UBS in Society

Driving change that matters

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 all of our interest. We care about the negative consequences of climate change, which is why we have a climate strategy that applies across the entire bank. We’re also convinced 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 investments are concerned.

Fact

Wrong. We sold climate-related, sustainable investments worth USD 108 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.

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. In 2018, we decided that we will no longer finance new coal-fired power plants, and we further tightened our fossil fuel standards in 2019. We’ve drastically scaled back financing companies that have a negative impact on the climate – down 41% in 2019. And we continue to shift toward sustainability in all of our decisions. Last year, we financed companies developing renewable energies with over USD 87 billion.

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. We aim to be a leader in sustainable finance, expanding our range of products and raising awareness among clients and investors. And at our own doorstep, we’ve nearly halved the number of kilometers flown worldwide from one billion in 2007 to 459 million in 2019, for example, and offset 100% of flight emissions in the last 13 years. We’ve also committed to covering 100% of our energy needs from renewable sources by mid-2020.

Myth 5

UBS refuses to divest from climate-damaging companies.

Fact

We’ve learned that we often get much further when we work together with companies to engage in more sustainable strategies than just pulling out altogether. For instance, our Climate Aware fund reduces its exposure to rather than excludes 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 started an engagement program with 50 oil & gas and utilities companies underweighted in the fund.

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

3.3 million

Children reached by the UBS Optimus Foundation in 20191

38%

Of employees volunteered in 2019. Over 27,000 employees.1

100% 

Our goal for share of electricity from renewable sources for 2020. Currently we're at 72%.1

488 billion USD

Core sustainable investments under management (+56%) in 20191

#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