Press release

Gonzalo Gortázar: “Banks can play a pivotal role in accelerating the environmental and social transition”

Participation in the ‘II Annual SpainNAB Forum’

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Gonzalo Gortázar, at the SpainNAB Annual Event

• CaixaBank’s CEO has highlighted that banks can support their clients to progress in sustainability: “We can get to be net zero by 2050 by incentivising our clients, through innovative financial structures, to make sure that they comply with targets or even exceed those targets”.

• “We need to actually step up and convert into action what we’re doing in order to make adequate progress in the SDGs”.

• For Gortázar, “It is really extraordinary when you look at where we were five to ten years ago in terms of ESG investing, but we are not making ultimate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals”.

• CaixaBank’s CEO has participated in the panel “A roadmap for capitalism” with GSG Chairman Sir Ronald Cohen and BlackRock’s CEO and founder Larry Fink.

You can watch the full panel here

Today at the ‘II Annual SpainNAB Forum’ (the National Advisory Council for Impact Investing) the CaixaBank’s CEO, Gonzalo Gortázar, has highlighted the bank's commitment to impact investing and has vindicated the role of banks in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: “Banks tend to be at the centre of the economy, the circulatory system — we channel funds through lending into investments. For this reason, we can play a pivotal role in accelerating the environmental and social transition. It provides us with an opportunity to show to society that we are good citizens”.

In a conversation with GSG Chairman Sir Ronald Cohen, and BlackRock’s CEO and founder Larry Fink, broadcasted during the forum, Gortázar discussed how banks can influence the inclusion of social and environmental impact in investment decision-making: “This is not just about saying I'm not going to lend to fossil fuel companies, I'm only going to lend to renewables. There are a lot of great companies that may be in the oil industry now that are actually very committed to do this transition. And hence, we can also get to be net zero by 2050 by incentivising our clients, through innovative financial structures, to make sure that they comply with targets or even exceed those targets”.

Gortázar stressed that there is still a long way to go: “It is really something extraordinary when you look at where we were five to ten years ago in terms of ESG investment, but we are not making ultimate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. We need to make sure that we acknowledge that this is a long-term process, we need to actually step up and convert into actions what we are doing”.

Greater focus on the S in ESG investment

With regard to the priorities of impact investing, Gortázar highlighted the social aspect of the ESG criteria: "While damage to the environment is something where everyone is at stake, because everyone realises that we cannot live on a planet that does not have the right conditions to live, inequality is only a problem for the ones that are less equal. And I am concerned that in the next five to ten years, we are going to make a lot of progress on the  environment and that is positive, but we are not likely to make so much progress on the social part, which is something that still needs to be addressed”.

And he has highlighted CaixaBank's role in this regard: “We have over 150,000 social accounts precisely catering for people that have less than 600 euros income, giving them access to commission-free financial services. Through Microbank, over the past years, we have made approximately granted a million microcredits of €5,000-€6,000 each”.

He also highlighted the bank's commitment to financial inclusion: “We have decided not to leave those locations where we are present. There are 365 small towns in Spain in which we are the sole bank. We have made this commitment in the past and we have renewed it for the future. We will have to do that on a competitive basis, but we are not going to let towns fall into financial exclusion”.

Common taxonomy

CaixaBank’s CEO has appealed for a common taxonomy to measure impact investing: "The discussions about taxonomy are very important as there are different views, and we need to agree on those”. And he added: “From an ESG point of view, we need to make sure that we not only have a consistent system of metrics and disclosures, but a consistent standard and appropriate supervision, so that banks can really compare what they are doing between each other so that society can really judge on that effort”.

Together with banks, Gortázar highlighted the importance of the public sector in this field: “We also need critical help from the public sector, which can act as a catalyst to private sector money. One example is the Next Generation EU funds. A large share of these funds is going to the energy transition. Now, private banks can obviously have a multiplier effect on this money to make sure the impact is much larger”.

CaixaBank's commitment to impact investing has been strengthened during the forum, in which Gortázar has announced the renewal of the agreement between CaixaBank and SpainNAB to continue to drive impact investing in Spain.

 

 

 

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