Interview with Claudia Belli Jeanteur, Head of Social Entrepreneurship and Microfinance at...
What does being a leader in sustainable finance mean?
BNP Paribas was named the World’s Best Bank for Corporate Responsibility by finance magazine Euromoney in 2019. That award followed hot on the heels of the bank being named “World’s Best Bank for Sustainable Finance” in 2018. These accolades constitute recognition for the initiatives taken and the investments made by the Group to turn itself into a leading player in sustainable finance. Let’s take a look at the motivations behind those efforts, and the results they have yielded.
Why become a leading player in sustainable finance?
At BNP Paribas, we believe economic growth can only be sustainable if it is beneficial for all and preserves the planet’s resources. That firm conviction, championed by BNP Paris Director and CEO Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, has been a driving force behind the Group’s actions for many years now. It is based on an ethical vision of banks’ long-term social and environmental responsibility, recognising that banks have a crucial role to play in channelling financial resources towards initiatives that meet the challenges of our society today.
That is why BNP Paribas has set itself the goal of becoming a leader in sustainable finance and social and environmental responsibility. Our actions are guided by the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To centralise the management of these projects, we set up a Corporate Engagement Department in 2017.
The Group is taking tangible action in various fields, financing the energy transition and the social economy, and guiding customers towards sustainable finance and a lower-carbon economy.
Financing the energy transition
In 2018, the Group devoted a budget of €168 billion to financing sectors that contribute directly to the SDGs, with €15 billion earmarked for renewable energy.
Also in 2018, BNP Paribas committed to bringing its entire loan book into line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The aim? To gradually direct financial flows towards climate objectives through our lending activities. Finally, between now and 2020, we plan to invest €100 million in innovative startups working on the energy transition.
Helping customers to fight climate change
In 2018, BNP Paribas Securities Services launched the social business ClimateSeed, a voluntary carbon offsetting platform that puts organisers of projects generating carbon credits in touch with companies that want to voluntarily offset some of their greenhouse gas emissions.
Supporting the social economy
As of the end of 2018, BNP Paribas has provided around €1.6 billion in support to over 2,000 social enterprises in 7 countries. That support has come in large part through the structuring and financing of Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) in France and the United States. These bonds allow social innovations to be financed by private investors, who are ultimately reimbursed from the public coffers if the innovation succeeds.
In early 2019, BNP Paribas announced the launch of three new Social Impact Bonds in France, for which we are the only bank to play the dual role of structurer and investor. Finally, BNP Paribas has launched a solidarity fund enabling private individuals to find meaning in their savings by financing social entrepreneurs.
Microfinance: 30 years of commitmentAs far back as 1989, BNP Paribas set up its first microfinance partnership in Guinea. Three decades later, the Group’s commitment to microfinance has benefited over 2 million people, including 1.8 million women. Some 84 microfinance institutions in 33 countries have received a total of €900 million in support*.
For 30 years, BNP Paribas has been empowering women entrepreneurs to change the equation. Explore these women’s stories on Little Big Movement.
* BNP Paribas estimated Microfinance figures since 1989.
Encouraging the next generation of social entrepreneurs
For many years, BNP Paribas has been designing services to support social entrepreneurs. We provide them with new and effective solutions in many fields – social integration, education, housing, health, housing, the environment, etc. – to maximise their positive impact, accelerate their projects and give them access to a network of partners.
Our ambition for 2020 is to support one in four new social entrepreneurs in France through our Act for Impact scheme.
“Millennials like to see the tangible impact of their savings: 75% of them think their socially responsible investing can have an impact on climate change and 84% believe it can contribute to poverty alleviation.”
Millennials like to see the tangible impact of their savings.
Supporting our customers in their commitment to sustainable finance
BNP Paribas endeavours to create new products and services that enable its customers to get involved in the energy transition and invest responsibly.
Our individual customers have access to green financing solutions, such as a 1% loan for buying a new vehicle eligible for the environmental bonus. The Group also offers large companies positive incentive loans: The closer the company gets to its CSR performance goals, the more advantageous the lending conditions the bank will grant it.
BNP Paribas Asset Management also offers a wide range of socially responsible funds, such as BNP Paribas Sustainable Bond Euro Short Term. In May 2019, we expanded this range further by launching the first index fund dedicated to the circular economy.
Photos ©Mat Rick Photography // ©Westend61