Driving the industry shift

More and more countries put ambitious transition strategies in place to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. UBS is on track to meet tough sustainability targets.

Having been among the first financial institutions to officially announce commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the framework set forth by the United Nations for addressing the world’s most pressing environmental and societal challenges – we at UBS have been thinking ahead for years, changing the way we do business. We see a strong business rationale for catering to the growing importance of and demand for sustainability. And we recognize that it is important to understand the challenges as well as the opportunities arising from the SDGs, to consider their relevance to UBS and to identify potential actions our firm may need to take.

Climate change is clearly one of the most significant challenges. In order to maintain the momentum for supporting the shift from fossil-based to climate-smart industry, we allocate our knowledge, resources and expertise to weigh up the new level of complexity investors are facing.

We help others do more and …

As one of the largest global wealth managers, we have a responsibility to take a leading role in shaping a positive future. It is our goal to be the financial provider of choice for clients who wish to mobilize capital toward the achievement of specific environmental or social outcomes. We have touchpoints to the SDGs across our entire firm. By the end of 2019, we had directed USD 3.9 billion of client assets into impact investments tied to the SDGs. Our goal is to reach USD 5 billion in commitments by the end of 2021.

On climate action, our Asset Management division, for example, has a climate engagement strategy that seeks to monitor and influence the corporate conduct of the companies we invest in. In a little over a year, we were able to help nudge almost 50 of the biggest energy-consuming and fossil-fuel-exhausting companies into adopting more stringent corporate policies and practices on climate change.

… lead through our own actions

Making a difference is not only about helping clients take actions to reduce their risk exposure and helping them identify strategic opportunities arising from changing regulations. It’s also about striving to be a role model yourself. As a global bank, we’re aware of our responsibilities. And we start at our own doorstep by taking a leading role in reducing our own environmental footprint: we’ve more than halved the miles flown worldwide in the last 13 years and offset 100% of flight emissions with the support of international wind power projects. Moreover, by the middle of 2020, we’ll source 100% of our electricity consumption from renewable sources, reducing our greenhouse gas footprint by 75% compared to 2004. Already our total paper consumption is at an all-time low, and 83% of our paper is now from recycled sources or FSC-certified. Additionally, to reduce waste and increase the amount of recycled and reused products, in 2019 we eliminated all disposable kitchen items and encouraged employees to bring their own reusable coffee mugs and water bottles. Through these activities, we reduced waste per FTE in our firm by 11%.

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