Press Release

uab bank partners WWF to drive a sustainable future for Myanmar’s banking sector

Yangon, 8 February 2020 – uab bank and WWF signed a MoU today to integrate an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policy into uab’s governance and business model. The environmental criteria of this ESG policy will evaluate how a company performs as a steward of nature in its energy use, waste, pollution, and natural resource conservation, and will help uab bank to screen potential environmental risks within its business model.

A sustainable economy needs banks to integrate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) safeguards into its core banking activities. Financial inclusion can be combined with low-emission energy solutions, as well as locally controlled forest regeneration activities, which have positive environmental benefits.

“We are incredibly excited to continue our work within the sustainable finance sector. Our MoU with one of the pioneer banks such as uab bank represents another milestone toward the direction of a green economy, and thus, a more sustainable future for Myanmar.” Ujjwal Pokhrel, Manager – Sustainable Production and Finance Projects from WWF said.

This project aims to align Myanmar’s financial system with international best practices. By mainstreaming the management of environmental and social issues in the system, banks will be able to consider the value of nature in the risk-return trade-off. This is also the founding principle of a green economy policy framework, which the Myanmar government is developing. Environmental and social safeguards will prepare banks to contribute to the achievement of national development policies and strategies and, at the same time, helps minimize risks in their credit portfolio.

“Sustainable development and conservation of the country resources is critical to national development. The banking sector can help influence sustainability by adopting and upholding a higher standard of ESG practices. We are proud to partner and be supported by WWF to first integrated the ESG policy into our governance and business model, and leveraging on this experience to share and drive ESG adoption in the Myanmar’s banking sector. This reflects our commitment to be leading change and humanising banking in Myanmar.” Christopher Loh, MD & CEO of uab bank said.

Within the scope of this cooperation, WWF will provide technical assistance in the development of a tailored ESG policy for uab bank, as well as the enhancement of knowledge on ESG matters, through the training of its staff. WWF will also support development of ESG policy as well as the development process and lessons learned from other organisations within Myanmar, in order to lead change among other financial institutions.

Myanmar is the fastest growing economy in the world at 8.6%, and is expected to reach three times of its current GDP (US$200 billion) by 2030. Sectors expected to contribute the most towards achieving this growth are manufacturing, agriculture, and infrastructure, all of which, if not managed well, will drive significant levels of deforestation and will contribute to negative impacts on climate change. 75% of this investment is expected to come from domestic resources – primarily banks. Thus, if Myanmar is to maintain sustainable development in the medium to long term, domestic investments need to be influenced toward sustainable production and finance.

In Myanmar, uab bank is one of early financial institutions that has taken formal steps toward the development and implementation of ESG policy in their governance and business model. To continue this effort, WWF will provide necessary technical assistance regarding ESG implementation within the timeline of this MoU until March of 2021.

About WWF WWF is an independent conservation organization, with over 30 million followers and a global network active in nearly 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. WWF-Myanmar opened in 2014. Its work programmes include wildlife, habitats, green economy, renewal energy, freshwater, and sustainable business.

WWF stands for the World Wide Fund for Nature (previously known as the World Wildlife Fund)

About uab bank

uab bank is a leading bank in Myanmar. Established in 2010, uab bank serves customers from a growing network of over 78 branches in 47 townships across Myanmar. uab provides a wide range of financial services including consumer banking, premier banking, SME banking, corporate banking, trade finance and treasury services. Recognised for its successful transformation and leadership in the Myanmar banking sector amidst the regulatory changes and governance requirements, uab bank was named ‘Myanmar’s Best Bank’ by Euromoney, ‘Mid-sized Domestic Retail Bank of the Year’ by Asian Banking & Finance, and was ranked No. 1 in Corporate Governance Disclosure by 2019 Pwint Thit Sa (TiME) Report published by the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business.