Report finds ‘total transformation’ needed if banks are to be fit for purpose in a just and sustainable world

A new report shares new lessons from bank insiders taking action on climate change.

A new report published by the Finance Innovation Lab and Climate Safe Lending Network which shares key insights from banking professionals working to help their institutions take greater climate action finds that banks need a total transformation of their sense of purpose to address the climate crisis. 

The report, Catalysing Bank Climate Action – Lessons from the Inside, shares raw, honest learning from those banking professionals – or ‘climate intrapreneurs’ – about the barriers and enablers they face internally while working to advance the climate agenda within their institutions. The report contains anonymous quotes, case studies and cross-cutting themes from the first ever cohort of the Climate Safe Lending Fellowship – a leadership development programme working with over 20 banking professionals from banks across the globe. 

Download the report.

Report co-author Lydia Hascott,  Head of Intrapreneurship at the Finance Innovation Lab, said: “The ultimate purpose of banks is to finance an economy that enables human thriving on a flourishing planet. There is growing recognition of the impact that banks have on the real economy through their lending and investment, and particularly their outsized role in financing the fossil fuel extraction and deforestation that is driving climate breakdown. 

“Climate tends to be a technical strategy within banks, often sitting separate from core business strategy. What we’ve found is that to truly align bank financing with a just and regenerative economy, total transformation of a bank’s strategy, operations and culture is required. Touching more than just products and services alone, the necessary approach changes everything from policies and processes to resource allocation, decision-making, mindset and culture.”

The report finds the three key things needed for this transformation are:

  • The integration of climate into all business decision-making – throughout ‘business as usual’
  • To position the sustainability team as enablers of others throughout the bank (from doers to enablers)
  • To build climate capability into all roles across the bank, through training and access to resources

Natalie Tucker, report co-author and Programme Manager of the Climate Safe Lending Fellowship, said: “The role that banks play in the climate crisis can’t be understated. But the great news is that there is a growing number of deeply concerned and committed banking professionals who are fighting for change inside their institutions. These ‘climate intrapreneurs’ are applying new tactics to accelerate climate action, and these have been distilled within this report to help others learn from – and contribute to – this hugely important work.”

The report also includes suggestions from these bank insiders to those on the outside, particularly campaigners, playing their own role in accelerating the climate transition within banking. 

To explore the report in full, click here.

The report launch also marks the opening of applications for the second cohort of the pioneering Climate Safe Lending Fellowship Programme. The first ‘taster event’ for those interested in finding out more will be held on 27 July – to find out more, visit here.