since inception of the Initiative
2 United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Click here to view Our Commitment to the UN Global Compact 1)      Signatory to the UN Global Compact Principles
2)      Steering Committee member of the UNGC Sri Lanka network
3 Business and Biodiversity Platform Sri Lanka Patron Member organization


Support for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

As a leading banking institution, we are also committed to support the global mandate in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the year 2030, agreed on by 193 countries. Based on a process of principled prioritisation, we have identified the following SDGs as most aligned to the Bank’s ethos:

By committing our support to these selected SDGs that most closely align with our work, we believe we can focus our efforts better to realise maximum positive impact in these areas. 

 

Position Statement on Climate Change - Year 2020/2021

Background

After decades of research, strong consensus has emerged within the world’s scientific community that human influence, particularly the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, has been the dominant cause of observed warming in the global climate system since the mid-20th century. Furthermore, continued growth in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is likely to cause further climatic changes, which are projected to lead to continued sea-level rise, changes in precipitation patterns, and more frequent hot temperature extremes over most land areas. These potential changes present enormous economic, social, and financial implications for economies around the world. (IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)

The Paris Agreement brings all nations across the Globe into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects. The aim of Paris Agreement is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. (UNFCCC – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)

The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts through nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. To reach these ambitious goals in line with National objectives, new technology frameworks, enhanced capacity building frameworks and appropriate financial flows need be put in place.


Scope

Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC position statement on climate change is applicable to all the Branches and Departments of the Bank regardless of their geographic location.

Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc Approach/Principles 

Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC (herein referred as the Bank) is a leading private bank which provides banking services to several jurisdictions in the Asian region. The bank firmly believes that;

  • Natural resources are finite and need to be used sustainably
  • The transition to a low-carbon economy is essential and systematic transition can not only bring substantial benefits to the planet earth but lead to business and economic growth opportunities.
  • It is imperative that global warming is limited to well below 2degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial level, as committed to the Paris Pledge for Action.

The main geographic locations that the Bank operating; Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Myanmar are Nations with ambitious NDCs to limit the GHG emissions for climate change mitigation. The Bank has duly identified its role in providing private sector financial support to its customers and subsidiaries in mitigating climate change effects through “Climate Financing”.

Even with the current levels of GHG in the atmosphere, changes in the climate are likely and will impose serious consequences to many sectors in economies. Therefore adaptive actions are necessary in addition to the efforts made to mitigate climate change. Further Asia is regularly identified as one of the regions hardest hit by Climate and hence adaptation to effects of climate change through support to climate resilient agriculture, water resources management and disaster risk management etc. are priorities. Accordingly, the Bank assesses climate risks and opportunities associated with banking activities and integrate climate adaptation considerations to the Banking operations/ product and service offerings.

“Climate Financing” is a subset of the Bank’s broader approach of “Green Financing” that is financing the investments that provide “Climate and environmental benefits” (Please refer Fig.1 for linkage between Green and Climate financing definitions adopted from UNEP FI). In 2017 with the development of the Bank’s Green Financing Strategy, it firmly paved the Bank’s commitment to integrate the Climate Change consideration into governance, strategy, risk management and external reporting requirements under this vast subject scope.

 

Fig.1. Linkages between climate, green and sustainable finance (adopted from UNEP Inquiry 2016)

 

Implementation

  • Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC will proactively incorporate climate factors into the due diligence of customer proposals. The Bank is in the process of continuous development of procedures and tools to identify climate risks and opportunities in such proposals.  By helping clients to limit climate related risks will result lower financial risk for them and for the Bank’s portfolio. 
  • The Bank’s “Climate/Green finance “refers to the amounts committed by the Bank to finance climate change mitigation, adaptation and environmental beneficial activities in the financing projects within territories the Bank is operating; Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Myanmar. 
  • Climate financing is more than the volumes alone. The Bank seeks maximum effectiveness by supporting activities with highest climatic impact. Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC have developed its own list of activities eligible for “Green financing” adhering to the internationally accepted classifications on climate mitigation /adaptation and environmental beneficial activities for finance. This policy/position statement is in conjunction with the Bank’s Green Finance Strategy and internal circulars defining eligibility criteria. 
  • The Bank has prioritized attention to sectors associated with high GHG emissions. Currently the energy sector is responsible for 73% of Global GHGs and hence the Bank has adopted the policy to restrict its lending to the coal-based power generation and Coal Related Activities*.

