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PRB Anniversary – two years of sustainability progress

Two years ago, in September 2019, SEB became one of the founding signatories of the UNEP FI Principles for Responsible Banking, a UN initiative that is regarded as central to engaging the financial industry to contribute to the sustainability transition. So, what progress has SEB made since the bank signed the principles?

“During these two years we have taken major steps forward, focusing on supporting our customers in their transition, on product innovation and integrating sustainability in our own business”, says Hans Beyer, Chief Sustainability Officer.

The purpose with the principles is to ensure that banks engage and contribute to a future-proofed society. By signing the principles SEB has committed to, for example, aligning the business strategy to contribute to the goals of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals , increasing positive and reducing negative impacts from its financing and investment activities and implement commitment through effective governance.

Here is a summary of some of the more noticeable actions and achievements:

  • Launched the Sustainable Banking organisation, which gathers the knowledge and expertise that contributes to supporting our customers and drives the integration of sustainability within the bank.
  • Introduced the customer sustainability classification model through which we assess our corporate customers’ current climate impacts as well as their future transition plans. This allows us to support companies in transition with services and financing for potential investment needs. It also enables SEB to measure and report on the aggregate climate impact of the credit portfolio and to set strategic goals for shifting and aligning SEB’s activities with the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement.
  • Served as advisor in the issuance of a large number of green and sustainability-linked bonds and loans, among them the Swedish government’s issuance of its first sovereign green bond and as sole structural advisor in Daimler’s creation of a green framework for financing its shift to a zero-emission vehicle fleet. We helped the Asian Development Bank issuing a Gender Bond of NOK 2 billion. SEB has also been central in the development of the framework for sustainability-linked bonds.
  • In the Prospera customer survey 2021, SEB was rated number one in total among both companies and institutions in the Nordic region for sustainability advice.
  • We were first in the Nordic's to offer sustainability-linked supply chain financing.
  • We were first in Sweden to launch a green savings account.
  • Strengthened our expertise within the EU regulatory development.
  • Strengthened policies such as on fossil fuel. This policy includes a roadmap for how SEB will phase out exposure to coal and unconventional oil and for how we will continue to gradually reduce our credit exposure to fossil fuels within the oil- and gas sector.
  • SEB Investment Management adopted a new sustainability policy with increased ambitions through both engagement and exclusion with the goal that the entire investment portfolio will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.
  • We signed the UN initiative Net Zero Banking Alliance through which we commit to set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions of lending and investment activities that are in line with the Paris agreement.
  • For employees a mandatory training on climate change was launched.
  • Strengthened focus on financial equality, in customer advice, in marketing campaigns and in our support for entrepreneurs.

Hans Beyer concludes:

“These are achievements that we all really should be proud of, but we must remember that the expectations on us from customers, investors, future employees and society are high. With the new sustainability strategy supporting SEB 2030 strategy, we accelerate the pace towards our main long-term target - to be a leading catalyst in the transition to a sustainable society”.