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Cablegate: Nedbank - South Africa's Greenest Bank

VZCZCXRO2821
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSA #1483/01 1911308
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091308Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5009
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
INFO RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 5787
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9974
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 8189

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 001483

DEPT FOR OES/PCI, OES/ENV, AND AF/S
DEPT PASS EPA/OIA,

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV SOCI ETRD SF
SUBJECT: NEDBANK - SOUTH AFRICA'S GREENEST BANK

PRETORIA 00001483 001.2 OF 002

1. Summary. Environment, Science and Technology FSN met in
mid-June with Nedbank Group Executive Chief of Governance and
Compliance Advocate Selby Baqwa and Senior Manager Briggete Burnett
in June 2008 to discuss Nedbank's environmental and sustainability
programs. The officials advised that Nedbank is the first and only
bank in Africa to subscribe to the Equatorial Principle. The bank
has partnered with World Wide Fund for Nature/South Africa (WWF-SA)
and the World Bank (WB) to found the Green Trust (GT) to protect and
conserve the environment. Nedbank holds awareness campaigns,
sponsors training programs and has established Nedbank Affinity
Accounts, which contribute funds to environmental and sustainability
projects. Nedbank has conducted a carbon audit and published the
results with the Carbon Disclosure Project. Foreign-based branches
also participate in Nedbank's "green activities." End Summary


2. Environment, Science and Technology FSN met in mid-June with
Nedbank Group Executive Chief of Governance and Compliance Advocate
Selby Baqwa and Senior Manager Ms. Briggete Burnett in June 2008 to
discuss Nedbank's environmental and sustainability programs.
Burnett said sustainable banking was an integral part of Nedbank's
business. Baqwa noted that Nedbank is involved in numerous "green"
programs and has projects involving staff, clients, government, NGOs
and other business partners.

--------------------------------------------- --
Nedbank - Signatory to the Equatorial Principle
--------------------------------------------- --


3. Nedbank is the only bank on the African continent that has
adopted the Equator Principle (EP). The EP was negotiated in
October 2002 by a small number of banks working with the World
Bank's International Finance Corporation. The EP acts as a banking
industry framework for addressing environmental and social risks in
project financing. The EP was formally launched in June 2003 and
forty financial institutions adopted it over the three-year
implementation period. A revised EP was released in July 2006 with
final adoption and implementation in January 2007. A financial
institution adopts the EP by submitting an adoption form, announcing
adoption in a press release, and reporting publicly all EP
implementation.

4. Baqwa noted that Nedbank had been conducting environmental,
social, political and reputation assessments before financing a
project even before adopting the EP. Nedbank has financed fourteen
EP projects since adoption. Burnett advised that Nedbank was the
first African bank to join and co-chair the UNEP Financial
Initiatives (UNEPFI) African Task Force (ATF), the sustainable and
environmental responsibility project established to address African
climate change challenges.

-------------------------------------
Staff Involvement in Green Activities
-------------------------------------

5. Baqwa and Burnett both noted that one of Nedbank's key goals is
to ensure effective staff engagement in environmental and
sustainability activities, including developing an environmental
management system for all branches. Nedbank developed a
sustainability target list and completed procurement training
incorporating environmental guidelines in 2007. Baqwa noted that
the bank wants to increase its involvement in events such as World
Environment Day in June, and Deep Green Day in September.

--------------------------------------------- --
Q-------------------------------------------- ---
Greening with the Customers - Affinity Accounts
--------------------------------------------- --


6. Burnett advised that Nedbank founded the Green Trust (GT) in
1990 in partnership with the WWF-SA and the WB. She said the GT's
main activities include rehabilitating the environment and
protecting bio-diversity, ecology and endangered species. Other
projects involve community-based education and conservation of
forest and water resources. In total, GT supports over 150 major
conservation and socio-economic projects.

7. Baqwa said Nedbank created Green Affinity accounts,
environmentally-focused bank accounts that donate money to GT
projects based on clients' financial activities. Bank clients do
not pay any extra premium other than the normal services fees.
Nedbank makes an initial R2.50 ($0.30) donation for every Green
Affinity savings account opened. A percentage of charges made using
Nedbank Green Affinity credit cards is donated monthly to the GT
fund at no cost to customers. Nedbank has donated over R100 million

PRETORIA 00001483 002.2 OF 002


($12.5 million) to GT through its Affinity accounts.


----------------------
Carbon Footprint Audit
----------------------

8. Baqwa said Nedbank conducted carbon and energy audits in 2007,
which resulted in the bank's first compilation of its carbon
footprint. The Nedbank 2007 Sustainability and Transformation
Report revealed that Nedbank produced direct carbon dioxide
emissions of 572.41 metric tons (mt) in 2007, up from 417.05 mt in
2006. Emissions came from office air-conditioning systems,
refrigeration gas refills and the bank's vehicles. Indirect carbon
emissions from purchased electricity were 95,929,16 mt in 2007, up
from 87,157,05 mt in 2006, while other indirect sources accounted
for 26,695,76 mt. Collectively, Nedbank's carbon emissions peaked
at 124,593,910 mt in 2007. Burnett noted that the bank had a
climate change position statement, and was planning to set targets
for future reductions. She added that an environmental committee
met regularly to monitor the progress of the climate change program.


-------------------------
Energy Efficiency Efforts
-------------------------

10. Nedbank Group oversees an energy efficiency program, which
involves retrofitting outlets to accept energy-efficient lights,
lowering water heater temperatures (55F degrees), and replacing
electricity with clean gas energy. Nedbank participated in the
Carbon Disclosure Project, which encourages industries to disclose
emissions and plans for addressing climate change issues. Nedbank
established the Capital Greening Award in 2006 to acknowledge
responsible mining and mineral extraction. Nedbank also set up a
carbon finance team which assists projects in obtaining Clean
Development Mechanism (CDM) financing.

-----------------------------------------
Nedbank Efforts Reach beyond South Africa
-----------------------------------------

11. Nedbank has over 40 branches in Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia,
Swaziland and Zimbabwe, all of which have environmental
sustainability programs. Nedbank has a branch in London, and has
recently established one in Canada.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
Comment: Nedbank - a potential partner for U.S. firms
--------------------------------------------- ----------

12. Nedbank stands as an example of what the South African
financial sector could do in the environmental sector. Nedbank
officials say the bank is eager to invest in more environment and
sustainability projects. Nedbank could be a useful partner for USG
agencies or private companies seeking investments or financing for
climate change mitigation or adaptation activities.
Bost

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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