The Power to Influence Real Change towards a Sustainable Future

Today as we commemorate World Environment Day 2023, we focus on global activities to minimise plastic pollution under the campaign theme #BeatPlasticPollution. This year, countries are being asked to concentrate efforts towards finding solutions to the 400 million tonnes of plastics produced annually. What is more alarming is that 200 million tonnes are designed to be single-use and of that, less than 10% is recycled. An estimated 19-23 million tonnes end up in lakes, rivers and seas and you only have to visit a local landfill to observe that plastic is dominant waste material. It is absolutely clear that we MUST change this as it is not only impacting our environment but also our lives and future generations.

At Republic Bank, we are committed to taking long term action towards reducing plastic waste and promoting sustainable alternatives. At the global level, we’ve signed on to the United Nation’s Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB). The PRB consists of more than 300 signatory banks representing about half of the worldwide banking industry. Through the PRB, banks adopt a science-based approach to align core strategies, decision-making, lending and investment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and international agreements such as the Paris Climate Agreement.

The SDGs have specific and cross cutting goals identifying plastic pollution as critical. These goals are:
• SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production
• SDG 14 – Life Below Water
• SDG 15 – Life on Land

Republic is also a founding signatory to UNEP FI’s Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) which focuses on member banks’ impact on climate change. Through our very public commitment as a UNEP FI member, we acknowledge the challenging journey we have ahead of us to become industry leaders in the sustainability space, but we’re facing this challenge head on! Since becoming PRB and NZBA signatories, the Bank has formalized a sustainability unit, with the primary focus of mainstreaming sustainability throughout the entire Group through the development and implementation of a data driven Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) framework. A significant component of this ESG framework is the development of long-term strategies to minimize our plastic footprint by promoting circular economy activities that encourage the use of plastics for as long as possible through strategies such as recycling, reuse, repair, and remanufacturing. It emphasizes the importance of closing the loop, ensuring that products, components, and materials are recovered, regenerated, and reintegrated into the production process.

Across our territories, there are examples of our Group working to contribute to global efforts to conserve the environment and reduce pollution. In Barbados we’ve partnered with The Future Centre Trust for environmental cleanups to address the serious problem of illegal dumping of plastic and other waste materials. Under our Power to Make a Difference programme, in Trinidad and Tobago, we were able to sponsor the Every Bottle Back pilot project. To date, this initiative has showed impressive results having collected 3,000,000 plastic bottles as at May 2023.

In order to continue to achieve our goals, we recognize that addressing plastic pollution requires collaboration and coordination and in this light, we’re working to facilitate the efforts of others seeking to be part of the solution. We encourage current and prospective clients alike to talk to us regarding business ideas which focus on waste management, sustainable packaging solutions and Circular Economy applications. We understand that accessing financing for sustainability type projects has been difficult in the past and have set systems in place to remove barriers.

Additionally, we’re the first bank in the region to set Climate and Sustainable Agriculture financing targets, which will allow for concessionary financing for projects falling within these categories. We have also formalized a Small Medium Enterprise (SME) / Business Segment Unit which provides capacity- building to our small and medium sized client partners, and we are working towards engaging those involved in plastic waste management activities. We are also revising our risk assessment processes to allow for greater flexibility in approving sustainable financing opportunities.

As the largest indigenous Bank in the region, we have the power to influence real change so we’re seizing this moment to integrate waste management and circular economy principles into our sphere of influence. Through our collective efforts, we can foster a culture of sustainability within and also inspire others to be catalysts for change towards a regenerative economic system in which resources are used effectively and waste is minimized.

Join us. Together, we can leave a lasting legacy of responsible stewardship and a healthier and more resilient planet for all.

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