Sustainability risk

HSBC seeks to ensure that the financial services we provide to our customers to support economic development do not result in an unacceptable impact on people or the environment.

For more than 15 years, we have been working with our business customers to help them understand and manage their environmental and social impact. HSBC has specific sustainability risk policies covering agricultural commodities, chemicals, defence, energy, forestry, mining and metals, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Ramsar-designated wetlands. We also apply the Equator Principles when financing projects.

We engage with customers, where appropriate, and support them in adopting more sustainable practices. We end banking relationships with customers when they are unwilling or unable to comply with our standards. More information about our approach is available in The Introduction to Sustainability Risk Policies (PDF 36KB).

You can also find further information on our policies in areas such as the environment, climate change, human rights, and modern slavery on the ESG reporting and policies page.

To make sure our sector policies are implemented consistently, we have invested in more than 75 Sustainability Risk Managers across our business. These risk managers, based in the Credit Risk function, have local or regional responsibilities for advising on and managing environmental and social risks, and play a key role in the approval process for high-risk relationships or transactions. Sustainability Risk Managers are supported by Group Sustainability Risk, a central team responsible for developing policies, guidance, processes and training.

We ensure that, globally, our relationship and risk managers are trained on our sustainability risk policies, and their own responsibilities, to ensure consistent implementation. By the end of 2017, more than 9,000 of our employees had completed our internally designed training module on sustainability risk.

We regularly review our policies to ensure that they address new and emerging risks as well as stakeholder concerns. We strengthened our Energy policy in April 2018, and since then we have not agreed any project financing for any new coal-fired power plants anywhere. Additionally, HSBC no longer provides financial services to new offshore oil and gas projects in the Arctic. The revised policy is available in the list of policies on this page.

We continue to engage with customers and stakeholders so we can improve our policies and the way they are implemented. We believe that independent certification schemes can play an important role in banks’ and companies’ management of sustainability risk in global supply chains, and we continue to support the development of selected schemes, for example in the forestry and agricultural commodities sectors.

Forestry and agricultural commodities

Find out about developments to our forestry and agricultural commodities policies and their implementation.

Equator Principles

Find out more about our application of the Equator Principles.

ESG reporting and policies

Find our ESG publications and further detail on our policies and non-financial performance.

Read more

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