Sustainable Banking and Green Business Models

Dr. Dalia Abdel Kader
Chief Sustainability Officer at CIB Egypt

One of CIB Egypt business pillars is "Sustainable Finance and Banking". Could you explain how you have incorporated this into your daily operations? How do you measure your positive impact?

In 2020, the Commercial International Bank (CIB) decided that sustainability should be part of the bank's process. The CIB wants to make sure that there are environmental, social, and governance impacts (ESG) on top of profits. The bank started embracing sustainability as a value in 2015 and published its first carbon footprint in 2018. These renowned milestone initiatives got CIB listed in global indices like the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and the Gender Equality Index. However, in 2020, sustainability became integrated into the policies, operations and products. To achieve this, the CIB embedded a systems thinking philosophy where every aspect of the system is interconnected. For most of the 20th century, finance has been disconnected from the environment, and the environment disconnected from society, governance, and business. For this reason, we introduced the sustainable finance institution pillars: sustainability governance structure, policies and international frameworks, building sustainability systems, sustainability education and innovation. These pillars ensure we have an entire framework surrounding our ESG strategy. 

Regarding the nine sustainability principles of banking, how does the CIB manage/adapt to these objectives, especially integrating environmental and social principles into the business and financial inclusion?

The CIB is one of the leading banks from the MENA region, focusing on integrating Sustainable Finance principles. In 2019, it joined a group of 28 international banks under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and developed the Principles for Responsible Banking. I think what's unique about Principles for Responsible Banking is that they give operational expressions of sustainability. The first principle is alignment; you must align with the SDGs and sustainable finance frameworks and strategies. These principles help banks operationalize sustainability. We acknowledge the African agenda, the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, and we take them seriously. 

Your sustainability report of 2020 focuses on financing the transition to the green economy. Which projects are you currently developing or have developed to accelerate this transition? 

We are committed to financing energy efficiency, renewable energy, transportation, green buildings, and pollution reduction under the green bonds. We introduced the Edge Certification for green building; our office building in the New Administrative Capital is the first office building to be certified in the city. We also present this to our clients along with funding. We help them with technical assistance and funding to ensure that they are accredited. It is challenging to grow your business sustainably if you are not working with the industry in enabling sectoral transformation.

How do you see the CIB evolving regarding social and environmental sustainability in your ideal world?

The CIB sustainable finance strategy, endorsed by the board, has become integrated into the new corporate strategy. It aims for the CIB to become a leading actor in driving sustainable development in Egypt and the region. We have a very ambitious project: the ESG data digitization. We know that data health, integrity, and reporting are critical. Data, digitalization and sustainability are a golden triangle inside any institution. So part of the CIB strategy for sustainable financial innovation is to have an ESG data digitization programme implemented inside the bank to help us monitor our sustainability practices and our clients. We are committed to becoming net-zero by 2050 and are focusing on accelerating the sustainable transition as much as we can. CIB is a Founding Signatory of the Net Zero Banking Alliance.