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WWF AND THE EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY HOLD THE FIRST COURSE ON SUSTAINABLE BANKING IN RUSSIA

15 february 2021
Why will banks have to focus on products that help solving social and environmental issues in the next few years? How can bankers protect themselves from losses associated with environmentally risky projects? What methods and tools for creating next-generation green banking products are there? These and many other questions were answered by WWF-Russia and the European University at St. Petersburg to the employees of Credit Bank of Moscow as part of the first course on green finance for banks in Russia

The course is based on an analysis of Russian bank regulation, global initiatives in the realm of green finance, and examples of banks and international financial institutions creating green products, successfully adapted to Russian realities.

In light of the rapid transition of European countries to carbon neutrality and taking into account the ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (at the end of 2020, most of the world's major nations pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by the middle of the century), it is obvious that Russia will have no choice but to participate in global green trends. This has to do with both the industries that form the basis of the country's economy and impending difficulties in attracting foreign investment. The Russian economic agenda is also greatly influenced by UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals, while the banking sector plays a special role in allocating funds to achieve these goals.

"On the eve of 2020, we conducted a joint study of the Russian banking sector with the European University at St. Petersburg and the National Rating Agency (NRA), and found out the current progress in green finance. A little more than a year passed before we began to fill the gaps that had been identified in the study and took the first practical steps towards turning bank portfolios green," says Mikhail Babenko, Head of Green Economy Program at WWF-Russia. "Our first training session happened to be held in a very appropriate time: it is now, when we look for a strategy to overcome the pandemic, that we should prioritize an economy that is more focused on ESG factors, which means that banks, as the main drivers of the economy, need to be aware of these factors for them to work effectively. After all, new banking products that are in demand among modern consumers must take into account the economic transformations brought about by 2020, which also means they need to be more focused on solving social and environmental issues."

Maxim Titov, Executive Director of ENERPO Research Center of the European University at St. Petersburg, noted the key role of banks in the context of achieving the sustainable development goals:

"It is very important that Credit Bank of Moscow considers responsible and green finance as part of its development strategy. This is in line with the global practice in the development of financial markets, and is also very important for achieving the sustainable development goals in Russia. The bank is already making much effort for the implementation of this strategy. On my part, I am very pleased to announce that the advanced training program on green and responsible finance that was jointly developed by the European University in St. Petersburg and WWF-Russia is in great demand among Russian banks."  

Natalia Bakhova, Head of Trade Finance Department at Credit Bank of Moscow, spoke on why responsible finance knowledge is important to the bank and how it sees its role in promoting the sustainable development agenda:

"Today, there is a trend of businesses all over the world transitioning to ESG principles, which can be briefly described as follows: a representative of any business should be concerned not only with their financial result, but also with making a positive impact on the environment, social issues, and governance. In this regard, we rank among the top 5 most progressive banks; we are also the first Russian bank to have an ESG rating. This reaffirms the fact that this direction has a strategic importance to us, and that teaching the team this knowledge, which is currently rare in the market, will play a key role in the development of our internal expertise for providing high-quality support to sustainable projects of our clients."

The first course on sustainable banking in Russia was held online. It includes 16 hours of webinars for bank employees who work in the field of green products and sustainable development. The course is organized in the form of lectures, tests, and business games, as well as implies live communication between participants and speakers. The training course is held with the participation of invited experts from international financial institutions and rating agencies.

Photo: (c) Dmitriy Chistoprudov / WWF-Russia

For additional information please contact
Green economy programme director