Towards a greener and more inclusive society

Ricardo Laiseca, Head of Global Sustainability Office at BBVA

The fight against climate change is the greatest disruption in history. It will spur enormous changes for our planet and for humankind, radically changing our economies and our society. It is therefore  vital to make the energy transition happen, increasing the use of electricity as an energy source, and changing once and for all, other aspects of our daily lives, such as the way we build our homes or how we move around.

“Climate change is a global challenge, the greatest disruption in history. It goes beyond borders and sectors. It affects all of us”

We are all needed. And we are all accountable. The financial system also has a relevant role to play in fighting climate change. This transformation requires significant investment in new technologies which will help push the transition forward. It is estimated that approximately 5 billion dollars in funding will be required every year for decades to come. And although there will be significant public resources, the bulk of the investment will come from the private sector.

BBVA’s firm commitment to sustainability is possibly one of the most straightforward ways of materializing its purpose: “Bringing the age of opportunity to everyone”, which aims to generate a positive impact on people’s lives, businesses and society. BBVA’s commitment to sustainability dates far back, to 2002, when it joined the United Nations’ Global Compact. It was renewed  in 2019, when the Board of Directors decided to make sustainability a key pillar of the Group’s strategy and defined it as a strategic priority to “help our clients transition towards a more sustainable future.” 

In April 2021, BBVA joined the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA), committing to ensure that all of its credit and investment portfolios are neutral in net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement’s  most ambitious targets. We have elaborated an ambitious execution plan to make this commitment a reality:

  • Sustainable finance origination: from 2018 to March 2021, the bank has originated 59 billion euros. It is more than half of the initial goal to finance 100 billion euros by 2025.  
  • Portfolio alignment with the Paris Agreement: in 2021, BBVA will publish its decarbonization targets. We have already announced that we will reduce to zero our exposure to coal-related activities, stopping the financing of companies in this sector by 2030 in developed countries, and by 2040 in the rest of the countries in our footprint.
  • Reduction of our own emissions: increasing the share of renewable energy consumption to 70% by 2025. As of 2020, BBVA is neutral in direct carbon emissions through the offsetting of emissions with projects to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • Increasing transparency: integrating sustainability into our corporate reporting. In our 2020 Annual Report, we provided comprehensive information on BBVA’s progress in sustainability, complying with the most advanced reporting standards in the market.

Ricardo Laiseca, Head of Global Sustainability Office at BBVA

BBVA is one of the most prepared banks to tackle this global challenge, leveraging its digitalization strategy which it has been rolling out over the past several years. The Group is positioned as the market leader in this area. Sustainability and digitalization go hand in hand, facilitating sustainable solutions to clients in a more agile manner, enabling accurate identification of risks and opportunities from climate change and fostering customized solutions. For example, we have launched an online tool to enable our clients to measure their own carbon footprint, i.e., how much greenhouse gases their business activity generates, based on their electricity, gas and fuel expenses. Customers can also receive personalized tips on how to enhance their energy efficiency.

The fight against climate change is a top priority. The Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, warns us that time is running out: “This is a pivotal year for humanity, now is the time for decisive and effective action.” But it is vital that nobody is left behind in the process. We must ensure a fair transition, building a more inclusive society and using financing and advisory as a means to support the most vulnerable. Sustainability is not just climate change, we must take its full social dimension into consideration.

Aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, BBVA stimulates inclusive economic growth, by financing infrastructure, supporting entrepreneurship and full employment, and fostering financial inclusion through access to basic financial services for the unbanked.

In all of these goals, the BBVA Microfinance Foundation plays a fundamental role. It supports the vulnerable population by promoting entrepreneurship and decent, equitable livelihoods. It is recognized by the OECD as the top philanthropic contributor to development and gender equality in Latin America, and second in the world only behind the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.