ESG focus

FMO believes financial institutions have a vital environmental and social role to play. Banks can be agents of change, using their daily dealings with the companies they finance to stimulate more sustainable ways of doing business. At FMO, we continue to innovate, experiment and engage in constructive discussions with our financial institution clients to help them play this role, encouraging them to act as responsible citizens. The crisis in the European and US banking systems, where excessive focus on the bottom line and short term results proved ruinous, has thrown this into even sharper relief.

We continued to encourage banks to play a broader role in society in 2011, beyond purely as a source of funds, with discussions on the role they can play in ESG issues with their own clients. This yielded remarkable results in Nigeria, where our engagement over the last seven years through our client Access bank and our own investments in that country, plus engagement with all our clients on their ESG role, culminated in a ground-breaking commitment to sustainable banking.  For more information visit our website.

In May, we financed and co-organized, together with Access Bank, Nigeria's first-ever environmental and social workshop for banks, which brought together over 60 participants from the entire banking sector. In September, bankers came together for Green Finance Week, co-organized by FMO, which concluded with a round table of the CEOs of Nigeria's banks, led by the central bank. Out of those discussions came the banks' declaration that was published in the Financial Times committing themselves to do business more responsibly - something that can have major knock-on impact in a country of 150 million people.

For FMO, this result is a case study in how a relatively modest investment can have a substantial effect in our key area of sustainable development. It also showcases our strength in listening closely to our clients' requirements - in this case, their need for a level playing field on sustainable business practices - and then devising a solution.

We also set a precedent in Bangladesh, where together with the Asian Development Bank and the central bank we organized the country's first round table on how banks can implement environmental and social aspects into their credit approval processes for clients.