FT/IFC Sustainable Finance Awards: Promoting Innovation or Greenwash?

FT IFC Sustainable Finance Awards

On June 13, 2013, the Financial Times and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) announced the winners of the 2013 FT/IFC Sustainable Finance Awards. These awards went to M-KOPA of Kenya winning the Award for Excellence in Sustainable Finance, Banco Santander taking the Sustainable Global Bank of the Year transaction prize, and Impax Asset Management of the UK recognized as Sustainable Investor of the Year. 

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p27qSt-yt

The 2013 Awards, now in the 8th year, attracted a record 254 entries from 164 financial institutions and 57 non-financial groups in 62 countries. The awards also highlight partnerships between financial and non-financial companies such as technology firms and infrastructure groups that are finding innovative and commercially viable solutions to some of the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges.

A new thematic category for 2013 is Achievement in Inclusive Business, which highlights ground-breaking initiatives by companies and financial partners that incorporate people at the Base of the Pyramid into their value chain as suppliers, distributors, retailers or customers.

The 2013 winners and special commendations in each category are reproduced below. What I like about the FT/IFC Sustainable Finance Awards is that, unlike some sustainability awards which tend to celebrate ‘the usual suspects’ (see blog here), you come across new entrants and ideas.

Of course, any award involving big brands and ideas provides also a stage for other social media savvy groups to make their voices heard. NGO BankTrack, which has been zooming in on Equator Banks, issued a statement that “there's no such thing as a "Sustainable Global Bank" just yet”. BankTrack noted that Santander, which was announced as the winner of the FT/IFC Sustainable Global Bank of the Year award, has invested over one billion euros in sales and production of weapons over the last ten years by supporting BAE Systems, EADS, Finmeccanica, Thales, Honeywell and Lockheed Martin.

Do you feel such awards promote and encourage sustainable finance and commercially viable solutions to some of the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges, or are they serving mainly as a vehicle for ‘green washing’?

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The 2013 FT/IFC Sustainable Finance Awards winners and special commendations in each category:

Sustainable Bank of the Year

  • Regional winner Africa/Middle East: Standard Bank, South Africa
    • Special Commendation for Leadership in the Middle East: Bank of Palestine
  • Regional winner Americas: Banco Santander Brasil, Brazil
  • Regional winner Asia/Pacific: Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Japan
  • Regional winner Europe: GLS Bank, Germany
    • Special Commendation for Leadership in Eastern Europe: Center-Invest Bank, Russia
  • Sustainable Global Bank of the Year (transactional): Banco Santander, Spain

Sustainable Investor of the Year

  • Winner: Impax Asset Management, UK 
  • Special Commendation: LeapFrog Investments, Mauritius

Sustainable Investment of the Year

  • Winner: WHEB Partners and Resysta International, Germany

Technology in Sustainable Finance

  • Winner: M-KOPA, Kenya
  • Special Commendation: Etisalat, UAE

Achievement in Inclusive Business

  • Joint Winners: Kenya Tea Development Agency, and Universitaria Minuto de Dios, Colombia 

Achievement in Impact Investing (special award supported by UK Department for International Development)

  • Winner: Root Capital, USA

Excellence in Sustainable Finance

  • Winner: M-KOPA, Kenya