The Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) principles of sustainable finance and sustainable banking are intended to describe fundamental pillars of sustainable banking:
Principle 1. Triple bottom line approach at the heart of the business model.
Sustainable banks integrate this approach by focusing simultaneously on people, planet and prosperity. Products and services are designed and developed to meet the needs of people and safeguard the environment; generating reasonable profit is recognized as an essential requirement of sustainable banking but is not a stand-alone objective. Importantly, sustainable banks embrace an intentional approach to triple-bottom-line business – they don’t just avoid doing harm, they actively use finance to do good.
Principle 2. Grounded in communities, serving the real economy and enabling new business models to meet the needs of both.
Sustainable banks serve the communities in which they work. They meet the financial needs of these geographic and sector-based communities by financing sustainable enterprise in productive economies.
Principle 3. Long-term relationships with clients and a direct understanding of their economic activities and the risks involved.
Sustainable banks establish strong relationships with their clients and are directly involved in understanding and analysing their economic activities and assisting them to become more sustainable themselves. Proper risk analysis is used at product origination so that indirect risk management tools are neither adopted as a substitute for fundamental analysis nor traded for their own sake.
Principle 4. Long-term, self-sustaining, and resilient to outside disruptions.
Sustainable banks adopt a long-term perspective to make sure they can maintain their operations and be resilient in the face of external disruptions. At the same time they recognize that no bank, or its clients, is entirely immune to such disruptions.
Principle 5. Transparent and inclusive governance.
Sustainable banks maintain a high degree of transparency and inclusiveness in governance and reporting. In this context, inclusiveness means an active relationship with a bank’s extended stakeholder community, and not only its shareholders or management.
Principle 6. All of these principles embedded in the culture of the bank.
Sustainable banks seek to embed these principles in the culture of their institutions so that they are routinely used in decision-making at all levels. Recognizing that the process of embedding these values requires deliberate effort, these banks develop human resources policies that reflect their values-based approach (including innovative incentive and evaluation systems for staff), and develop stakeholder-oriented practices to encourage sustainable business models. These banks also have specific reporting frameworks to demonstrate their financial and non- financial impact.