*Coal related activities
Coal related projects refer to long term (>36 months) project finance and/or corporate finance for the development of new coal-related projects including coal mining, coal transportation, as well as infrastructure services exclusively dedicated to support any of these activities, and coal-fired power plants. It excludes captive coal-fired power plants used for industries such as the cement and chemical industries.

  • Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC will develop innovative climate finance solutions. The Bank commits to grow Green/Climate financing portfolio to be 3% of the Bank’s total loan book by 2025. The Bank’s Climate/Green finance commitments may come from the Banks own funds and/or from the external sources channeled through and managed by the bank. 
  • Global, regional and National policies and legislations on climate change and environment are rapidly changing. Hence, the Bank will be kept updated and aware on
    • Regional, National and sector policies/planning/action plans/ institutions dedicated to climate actions such as NDCs and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions.
    • Energy sector policies and regulations leading to climate change mitigation or the mainstreaming of climate action, such as energy efficiency standards or certification schemes; energy efficiency procurement schemes; renewable energy policies, power market reforms to enable renewable energy etc.
    • Other policy and regulatory activities, including those in non-energy sectors, leading to climate change mitigation or mainstreaming of climate action, such as fiscal incentives for low-carbon vehicles, sustainable afforestation standards etc. 
  • The Bank will provide Education, training, capacity-building and awareness-raising on climate change mitigation and related subjects to the Bank staff and the customers. 
  • The Bank will periodically review and update the policy/position statement to meet the requirements of policy makers, regulators, customers and stakeholders. 
  • The Bank duly considers the requirements of Financial Institutions/shareholders/Investors to integrate climate considerations in the investment proposals.


Managing Direct Climate Impacts

The Bank has not outweighed the importance of its direct climate impacts arising from banking operation. The Bank has therefore committed to reduce its own Carbon footprint and analyze the climate risks to business and hence to take appropriate mitigation measures. 


Reporting and Disclosure

  • The Bank’s Green/Climate Finance approach is guided and supported by National /International standards and principles such as
    • Roadmap for sustainable Finance in Sri Lanka (April,2019), Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL)
    • Sustainable Banking principles, Sri Lanka Banks Association (SLBA)
    • Guidelines on Environmental and Social Risk Management (ESRM) for Banks and Financial Institutions in Bangladesh (February,2017), Sustainable Finance Department, Bangladesh Bank.
    • IFC performance Standards
    • UN Global Compact principles 
  • The impact of the Green/Climate financing of the Bank is calculated using the international accepted online platform developed by IFC; the CAFI (Climate Assessment for Financial Institutions) tool. CAFI covers seven categories, defined as renewable energy, energy efficiency, special climate, green buildings, transport, water efficiency and adaptation. The Bank will report on the Green /Climate Financing Exposure and the impact of financing in the annual report from year 2021. 
  • Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC reports its own Carbon foot print data in the annual report adhering to the ISO 14064-1:2018.


Notes

Climate change:

Refers to large-scale changes in weather patterns over a long period. In particular, the rise in the average global temperature apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards that is attributed to increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, primarily carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels (also known as global warming). In the context of this policy, the focus is on the potential negative impacts of climate change on an organization, and on the impact of that organization’s activities on the environment.

Climate change risk:

 Includes physical and transition risks:

  • Physical risks arise from the physical effects of climate change on businesses’ operations, workforce, markets, infrastructure, raw materials and assets. Physical risks emanating from climate change can be event-driven (acute) such as increased severity of extreme weather events (e.g. cyclones, droughts, floods, and fires). They can also relate to longer term (i.e. chronic) shifts in precipitation and temperature and increased variability in weather patterns (e.g. sea level rise).
  • Transition risks come from the policy, legal, technology and market changes occurring in the shift to a lower-carbon global economy. Transition risk also incorporates ‘stranded asset risk’ – write-downs of carbon-intensive assets that could quickly become unusable or reduced in value. Transition risks include policy constraints on emissions, imposition of carbon tax, water restrictions, land-use restrictions or incentives, market demand and supply shifts, and reputational considerations.

Mitigation

Mitigation means reduction in emissions of GHGs into the atmosphere or absorption of GHGs from the atmosphere.

Adaptation

Adaptation means reduction in the vulnerability of human or natural systems to the effects of climate change and climate variability related risks by maintaining or increasing adaptive capacity and resilience

 

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