The Commission on Human Rights on Monday lauded Banco de Oro Unibank Inc. (BDO) for its initiatives to help address the pervasive issue of climate change in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Philippines’ National Climate Change Action Plan.
Marla Garin-Alvarez, BDO vice president and Sustainability Office head, admitted that, as of yet, there are no “best practices” set in the financial industry when it comes to climate action.
The impetus to engage in the sustainability and climate movement stemmed from BDO’s realization that they had a crucial responsibility to affect positive impact on the environment and society, she said.
The company recognized that in the transition to a low carbon economy, a socially inclusive and just society must also be upheld, she added.BDO has become the first bank to approach the country’s independent national human rights institution to examine climate change issues and explore ways to mitigate them. Rio N. Araja
These discussions on human rights were eventually integrated into BDO’s code of conduct; existing policies on gender diversity and inclusion; supply chain ethical code; as well as employee volunteer programs which were held in partnership with non-government organizations.
BDO also released an energy transition finance statement in September 2022 and that it pledged to stop financing new coal projects and bring down their exposure to coal companies to 50 percent by 2030, which would lower their entire lending portfolio for coal to no more than 2 percent.
BDO has also been a pioneer for renewable energy financing in the country even issuing the first green bond in East Asia and the Pacific region.
“This diverse energy mix [of geothermal, solar, wind, biomass and hydro energy] can take on the high level energy generation and base load requirements equivalent to coal,” the bank official said.
“As CHR continues to mainstream its report on the National Inquiry on Climate Change and its corresponding recommendations to government, policy makers, civil society and the business sector, we underscore that climate action must be a whole-of-society collaboration. Citizens can only do so much when the primary responsibility and resources to respond to the climate crisis falls on the State and carbon majors,” the agency said.
“As such, the Commission hopes that more private entities follow the strides made by BDO and take the side of human rights—promoting not only humanity’s harmonious relationship with the environment but also the dignity of all,” it added.