Today, the factors that shape a bank’s reputation go far beyond its financial performance. Amid the ongoing debate about the role of business in society, banks are being scrutinized ever more closely on their contribution to wider society – often with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) used as a benchmark for responsible behavior and positive impacts.

It’s against this background that the Social, Sustainable, & Responsible Banking category of the Banking Innovation Awards is judged. The award recognizes innovations that demonstrate a bank’s commitment to addressing social issues like inclusion and diversity, supporting the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and helping to protect the environment.

This year the award went to bank that has certainly gone the extra mile in the last of these areas. The winner was BNP Paribas Corporate & Institutional Banking in the UK for ClimateSeed – a digital voluntary carbon-offsetting platform that helps connect organizations with tangible sustainable projects, thus supporting efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Headquartered in France, BNP Paribas has been integrating sustainability into all its business lines for some time – and ClimateSeed is a fantastic example of how innovation and sustainability together can accelerate positive impacts. The user-friendly ClimateSeed digital marketplace connects businesses looking to offset their carbon emissions and contribute to the achievement of the UN SDGs, with project developers offering voluntary carbon credits and seeking funding.

ClimateSeed’s entire project, business plan, and articles of association have been reviewed by Grameen Creative Lab, a leader in helping organizations create “social purpose businesses” to meet society’s most pressing needs. As this type of business, ClimateSeed reinvests its profits to maximize its environmental and social impacts. Combining the financial and operational strength of a global top-tier bank, the agility of a start-up, and the legitimacy of a social purpose business, ClimateSeed is now working to develop a network of international partnerships to maximize the social and environmental benefits it generates.

The Silver award in this category went to Poland’s PKO Bank Polski for its AI-enabled Emotional Banking capability, and Bronze was awarded to Commonwealth Bank of Australia for its Benefits Finder solution.

In my next blog, I’ll look at the Workforce Experience category.

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