Financial giant HSBC commits to further protecting World Heritage sites

14 April 2014 | News story

HSBC has issued a new policy on World Heritage sites and Ramsar Wetlands, strengthening its commitment not to provide financial support to projects that can threaten these exceptional areas.

The banking and financial giant had already developed a strategy in 2006 to help its clients combat climate change. Its energy sector policy then vetoed direct support to operations in World Heritage sites, as well as in sensitive areas such as Ramsar Wetlands, Primary Tropical Moist Forest, High Conservation Value Forest and Critical Natural Habitats.

Now HSBC has released a specific ‘World Heritage Sites and Ramsar Wetlands Policy’, addressed to all business customers involved in major projects and citing forestry, agriculture, mining, energy, property and infrastructure development as particularly high-risk sectors.

The policy states that HSBC does not wish to support projects that could result in a site being inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger; or in the special characteristics of a Ramsar Wetland being threatened.

In addition, it urges HSBC global businesses to make appropriate enquiries and bans them from knowingly providing financial services directly supporting projects that threaten the special characteristics of these sites and wetlands.

It also mentions an internal guidance note, advising the firm’s global businesses to proceed cautiously where a change in the boundary of a site or wetland is proposed to accommodate a new project.

The new 'World Heritage Sites and Ramsar Wetlands Policy' is part of HSBC’s approach to sustainability.

Read the policy in full:
http://www.hsbc.com/~/media/HSBC-com/citizenship/sustainability/pdf/hsbc-world-heritage-sites-and-ramsar-wetlands-policy-march-2014.pdf

Find out more about HSBC’s approach to sustainability:
http://www.hsbc.com/citizenship/sustainability