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 10 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 152KB .

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.

In 2017, we rolled out a training module for relationship and risk managers globally on our sustainability risk policies, and their own responsibilities, to ensure consistent implementation. By the end of the year, more than 9,000 of our people had completed this training.

We regularly review our policies to ensure that they address new and emerging risks as well as stakeholder concerns. In 2018, we conducted a review of our Energy policy, as part of our continuing efforts to support a transition to a low carbon economy. HSBC will reduce its support for financing new coal-fired power plants as well as no longer provide 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.

In 2017, HSBC was again recognised as a leader in the Forest 500 ranking. This evaluation, carried out by a UK-based think tank, ranks companies, investors and governments on their commitment to deforestation-free policies. We were among a small group of financial institutions to be awarded a high score for our approach to financing and investment within the forestry sector.

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 are supporting 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.

More in this section

Our values

HSBC puts great emphasis on values. We believe in being dependable and doing the right thing.

Our conduct

Operating with high standards of conduct is central to our long-term success. We have processes, policies and a culture designed to ensure fair outcomes for customers and protect the integrity of financial markets.

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