By Harlin Singh, Head of Sustainable Investing
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Sustainability goes to the very heart of Citi’s commitment to our clients, shareholders, and communities. The recently published Environmental, Social and Governance Report 2019 sets out why and how
By instinct, Citi Private Bank clients are makers of progress. They typically feel a relentless drive to help improve the world around them in whichever ways they can. Many do so by innovating in their businesses and creating opportunities for those in their communities and far beyond. Many give back to society in a variety of other ways, including philanthropic endeavors and advocacy for important causes. From our many conversations with our clients every day, it is also clear that they are increasingly passionate about driving positive societal change through their investment portfolios. Indeed, for a growing number, such sustainable investing is now integral to their identity as global citizens.
The positive societal change that our global citizen clients seek to drive takes many forms. These include contributing to action against climate change, enabling the adoption of clean energy, and using natural resources more responsibly. They also aim to bring about a fairer and better world by enhancing access to education, employment, and to the most basic needs such as clean water, food, and healthcare, particularly for vulnerable communities in the developing world. They aspire to raising corporate standards in areas such as transparency and accountability, as well as in management and workforce diversity.
The Private Bank and the wider Citi proudly share our clients’ values. As an organization, we feel a profound responsibility to the communities and countries where we do business, to our employees and suppliers, and to society as a whole. By focusing upon all our stakeholders – rather than simply upon our shareholders – we strongly believe that we can achieve better outcomes for all. Citi’s recently published Environmental, Social and Governance Report 2019 sets out the actions we are taking to effect positive and meaningful change in the world around us. We’re pleased to share some of its highlights with you here.
There are few greater long-term challenges facing the world today than that of climate change. Not only does it represent an existential threat to human life and natural habitats, but also to economic activity. By contributing to action against climate change, we can thus not only safeguard our clients and our communities, but also their businesses and livelihoods.
In 2015, Citi announced our $100 Billion Environmental Finance Goal. This is a commitment to finance and facilitate $100bn toward environmental solutions and activities that reduce the impacts of climate change around the world. In 2019, Citi reached and surpassed our goal four years early. Indeed, by year- end, we had provided $164bn. The solutions we financed around the world had measurable environmental benefits. For example, they helped avoid 11.8m metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. They supported almost 200,000 jobs, served more than 95m US residents with water quality projects, and added 6,869 megawatts of renewable energy capacity.
Just as Citi’s financing is helping to foster innovative environmental solutions, Citi is contributing to innovations in that financing itself. In 2019, our organization was involved in the world’s first bond issue linked to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. If the borrower – the Italian utility Enel – does not increase its renewable installed energy capacity and lower its greenhouse gas emissions by specified amounts by the end of 2021, it will face higher interest rate costs.
Working towards a fairer world is at the heart of Citi’s own global citizenship. We passionately believe that promoting diversity is not only morally right, but leads to better outcomes for everyone. In the workplace, diversity and equality of opportunity can create more vibrant idea-generation and greater insight into our customers’ needs. Seeking to close the gender pay gap is an important part of this process. Citi now publishes our raw gender pay gap and what we are doing to close this gap. Our organization is also using data-driven insights to inform how we increase female and minority representation in senior roles.
There is a growing recognition that the world should aspire to more than simply restoring normality after the present pandemic. Put simply, we need to build back better. Citi, of course, is already committed to financing many of the areas that will be key to this goal, such as vital infrastructure, affordable housing, and small business development. To give just one example, the report shows that Citi provided the most loans for US affordable housing for the tenth year running, totaling more than $6bn in 2019.
In addition to financing the coming recovery efforts, our people will continue actively supporting key initiatives in our communities worldwide. Citi has committed to build upon the nearly one million hours contributed by Citi volunteers in our communities during 2019. On our annual Global Community Day, 120,000 Citi volunteers lent a hand in projects across 400 cities across ninety countries.
As well as our own sustainability initiatives, Citi is equally committed to helping clients achieve their own environmental, social, and governance (ESG) objectives. These include transitioning their business models, constructing portfolios with and ESG focus, putting ESG-tagged funds to work, and positioning to capitalize on sustainability trends. Each of Citi’s businesses – Citi Private Bank, Markets and Securities Services, Treasury and Trade Services, and Banking, Capital Markets and Advisory – is developing a strategy to deliver ESG solutions that are as diverse as the needs of our corporate, institutional, government, and individual clients that we serve in 160 countries and territories
The cases here are but a small fraction of Citi’s initiatives in relation to sustainability. If you’d like to learn more, please take a look at our full Environmental, Social and Governance Report 2019 or the executive summary version. Details of Citi Private Bank’s approach to enabling our clients to seek positive societal change through their portfolios – Investing with Purpose – can be seen here.