Powering Turkey with renewables

Adopting sustainability through a number of products and services, Garanti Bank has a strong social responsibility that extends its reach far beyond the boardroom, writes the bank’s Senior Vice President for Project and Acquisition Finance and Sustainability, Emre Hatem


From a country-specific point of view, Turkey’s social and environmental challenges mainly result from a rapidly growing population and increased resource consumption. As Turkey’s second largest bank, Garanti is aware of the importance of the financial sector’s role in Turkey’s sustainable development, and therefore attaches great importance to embedding sustainability in its
business operations.

Pioneering approach to sustainability
Defining sustainability as “meeting the needs of today’s generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, Garanti has gradually re-organised its sustainability-related efforts within a systematic structure and developed a comprehensive sustainability approach.

In order to better embed sustainability polices in its business operations and decision-making processes, the bank has established a “Sustainability Committee”, chaired by a board member. The establishment of a full-time sustainability team under the Project and Acquisition Finance Department subsequently followed this. The team is responsible for the coordination of all sustainability related activities.

Sustainability representatives began to be elected in departments, regional directorates and branches, with a duty of working in coordination with the sustainability team. With the help of a more efficient organisational structure, Garanti Bank has worked to improve its corporate sustainability reporting and became the first Turkish bank to receive A rating from Global Reporting Initiative with its latest Sustainability Report in 2013.

Garanti Bank’s sustainability approach extends from the basis of its corporate governance structure, which allows for the generation of permanent value for all stakeholders, under four main topics; customers, human resources, social responsibility and the environment.

The first topic is mainly based on achieving sustainability throughout the entire “customer” service cycle.

Sustainability has been adopted in a number of products and services in various business lines, ranging from SME banking to retail banking and project finance. Listening to customers, identifying their needs and addressing areas where they are not satisfied are the cornerstones of the customer experience process offered by Garanti.

The Net Savings Account, Environmentally Friendly Bonus Card, Agricultural Sector Support Package, Full Support Program, Support For Women Entrepreneurs are all examples of the sustainable credit or deposit products of Garanti.

Apart from extending funds, Garanti supports its customers’ financial education through several channels and includes activities encouraging entrepreneurship such as: SME informative meetings, Facebook SME meetings, Turkey’s woman entrepreneur competition, woman entrepreneur gatherings, and Anatolia meetings. Garanti has also launched an initiative aimed at providing its disabled customers with easier access to banking services.

Designing programmes
Garanti views its human resources as the guarantee of its sustainable and efficient growth, and continues to progress with the success, determination and creativity of people who believe in innovation, adopt the target of superior quality, seek to cooperate, eager to improve both themselves and others.

In order to improve the employees’ positive contribution to Garanti’s sustainability performance, Garanti formed a new category for environment under “Onersen”, a platform where employees can submit their suggestions regarding all activities of the bank. A sustainability e-learning programme for all employees was designed with the aim of raising awareness on the issue. Defining social responsibility as its natural responsibility to the society, Garanti has been carrying out systematic and long-term programmes in order to generate a significant amount of value added for the environment and society.

Those programmes are implemented in a number of different areas, ranging from sports to education, nature and arts. Garanti has been contributing to the conservation efforts of nature in Turkey as the main sponsor of WWF Turkey for 18 years. Another important social responsibility project of Garanti Bank is “ No limits in teaching”, which has the aims of responding to the needs of teachers who will contribute to raise the young generation.

Controlling emissions effectively
Globally, populations are struggling to solve a large number of environmental problems.

Garanti is undertaking systematic projects to control both its direct and indirect environmental impacts, while contributing to the environment via financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Concerning the impacts of the bank’s activities, products and services, Garanti established a holistic Environmental Management System, which is certified to ISO14001 and covers both direct and indirect impacts arising from suppliers, and loans extended. Garanti has been measuring its carbon footprint since 2009 and implementing an array of initiatives in order to manage its greenhouse gas emissions. As a result of its unique approach to climate change management, Garanti was given the 2012 Turkey – Carbon Performance Leadership award by CDP-Turkey in 2012.

To control its indirect impacts, Garanti has been applying its Environmental and Social Loan Policies to all loans without any monetary limit. Additionally, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Process including Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Model has been implemented for greenfield projects with an investment amount above $20m. Based on the categorisation and assessment under ESIAM, Garanti Bank determines the risk group of projects and requests the borrower to take specific actions during the project appraisal. If the project is determined to be a high risk project, Garanti asks an independent consultant to prepare a comprehensive report regarding the project’s environmental and social impacts and also to develop, apply and regularly report an environmental and social management plan.

With this process, Garanti has achieved significant progress towards compliance with the Equator Principles. In order to spread its approach to other deposit Banks in Turkey, Garanti has organised an Environmental and Social Risk Assessment training jointly with UNEP-FI and a Sustainable Finance Conference together with UN Global Compact, UNEP-FI and the Turkish Business Council for Sustainable Development this year.

As part of its commitment to product and service innovation, Garanti is positioning as a leader in meeting the needs of the transition to a low-carbon economy. In 2012, Garanti has increased the total financing provided to the WPPs and HEPPs to more than $3bn, which is nearly half of the amount allocated to energy projects.

Garanti has conservatively estimated that the operational wind farms and hydroelectic power plants that it financed will collectively reduce carbon emissions by 2.63 million metric tonnes of CO2 per year, based on the current average grid factor for Turkey.

Garanti offers its greatest support to wind farm projects because they reduce Turkey’s current account deficit, and have minimal impact on the environment and society. Despite the difficulties in terms of creating and implementing a sustainability framework and policy within the country, Garanti has developed a comprehensive sustainability approach and will continue to devise new initiatives on sustainability and take part in building a sustainable future both at national and international scales.

For more information www.garanti.com.tr/en/our_company/sustainability.page;
email: sustainability@garanti.com.tr