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Taipei Times – HSBC Taiwan touts conservation effort

By Kao Shih-ching / Staff reporter

While many local banks have begun focusing on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues this year due to a regulator’s demands, HSBC Bank (Taiwan) Ltd (匯豐台灣商銀) has already outpaced its peers, as it has been funding wetlands conservation for 17 years.

The bank has been supporting Guandu Nature Park (關渡自然公園), which aims to restore wetlands and protect wild birds, since 2003, not only with cumulative funds of NT$160 million (US$5.55 million at the current exchange rate), but also with its personnel’s volunteer work of 31,050 hours, HSBC Taiwan chief executive officer Adam Chen (陳志堅) said in an interview yesterday.

“It is not often seen that a private bank devotes its resources to support a conservation park for such a long time, but we feel that it is right to protect the park, or the lungs of Taipei, given our Taipei-based business,” Chen said.

Seventeen years ago few talked about ESG, a keyword that has become hot in the nation’s financial industry this year due to the Financial Supervisory Commission’s plans to boost sustainable financing and carry out an ESG assessment of financial firms, he said.

“I think we are even ahead of the regulations. As our headquarters have been concentrating on sustainability for many years, we make it our core value in business,” Chen said.

HSBC Taiwan has sought local non-profit organizations to work with on environmental projects, as some institutions its headquarters collaborates with, such as the World Wide Fund for Nature or Earthwatch, do not have branches in Taiwan, bank corporate sustainability head Ruth Lee (李清如) said.

Thanks to the efforts of the Wild Bird Society of Taipei, which has been assigned by the Taipei City Government to manage the Guandu Nature Park, and the support of HSBC Taiwan, the number of bird species in the park has increased 78 percent to 133, Lee said.

The park also plays an important role in bird migration, as millions of birds have visited the park during their migration, she said.

Supporting the park has not only had a positive effect on the environment, but also on society, as the bird society and the bank hold environmental education activities to help students understand their environment and learn to cherish natural resources, Lee said.

The bank has since 2009 also sponsored the park to use six water buffaloes to help restore the wetlands and maintain the ecosystem, she added.

Content Credit: Taipei Times