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HSBC is committed to sustainable business. We were among the first banks to introduce a Forest Land and Forest Products Policy in 2004.

Forests, and forest products, are an important global resource and key to economic development for many nations. But we know that logging, pulp and paper manufacture and agricultural development in forest areas can have an impact on the environment and local people.

We worked with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other experts to develop our policy, which requires clients to operate legally and sustainably to protect the environment and local people.

Our clients need to meet our standards. We allow them time to make changes, but unless there is clear evidence of progress towards meeting our sustainability policies we stop banking them. We have stopped providing banking services to 68 clients in Malaysia for this reason.

We regularly review our sustainability policies and their implementation. As part of this review, and in light of concerns raised by Global Witness, we will:

a) Engage Proforest, an independent international organisation that advises on sustainable natural resource management, to benchmark our policy against the wider corporate sector, and make recommendations for improvements;

b) Commission PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a compliance review of our implementation of the policy.

We will report on the findings in due course.

You can read more about our approach to sustainability and our other sector policies in HSBC’s Sustainability Report 2012, available on Friday, 24 May.

Simon Martin
Head of Global Corporate Sustainability
HSBC Holdings plc