Reducing the bank’s carbon footprint and investing to provide safe water for developing countries are key sustainability priorities for HSBC, as it seeks to make a positive contribution to communities around the world. We also support communities by ensuring that our policies in higher-risk sectors are robust, understood by our employees, and followed by our clients.
During 2012 more than 95,000 people were provided with sanitation facilities for the first time and a further 64,000 were given access to safe drinking water, as part of the HSBC Water Programme.
The success of the programme is highlighted in HSBC’s Sustainability Report 2012 published today. HSBC is contributing USD100 million to the Water Programme over five years (2012-2017) working alongside three non-governmental organisations, to improve the lives of millions in developing countries in Asia, South America and Africa.
Sustainability for HSBC is about our long-term contribution. We want our people, investors and communities we serve to feel proud of being associated with an organisation that is actively seeking ways to improve its sustainability and environmental efficiency
Group Chief Operating Officer
In 2012 HSBC’s Global Research team focused on the impact of water scarcity on businesses and communities. Investor research reveals that access and use of water is becoming a strong differentiating factor between countries. The Sustainability Report 2012 shows the long-term business opportunities arising from this shift towards the low-carbon economy, and further highlights our “climate business” deals in water, as well as in renewables and sustainable transport.
“We recognise that, if the world continues to overshoot its resources capacity, there is the risk of localised, and eventually global, constraints on economic activity,” says Douglas Flint, Chairman of HSBC. “We believe we have a role to play in helping to safeguard the natural resources that underpin economic growth.”
It is this understanding of our potential impact on the environment and communities around us that encouraged HSBC to develop and continually improve sustainability risk policies. These policies set the standards our customers must reach in higher-risk areas (forestry, chemicals, mining, energy, freshwater and defence). More than 6,500 HSBC employees have been trained to recognise and understand these risks and we regularly assess our customers to ensure they comply. We turn away business if we are not comfortable that it meets our standards. In 2012, we declined two potential customers that we believe would have adversely affected World Heritage Sites.
HSBC is also committed to more efficient use of natural resources. With 6,600 offices in more than 80 countries, sustainable actions across the Group can have a big impact. In 2012 we set out a long-term sustainable business strategy. One of the main goals is to reduce annual carbon emissions per employee from 3.5 tonnes to 2.5 tonnes by 2020. Data centres account for 20 per cent of our total energy use, so reducing consumption in these buildings is a key consideration. Last year, power usage in these centres was reduced, enabling us to make annual savings of USD540,000 and reduce carbon emissions by 2,400 tonnes.
“Sustainability for HSBC is about our long-term contribution,” says Sean O’Sullivan, Group Chief Operating Officer. “We want our people, investors and communities we serve to feel proud of being associated with an organisation that is actively seeking ways to improve its sustainability and environmental efficiency.”
The report also shows HSBC invested USD120 million in community programmes during 2012, including USD58 million in education initiatives to help young people reach their potential. In 2012 we pledged an additional USD15 million to Future First, our flagship global programme, which aims to tackle child poverty through education projects and improve literacy and employment prospects. We want to ensure that HSBC is a robust, sustainable business in which our communities can trust, our customers can have confidence and our employees can take pride.