DFCC Bank celebrates World Environment Day
June 9, 2020
Celebrating World Environment Day, on behalf of the banking industry, CEO of DFCC Bank Lakshman Silva comments on why environmental responsibility is a vital part of a bank’s operations and addresses the efforts taken by DFCC Bank’s Sustainability Division over the years.
Give us a bit of background information on DFCC Bank’s Sustainability Division and its importance to the Bank’s progress.
DFCC Bank has always been on the forefront of promoting a green environment through its sustainability initiatives, as well as through its operations and credit policy. Therefore, minimizing adverse impacts on the environment remains a key area of focus of the Bank. As a provider of financial services, the Bank realizes that its consequences on the environment are mostly indirect. Nevertheless, the Bank encourages clients, employees and service providers to adopt environmentally and socially responsible practices and is committed to managing the Bank’s resources efficiently.
Therefore, in 2016, DFCC Bank set up a separate Sustainability Division to specifically focus on such efforts as a responsible corporate citizen, as well as to implement the Social and Environmental Management System (SEMS) with regard to project loans provided by the Bank.Over the years, this separate unit has been able to focus solely on sustainability initiatives and promoting sustainability among its staff, while ensuring that the Bank adheres to Sustainable Banking Principles.
The Bank also has a Management Sub-Committee on sustainability. This committee, which is headed by the CEO and includes 13 senior managers from various divisions, meets bi-monthly to provide direction to the Sustainability Division and reviewits activities.
What special plans have been initiated by the Sustainability Division for World Environment Day this year?
The situation is a little different this year. The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to change our way of living, with most of these changes having negative connotations. However, in spite of this, the resultant lockdown has also brought about some positive changes such as many people taking up home gardening. People around the world are turning to gardening as a soothing, family-friendly hobby that also eases concerns over food security, as the lockdowns slowed or disrupted the distribution of food items.
Thus, with World Environment Day falling on the 5th of June, DFCC Bank has embarked on a campaign to promote ‘home gardening’ among our employees and customers by providing them with “Home Garden Kits”. In addition, the Bank will offer an easy payment scheme for its credit cardholders when purchasing home gardeningequipment during the month of June.
How big of a role does the banking industry play in achieving sustainability?
Banks finance almost all projects undertaken by large companies as well as small entrepreneurs. Therefore, banks have an obligation to ensure that these projects or investments that they finance adhere to the social and environmental laws and guidelines of the country.
The Sri Lanka Banks’ Association (SLBA) has developed 11 Sustainable Banking Principles that all local banks should adhere to, which have also been endorsed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. In addition to project financing, these principles help maintain sustainability of the banks’ operational aspects as well. Many banks, including DFCC Bank, are signatories to these principles, signalling a banking industry that is committed to sustainable business.
Some banks, including DFCC Bank, have also developed and implemented a Social & Environmental Management System (SEMS) to monitor project lending in a systematic manner.
Apart from CSR activities, what other environmentally friendly initiatives and programmes has the Bank’s Sustainability Division undertaken?
DFCC Bank’s Sustainability Division has embarked on a number of sustainability initiatives over the years. Among the main initiatives is a program to plant trees to commemorate staff birthdays since January 2017. Staff members whose birthdays are celebrated each month by planting trees under this initiative receive a personalized invitation to attend the tree-planting campaign, as well as an e-tree-dedication certificate. During 2017-2019, the Bank had planted more than 25,000 trees under this initiative.
In a campaign to reduce the use of plastic, especially focusing on single-use plastic, the Bank conducts regular Plastic Recycling Campaigns to collect plastic items from staff and hand them to a plastic recycling company. There is also a Bank-wide ban on single-use plastic for office use, while educating the staff on reducing the use of plastic water bottles, lunch sheets, rigifoam boxes, etc. The Bank also held a ‘No Plastic Day’ as a Friday dress down initiative, in addition to providing DFCC-branded reusable bags to its customers and staff to minimize their use of plastic bags for shopping.
In addition to conducting regular beach clean-ups, the Bank has signed up with a registered e-waste disposal company to hand over all company e-waste.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all businesses to make operational changes, some of which proved to be good for the environment. Are there any particular measures DFCC Bank adapted due to COVID-19 that turned out to be environmentally friendly?
With regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, early decisions and quick changes in processes have allowed for a smooth transition into digitalization for DFCC, resulting in environmental benefits as a by-product. The Bank has been able to launch many digital products and services over the past two months, all whilst aligning these launches with our Sustainability Division for optimal benefits to all our stakeholders. DFCC Bank is committed to evolving in whichever way it can to guarantee a smooth customer experience even during trying times such as these.
What are future plans of the Sustainability Division?
DFCC Bank remains committed to protecting and preserving the environment. Therefore, the Sustainability Division intends to incorporate sustainability aspects to all operations of the Bank in order to reduce its carbon footprint. We believe these efforts, as well as the sustainability initiatives that it plans to implement across the country, will make a positive contribution to the environment.
The Sustainability Division will also play a key role in the future by implementing the 11 Sustainable Banking Principles of the Sri Lanka Banks’ Association (SLBA) across the Bank. In addition, the division will focus on social & environmental adherence of projects that it finances through the implementation of the SEMS.
How has customer feedback been on these initiatives by the Sustainability Division?
Our customers are the strength behind our brand. Even with regard to the Bank’s sustainability initiatives, our customers have been fully supportive and have found these initiatives to be very beneficialespecially during this difficult time. As the ‘Bank for Everyone’, DFCC Bank remains committed to its customers and the country at large, playing our role as a responsible corporate citizen.
Lakshman Silva – Director / CEO DFCC Bank PLC