In recent years, Bankmed’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) involvement has developed from direct donations, aimed at community projects, to a diversified and integrated sustainability program. This was done in an effort to tackle flaring environmental, social, and cultural congestions in Lebanon. The following five Corporate Social Responsibility pillars were devised to this avail: Corporate Governance, Environmental Sustainability, Community Development, Economic Development, and Human Development. The top priorities include educating the public on the importance of being eco-friendly as well as helping disadvantaged and marginalized citizens.
Bankmed engages some of its major operating business lines and subsidiaries in its renewed efforts, such as Turkland Bank (T-Bank) in Turkey, MedSecurities Investment (MedSecurities) in Lebanon and Dubai, and Emkan Finance (Emkan) in Lebanon.
Sherine Bouez: What is the “Happy Planet” project and which collaborations enabled it?
Bankmed: In 2009, Bankmed recognized the need to take an active role in protecting the environment. The Bank launched the “Happy Planet” campaign, a substantial program created to raise awareness about essential changes for a healthy and clean planet. These include innovative activities, designed for both employees and the general public. For instance, Bankmed is the first bank in Lebanon to have offset its carbon emissions. Also, the completion of the first eco-friendly school in South Lebanon is a clear example of the Bank’s genuine mission throughout the country.
The achievement of several green projects was made possible by engaging the Bank’s staff and clients in the process. In addition, Bankmed’s partnerships with the Lebanese Government, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations have further enhanced this platform and allowed us to disseminate knowledge about environmental priorities. Amongst these partnerships is the Bankmed-UNDP Memorandum of Understanding, which was formed in the context of the Sustainable Rural Development, in line with the goal of “Environment Sustainability” of the Millennium Development Goals.
S.B.: What measures are you taking to restore Lebanon’s environment?
B.M: Reducing energy and electricity consumption as well as implementing major recycling guidelines make up the “restorative” framework for Bankmed’s environmental sustainability measures. In addition, the Bank embraces a number of initiatives in an effort to restore and raise awareness about environmental issues. The Bank’s “reforestation” initiative and its “awareness-raising” activities include supporting green events aimed at reestablishing the Lebanese image of natural abundance.
Bankmed remains the proud partner of the Garden Show and Spring Festival, a celebration of the Lebanese outdoor lifestyle for over a decade, which features over two hundred and twenty exhibitors covering landscape design, nurseries, gardening tools, or outdoor furniture.
In 2016, the Bank reiterated its commitment to the Jabal Moussa biosphere. As one of the key sponsors of this initiative, the Bank participates in Jabal Moussa’s fundraising events, held with the objective to promote environmental sustainability and protect the diversity of wild life. Jabal Moussa is one of only three biosphere reserves in Lebanon and one of twenty-four in the Middle East. The reserve is characterized by its wide biodiversity, which comprises two hundred and fifteen different types of plants, and twenty different types of trees, eleven of which are endemic. More than sixteen different species of mammals have been discovered including the hyena, wolf, rock hyrax, and other. It has also been designated as a Global Important Bird (GIB) Area because of all the vital migratory birds passing through during autumn and spring seasons.
Witnessing a growing success for the past six years, Bankmed’s “Greenest School and Green Student Competition” focuses on spreading environmental awareness among school students in Lebanon and remains among Bankmed’s top priorities. The Bank continues its plans to help young people recognize the importance of their role in preserving Lebanon’s environmental heritage. The 2016 edition featured more than one hundred and twenty schools, from public and private institutions alike, as well as fifteen thousand students, who exhibited serious efforts in displaying talent and awareness. They produced a wide range of creative drawings highlighting the importance of the ocean, under the theme “The Ocean is the Cradle of Life.”
The projects were evaluated by Dr. Lina Yamout, Chief of Protection of the Urban Environment Service, Protected Areas Project Focal Point at the Ministry of Environment, Lebanon, Mrs. Doreen Farah, Head of International Support Team & External Communications and International Relations at the Ministry of Education, Lebanon, and Mrs. Mona Yazbeck, an architect and active member of the Association pour la Protection des Sites et Anciennes Demeures au Liban (APSAD). The distribution of the awards took place on June 15, 2016 at Bankmed’s headquarters in Clemenceau, in the presence of Dr. Lina Yammout representing the Minister of Environment and Mr. Ghassan Chaccour, the advisor to the Minister of Education, representing the Minister. By organizing this competition, Bankmed continues to assert its commitment to the current environmental challenges as well as to a greener country for tomorrow’s generations.
S.B.: How is Bankmed developing Lebanon’s environment and society?
B.M: Helping communities to flourish is one of Bankmed’s main concerns. The Bank strives to create a positive difference wherever it operates. Bankmed’s efforts range from supporting healthcare and providing access to education, to promoting arts and culture as well as sports through a wide range of partnerships with non-profit and charitable organizations.
As far as economic development is concerned, creating new jobs and career opportunities, providing financial access to economically active individuals, and supporting crucial sectors within the Lebanese economy are part of Bankmed’s economic added value to the community. In this regard, the Bank leverages its expertise and resources by investing in human capital and providing financial intermediation to build a stable economy. Moreover, Bankmed continued to concentrate on the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector, while sustaining its leading position in microfinance through its subsidiary, Emkan Finance. The Bank intensifies its economic development work within the community across these business lines. Additionally, our adoption of the Banque du Liban’s directives, specifically in terms of enhancing economic growth, has strengthened Bankmed’s position among leading financial institutions.
S.B.: What is Bankmed’s approach to green financing and corporate governance?
B.M: Since livelihoods and economies depend highly on natural resources, proper management of the environment is crucial for a long-term productive capacity of the ecosystem (oceans, soils, and lakes), on which economies rely for many basic needs such as water, food, and pharmaceuticals. Green Finance gives an equal weight to economic development, social equity, and environmental sustainability. The integration of these important components helps attain economic development within the acceptable parameters of ecological limits and social conditions.
Unlike mainstream economic planning, green financing aligns the macroeconomic policies of the State with environmental and social policy goals. The Central Bank of Lebanon (BDL) has been taking a leading position in promoting environmental awareness and encouraging environment-friendly measures within the Lebanese banking sector. Within this context, BDL issued circulars to stimulate lending in the Lebanese pounds at a lower cost. Among these credit incentives are environment-friendly projects such as renewable energy, waste management, wastewater treatment and recycling. In compliance with the BDL incentives, Bankmed continues to grant environmental loans aimed at financing new eco-friendly projects. The Bank also provides loans that aim at developing old projects, in an attempt to make them sustainable, such as Renewable Energy projects, Ecotourism, and Recycling.
The Bank fully complies with the Central Bank of Lebanon (BDL) regulations, as well as with corporate governance guidelines adopted by the Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL). Additionally, Bankmed ensures compliance with the wider international regulations, taking the interest of diverse stakeholders into account. Corporate governance encompasses our governing processes and policies, through which we manage risks, set progression goals, and foster sustainable growth.
Supporting the greater community remains Bankmed’s Corporate Social Responsibility purpose, and Bankmed’s caretakers are proud of the role they have fulfilled so far. Moving forward, the Bank will continue to evaluate and improve its strategy in order to align its business goals with society’s evolving needs at every level, bringing together the insights of its stakeholders, the passion of its employees, and the spirit of the community. Most importantly, Bankmed remains devoted to assuming an integral social and responsible role in its society by continuing what it has started. After all, Bankmed’s long-standing engagement confirms that in sustainability, there is no finish line.
Source : WE Magazine issue #15