Interview with Antoni Ballabriga, Global Head of Responsible Business, BBVA
Feb 26, 2018
Climate Action had the pleasure of speaking with Antoni Ballabriga about BBVA's activities in the responsible investment world.
BBVA is the largest financial institution in Spain and Mexico. Do you want to introduce the company to our readers?
BBVA is a customer‑centric global financial services group founded in 1857. The Group is the largest financial institution in Spain and Mexico and it has leading franchises in South America and the Sunbelt Region of the United States; and it is also the leading shareholder in Garanti, Turkey’s biggest bank for market capitalization. Its diversified business is focused on high‑growth markets and it relies on technology as a key sustainable competitive advantage. Responsible banking is the way we do business based on the highest integrity, a long‑ term vision and applying the best practices
Why do you think sustainable investing is the future? What is your experience so far?
There is currently a broad consensus about two of the greatest challenges facing humanity: the global warming of the planet and the need for sustainable development. The objectives set by the Paris Climate Accord and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 mark the global agenda in the efforts to tackle both challenges.
At BBVA, we are totally convinced that we are living an inflection point on these issues and we are aware of the vital role that financial institutions must play to help mobilize the funds necessary to achieve these goals.
We already have strong experience managing environmental & social risks and providing customer solutions to help them in their transition to a low carbon economy and to contribute to the SDGs. In fact we were one of the banks participating in first green bond on 2007.
Last year we were the most active player in green & social bonds in Spain and a clear worldwide first mover on green loans. BBVA led the world’s first green syndicated financing in term loan format for Tradebe (€265 Million), the first green loan with a project finance structure worldwide together with IDB for Terna (US$56 Million) and the largest green loan worldwide for Iberdrola (€5.300 Million).
On green bonds, BBVA led the biggest-ever green bond issued by a UK company and acted as green structuring bank for SSE’s inaugural bond, the largest producer of renewable energy in the UK (€600 Million).
Have you faced any challenges so far? How did you overcome them?
The main challenge is how to systematically embed these emerging risks & opportunities into our decision-making processes. We think that it’s critical to have a holistic approach focusing on three pillars:
- To finance: we want to create the scale of capital mobilization to halt global climate change & attain the UN Sustainable Development Goals
- To manage: we manage our environmental & social risks to minimize potential negative direct & indirect impacts
- To engage: we engage with all our stakeholders to collectively promote the contribution of financial industry to sustainable development
One key initiative is the implementation the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations. We think it will be a clear milestone in the long journey of integrating sustainability & financial performance.
This year you are sponsoring the inaugural Sustainable Investment Forum Europe. What made you get involved and what are your expectations for the event?
As I said, for us it’s key to engage with all stakeholders. In this sense, it is very important to show commitment and give transparency to the investors’ community. Last 3 years we have received a growing number of requests on environmental & social issues. They are gaining relevance in investment decisions, especially for those who have long-term horizons.
The Sustainable Investment Forum is an excellent opportunity for us to reinforce this engagement with leading long-term investors.