UBS in society

Driving change that matters

Enslaved at 19

Predators used social media to blackmail her into sex trafficking, in San Diego. Stories like hers inspired a new prevention More program to teach about human trafficking, and stop it from happening.

Protecting oceans

Life below water is one of the biggest influencers of life on land. Learn what threats face marine life, how we can address them More and how to tell if something sounds fishy.

Why we get involved

Driving change in the world needs leadership. As one of the world's largest wealth managers, we have a responsibility to take a leading role in shaping a positive future – for all of us and the generations to come.

We're developing new financial products that have positive impact on the environment and society. With partners and clients we're constantly innovating in the field of philanthropy. And we're continuously establishing new standards of doing business sustainably.

Video: Our CEO about why we signed the Principles for Responsible Banking

Myths and facts

Our climate strategy

Myth 1

UBS doesn’t care about the climate – the only thing it cares about is profit.

Fact

An intact climate is in everyone’s interest. We care about the negative consequences of climate change, which is why we have a climate strategy that applies across the entire bank and promote sustainability on many fronts. We understand that responsibly managing environment-related topics is directly connected to economic growth and the growth of our bank.

Myth 2

UBS isn’t interested in climate change, and especially not where investment strategies are concerned.

Fact

Wrong. We sold climate-related, sustainable investments worth USD 80 billion to clients last year. We know that climate change harbors risks for our clients. We’re outlining these risks and helping our clients to handle them in a responsible way. A notable example is our Climate Aware Fund. The portfolio is oriented toward companies that are better prepared for a low-carbon future. The fund reduces its exposure to, rather than excluding, companies with higher carbon risk. This allows us and our clients to have a dialogue with these companies in order to encourage their transition to a low-carbon economy. Asset Management has implemented an engagement program with 50 oil & gas and utilities companies underweighted in the fund.

Myth 3

UBS isn’t interested in efforts to transition to a low- carbon world. It actually benefits from doing business with climate offenders.

Fact

We have comprehensive standards for environmental and social risks that govern our relationships with our clients and suppliers, including clear criteria on what types of transactions we won’t finance. For example, we stopped financing companies in the palm oil industry years ago and in 2018 decided that we won’t finance new coal-fired power plants. We’ve drastically scaled back financing companies that have a negative impact on the climate – down 60% in 2018. It’s important for us to keep shifting towards sustainability in all of our decisions. Last year, we financed companies developing renewable energies with over USD 55 billion. We’ve found that we often get much further when we work together with companies (an example of this is our Asset Management engagement program) to engage in more sustainable strategies than just pulling out altogether.

Myth 4

UBS doesn’t feel compelled to take a leading role in greater climate protection.

Fact

On the contrary. We’re well aware of our responsibilities and want to take a leading role in climate protection. Starting of course at our own doorstep: we’ve halved the number of kilometers flown worldwide from one billion (2007) to 515 million (2018), for example, and offset 100% of flight emissions in the last 12 years. We’ve also committed to covering 100% of our energy needs from renewable sources by the end of 2020. This is already the case in Switzerland. Plus, we aim to be the leading provider of sustainable investment solutions, expanding our range of products and raising awareness among clients and investors.

Myth 5

By financing top “climate-killer” firms, Credit Suisse and UBS caused twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as all the inhabitants and industries of Switzerland in 2017 alone.

Fact

We regard this claim as false and misleading since it’s based on questionable calculations. The fact is that we’ve reduced our financing of companies that have a negative impact on the climate by 60% in 2018 (from USD 6.6 billion in 2017 to USD 2.7 billion in 2018 ).

What we do

Reshape finance

Innovative financing can be good for society, good for the environment, and give good returns. In fact, we think they all go hand in hand.

Pioneer in philanthropy

We know how to make measurable, scalable and lasting impact.

Support communities

We encourage employees to put their valuable skills to use for entrepreneurship and education.

Manage our actions

We challenge ourselves and our peers to raise the bar, work in sync with each other, and be open about the impact our actions have on society and the environment.

What we have achieved

2.8 million

Children reached by the UBS Optimus Foundation in 2018¹

36%

Employees who volunteered in 2018. Over 25,000 employees¹

100% 

Electricity from renewable energy in Switzerland, Germany, the UK, Luxembourg and Austria.¹

313 billion

Core sustainable investments under management (+72%) in 2018 (USD)¹

#TOGETHERBAND

We're proud to have joined forces with sustainable accessories brand BOTTLETOP to raise public awareness and action for all 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 100% of profits go to life-changing projects working towards the goals.

Timeline of sustainability

 

At UBS our commitment to sustainability started years ago. In the 1950s. Browse these milestones to discover how we built up our engagement to a better world – through financial products, philanthropy, and our own business practice.

Travelling through time

1954

Beginnings of UBS Community Affairs at Wealth Management US

1997

First Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) funds2

1999

First bank to obtain ISO 14001 certification for worldwide environmental management system

2006

Introduction of comprehensive climate strategy and start offsetting all CO2 emissions resulting from business air travel. More

2014

Founding UBS in society, a program to further focus us on sustainable performance

2015

Sustainability Industry leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index3


World's first Development Impact Bond (DIB) in education launched by UBS Optimus Foundation with "Educate Girls"4

2016

Launching the UBS Oncology Impact Fund, the largest oncology impact investment to date2

2018

First 100% sustainable cross-asset portfolio for private clients2


Reaching 2.8 million children through the UBS Optimus Foundation

2019

Banning project-level financing on new coal-fired power plants

Find out more

How we support the SDGs

Explore the real life stories of how we contributed to the 2030 UN Goals. Simply use the filter options below.

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Read our reports

Our reports, standards and commitments are available for all to see. We believe it's important to be upfront and honest. And while we're proud of how far we've come, we also know there's still a lot more for us to do.

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Invest for good

If you are a private investor, see how to invest for returns and drive change through sustainable investing

Sustainable and impact investing

If you are an institutional investor, let's redefine the way you think about sustainable investing

Impactful philanthropy

Breakthrough solutions to pressing social issues. See how you can have an impact

UBS Global Visionaries

Social enterprises that work to achieve the UN Sustainable development goals