Sustainability philosophy Promoting economic and social development

Our philosophy sets out how we integrate sustainability into our decision making

Our approach For over 150 years

We’ve provided banking services that help people and companies to succeed, creating wealth, jobs and growth across some of the world’s most dynamic regions – Asia, Africa and the Middle East.  

We are committed to promoting economic and social development in the markets we serve, doing so sustainably and equitably in line with our purpose and three valued behaviours: ‘Never settle’, ‘Better together’ and ‘Do the right thing'. This sustainability philosophy sets out how we integrate sustainability into our organisational decision-making.

Growth in our markets is leading to rapid urbanisation and creating increased need for infrastructure and technology. We believe finance plays a key role in meeting these needs. It enables individuals to build a positive future for themselves and their families, businesses to thrive and grow, and governments to deliver economic prosperity for the wider community. Supporting sustainable and responsible growth, including delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals (‘SDGs’), represents a significant opportunity us. In pursuing this opportunity, we are guided by our brand promise, . 


Never settle

We recognise that there can be challenges in balancing environmental, social and economic needs, and continually ask ourselves questions to ensure we get this right, including how can we:

  • use our business to best extend finance to individuals and businesses to help them prosper?
  • support the energy needs of our markets whilst facilitating a transition to a low-carbon economy ?
  • be one of the world’s largest trade banks, yet nimble enough to create innovative digital trade solutions that facilitate commerce?
  • ensure infrastructure development supports sustainable growth and does not harm communities?
  • help clients and suppliers to create quality jobs, which support human rights?
  • use our unique diversity to help other companies unlock theirs?

Across our four client segments and in over sixty countries, we use our expertise, networks and skills to develop products and services that address these challenges.

We see significant opportunities for innovation, through digital banking, ecosystem banking and blended finance, to attract and direct additional capital to our markets. We are committed to facilitating the development of sustainable and resilient infrastructure to catalyse growth. Our support economic and social inclusion for individuals across our markets.


Better together

We set, and regularly review, standards for clients via our , in order to manage environmental and social challenges based on international good practice. We expect our clients to meet these standards. For clients who do not meet our standards, we will work with them to raise their standards in accordance with time bound and specific plans. Where alignment with our position statements cannot be demonstrated in the short term, we consider the following factors when making decisions:

  • The scale of environmental, social and economic impacts
  • The wider context, including a country’s development needs and policy priorities such as Nationally Determined Contributions toward the Paris Agreement, and national plans for the UN SDGs
  • The commitment, capacity and track record of all parties to responsibly manage environmental and social impacts

Do the right thing

Our prohibited activities list details those activities we will not support.

Where clients or suppliers breach this, or show insufficient progress in aligning to our position statements, we will decline transactions or exit relationships.