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Banks need green loan guidelines   2009-03-18 - VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

Banks and financial institutions should follow the principles of risk management and sustainable development when assessing possible loans to green projects, participants at a World Bank symposium agreed in Ha Noi yesterday.

But Viet Nam’s commercial banks awareness of the necessity was poor, International Finance Corporation,IFC, Mekong region, , advisory service head Nguyen Phuong Quynh Trang told the gathering titled, "Managing risks, Achieving sustainability."

Comprehensive risk management included not only credit, liquidity, operation, and the market but also corporate governance, the environment and society, she said.

Smart banks had strategies and systems to avoid such risks.

"Managing risk in a holistic way will help ensure that banks stay healthy and thrive over the long term," she advised.

Trang said many of the world’s governments were taking action to ensure environmental and social sustainability.

Strategic management firm AT Kearney had reported that during the global economic contraction, companies that showed a "true" commitment to sustainability appeared to have outperformed their industry peers in the financial markets.

Viet Nam Banks Association general secretary Duong Thu Huong conceded that most domestic banks focused on credit and financial risk and ignored environmental and social risk.

Banks should meet and agree to make environmental and social risk a condition of loan contracts, she said.

The participants agreed that implementation of standards for risk management and sustainable development would be costly but would benefit the long-term business strategies of both banks and their borrowers.

IFC Environment and Social Development director Gregory Radford said that when companies caused significant pollution and were threatened with closure, they lost money and this impacted on both banks and the economy.

IFC and Chinese representatives explained the IFC’s Performance Standards which are recognised as best practice for environmental and social risk management and innovative business models for energy efficiency.

These include the China Utility-based Energy Efficiency Finance Programme first introduced by Industrial Bank of China.

China Banking and Regulatory Commission Statistics Department director general Yanfei Ye emphasised the importance of raising awareness of banks and enterprises to the need of risk management and sustainable development.

IFC Environment and Social Development director Gregory Radford added:

"The achievements of China make a strong business case for sustainable banking in emerging markets and show that environmental and social responsibility goes hand in hand with commercial success, even in a time of financial crisis."

The symposium was jointly held by the International Finance Corporation, the State Bank of Viet Nam and the Viet Nam Banks’ Association.

The IFC, a World Bank agency, advises governments, companies and industries.

In Viet Nam, its services are delivered in partnership with Australia, Canada, Finland, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

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