Global alliance launched to change the face of banking
If we could take just one positive from the economic crisis, perhaps it should be the opportunity to change the global financial system for the better. Last year, an international group of leading sustainable banks came together to do just that, forming an alliance in order to try and build a viable, sustainable future for the financial industry.
The Global Alliance for Banking on Values was created to build a positive alternative to a world financial system in crisis. The banks, which have assets of more than 10 billion dollars and serve over 7 million customers in 20 countries, range from a green bank in America to a Mongolian microfinance bank. They were all invited to come together by the Alliance’s three founding banks: BRAC Bank ñ part of the BRAC Group and the world’s largest microfinance institution; ShoreBank ñ a community bank based in Chicago; and Triodos Bank.
Triodos chief executive officer, Peter Blom, explains why the alliance members have the potential to change the architecture of the financial world: ‘Unlike their enormous mainstream contemporaries, these banks are profitable, growing and crisis resistant. When it was unfashionable to do so, they stuck to simple, core banking services that balance people, planet and profit. There’s no one single answer to the global financial crisis. There are many. But the leaders of these organisations, acting on an international stage, hold many of them. Together they are an extraordinary force for change.’
The groundbreaking partnership plans to develop new ways of working, build organisations better suited to long-term sustainable thinking, and new forms of ownership and economic co-operation.
This March, members of the Alliance met in Bangladesh. As an area likely to feel the effect of the climate and financial crises, it was a fitting location to hold the meeting. Over three days, they worked to grow sustainable banking, focus on joint capital raising efforts and build an infrastructure to support the development of a new generation of sustainable bankers.
At the close of the summit, the Global Alliance pledged to touch the lives of one billion people by 2020. It is expecting the growth to come from a significant expansion of the network’s membership, by supporting the banks looking to adopt genuinely values-driven models and the creation of new sustainable banks.
Co-founder of the Alliance, founder of BRAC and the meeting’s host, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, said: ‘The members of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values have committed to touch the lives of one billion people by 2020. This is a major new pledge, which could transform lives on a truly global scale, and also make a substantial difference in our efforts to combat climate change.’
Triodos chief executive officer, Peter Blom
Photo: © Triodos Bank