Kuala Lumpur, 14 March 2022 – As part of its sustainability journey and environmental management, Hong Leong Bank (“HLB” or the “Bank”) has kick-started its mangrove swamp ecosystem rehabilitation and conservation project with the Malaysian Nature Society (“MNS”). Together with MNS, HLB will help in the restoration of 15 hectares of degraded forest land by planting approximately 50,000 new mangrove trees in the Kuala Selangor Nature Park over the next three years as part of the Bank’s commitment to help mitigate climate change, and offset its own operations environmental impact.
The mangrove forest environmental management initiative is a considered approach given the valuable and highly productive ecosystem that mangroves provide. Their widely acknowledged capability is to sequester substantial carbon emissions. They have their own circular ecosystem with a multiplier effect in conserving the environment and cultivating more sub-ecosystems. This is also in addition to, sustaining community livelihoods and wildlife. A healthy and established mangrove ecosystem supports habitats that are critical to preserve rich biodiversity, provide environmental protection against land erosion for example. They also offer socio-economic and commercial benefits including fisheries, timber and tourism.
Domenic Fuda, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of HLB commented, “Sustainability, climate change and environmental degradation have become major concerns over the past decade. To mitigate the impact on the environment, people’s lives and livelihoods, and to build greater community resilience, actions and adjustments are required from all of us. As a Financial Institution, we are cognisant of the need to incorporate ESG considerations into our banking activities, as well as, our own operations, so that we help direct resources that will build environmental and economic resiliency. Initiatives such as this one with MNS makes our sustainability journey more holistic and overtime yield tangible results that rehabilitate and conserve the environment and contribute towards the overall sustainability of the environment and socio-economic conditions for the surrounding communities.
“Whilst much more needs to be done, this is a starting point in the journey to achieve our carbon neutral ambitions, and helping to achieve the right balance between the 3 pillars of sustainability - people, planet and the bottom line.”
The Bank has also taken steps to strengthen its lending/financing sustainability practices by introducing its Business & Corporate Banking Environment, Social & Governance (“ESG”) Framework in 2020. The Framework serves as a foundation to guide the Bank ESG considerations in the credit evaluation of its SME and Corporate customers, helping to ensure that our customers’ own business operations are also contributing to the sustainable ecosystem of businesses, communities and the environment.
HLB is also upgrading its energy system in its buildings and branches to optimise consumption of energy. Increasingly, operational processes and customer interactions are digital driven, reducing travel, use of paper etc. supporting the carbon neutrality journey. On the business front, HLB has introduced climate-positive and green financing, which focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for both business and individual customers. Since 2018, the Bank has identified renewable energy as a growth opportunity and has set up a dedicated team of renewable energy specialists to build up this portfolio. To date, it has approved over RM2.3 billion in renewable energy financing for solar, biomass, biogas and small hydropower projects.
Shanmugaraj Subramaniam, Executive Director of Malaysian Nature Society said, “Addressing climate change and its impacts demands collective action from all. With that, we are very excited to work closely with Hong Leong Bank in supporting their carbon-neutral ambitions through planting and conserving the mangrove forest in Kuala Selangor Nature Park. Many of our valuable mangrove forests are under threat of extinction due to anthropogenic factors such as illegal logging, pollution and widespread coastal development. This initiative will help protect and nurture a uniquely important ecosystem that enables good carbon sequestration, protects coastal areas and controls erosion as well as provide economic resources in timber and fisheries. More importantly, it is crucial in contributing to the mitigation of climate change impacts.”