Sustainability and CSR in the Greek Banking and Insurance Sector

18 January, 2007 | Athens, Greece

On 18 January, 2007 the UNEP FI Central and Eastern European Task Force has held a meeting with Greek financial institutions and stakeholder organisations in Athens, Greece. More than 50 participants from the largest Greek financial institutions attended the meeting, which was kindly sponsored by Alpha Bank. The event aimed at discussing the results of a survey on sustainable finance practices in Greek financial institutions, which was undertaken from June to October 2006. The survey results were entitled “Scratching on the surface of sustainable finance…” in order to indicate that Greek financial institutions have begun their sustainability journey, but a lot further work needs to be done to fully integrate social and environmental aspects into all Greek financial operations. The main conclusions that were drawn from the survey results are:

  • Greek financial institutions attach a high importance to sustainability topics, today and also in the future. However, they seem to limit their current actions to internal environmental management, CSR campaigns and offering selected green financial products. They still miss out to incorporate sustainability aspects into their core business activities, i.e. lending and investment. A generally high degree of environmental awareness seems to exist, but this knowledge cannot be translated into real business opportunities yet.
  • International financial institutions are not as strong in implementing their sustainability policies in their Greek subsidiaries as they are in their headquarters’ operations. Local institutions seem to be much more advanced than subsidiaries of international institutions, even though these have the potential to be pioneers regarding sustainable finance in the Greek financial market. The reasons, why this potential driver of sustainable finance in Greece is not working, certainly need to be further explored.
  • Private, public and non-governmental financial stakeholders involved in environmental issues are not well informed about the indirect environmental impacts of the financial sector. Unlike in other EU countries civil society and in particular non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are currently not drivers for sustainable finance, as they are not pushing for the management of environmental and social issues in the core business areas of financial institutions.

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