In order to cultivate and preserve a greener future for the generation of tomorrow, the financial sector must step up to the role of establishing sustainable business models. In doing so, institutions can provide a positive contribution towards resolving the most concerning environmental challenges that our planet is facing today.
When looking towards South Asia, and more specifically within the Sri Lankan region, the implementation and accelerating of sustainability initiatives remain fundamental to preserving the country’s rich biodiversity. Supporting green initiatives go a long way in developing sustainable agricultural practices and green energy projects, which together will have a positive impact on society and on the environment in which we live.
As one of the island’s forerunners in financial provision, whilst being hailed as a ‘Truly Sri Lankan Bank’, Pan Asia Bank has firmly established its credentials as a pioneer of green initiatives. The bank continues to build an impressive legacy of green projects, receiving accolades from national and international quarters in equal measure.
Pan Asia Bank’s green achievements are driven by both its Social & Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) policy, and welcomed investments in promoting sustainable agriculture. The bank believes that extending green funding will create the perfect opportunity to generate long-term sustainable economic benefits, that will uplift the living standards of the population by creating cost-efficient energy solutions for businesses and employment; whilst also promoting renewable energy in order to preserve the environment.
Green Funding, Greener Partnerships
In another environmental accomplishment, Pan Asia Bank became the first Sri Lankan bank to partner with the Switzerland-based market access platform Symbiotics for its first green bond issuance, which was valued at $7.75 million. Being awarded this bond at such a turbulent time in the global economy is a testament to the trust and confidence placed in Pan Asia Bank and its commitment to green financing. With this funding line, Pan Asia Bank aims to focus on promoting indigenous crops that will also support the Sri Lankan government’s initiatives to become self-sufficient through strengthening sustainable agricultural practices and MSMEs.
”It is indeed an honour to partner with Symbiotics in this novel and unique venture to champion the Green cause further in Sri Lanka,” comments Pan Asia Bank CEO Nimal Tillekeratne. “Pan Asia Bank has always demonstrated its commitment to further the sustainability cause in Sri Lanka through initiatives such as Green lending through its Social & Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) policy, the appointment of Green champions and investments made in its staff by providing training on green lending. This initiative is an indicator of the confidence the global players have in the bright economic prospects of Sri Lanka. We are proud to lead the local banking industry when it comes to the worthy and important cause of sustainability.
“This Green Bond is a confirmation of Symbiotics’ strategy to make Sustainability, Social and Green Bonds accessible for smaller issuances in emerging and frontier markets,” comments Symbiotics. “The issuance of this Green bond is fully aligned to our mission to foster sustainable development in emerging and frontier economies and we are excited to nurture and grow this segment of the MSME market even further.”
In yet another green initiative that coincides with its 25th anniversary, Pan Asia Bank held an auspicious tree planting ceremony at the north side of the Jethavanaramaya Stupa in Anuradhapura, the sacred historical temple. The initiative falls under the bank’s ‘Haritha Sammana’ CSR project, which seeks to provide shade to traveling pilgrims whilst simultaneously contributing vegetation to the sacred landscape. In line with World Environment Day, which will take place this year on June 5th, the staff of Pan Asia Bank were encouraged to undertake tree planting. They enthusiastically obliged, and together planted over 1000 trees in and around the bank branches, their own homes, around the island’s main hospitals, and throughout the parks of Anuradhapura.
Pan Asia Bank has also been active in combating climate change, organising ‘The Future is Green Sri Lanka’ event, supported by the Global Climate Partnership Fund (GCPF), and attended by representatives from Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority, the Regional Development Department of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), Sri Lanka Sustainable Banking Initiative and renowned academics from the University of Moratuwa (UoM) to raise considerable awareness on climate change and sustainable development.
The bank has also launched ‘Haritha Sammana’, a special loan scheme for Green initiatives under its flagship product, Sammana, leveraging on the $7.75 million funds received from Symbiotics’ first-ever Green Bond for Sammana customers. The green financing will be utilised to enhance sustainable projects; such as sustainable agriculture, climate-smart inputs, use of indigenous seeds, solar energy, and other such schemes.
The bank’s green efforts were reaffirmed by the bestowal of the prestigious ‘Global Climate Partnership Award’ by The Global Climate Partnership Fund (GCPF). As the world’s largest climate fund, the GCPF seeks to recognise outstanding performance and impact across various categories, such as capacities and skills, institutional capacities, and green lending offerings; as well as outstanding energy efficiency or renewable energy projects.
Pan Asia Bank is the first financial institution in Sri Lanka to be recognised by The Global Climate Partnership Awards on an international platform, which invites partnering financial institutions to showcase how they have incrementally advanced their green lending efforts. Furthermore, for winning the award, the bank was awarded recognition as a ‘blue-green awardee’ at the Presidential Environment Awards.
Working On The Ground
Pan Asia Bank, with its island-wide network of 85 branches, identifies deserving projects islandwide. Under the guidance of their Development Banking Division, its Ambalanthota branch implemented a papaya cultivation project at Beragama village within the Ambalanthota Divisional secretariat, using novel methodologies with drip irrigation solutions amongst the dry environment.
Pan Asia Bank additionally focused on introducing benefits of energy efficiency leading to agricultural sustainability to the farming community, while impacting the benefits to social and environmental systems and policies present in the country. The bank also arranged for cultivators to sign Forward Sales Agreements, with the primary buyer exporting hard green papaya to Middle-Eastern countries. Furthermore, the bank has also assigned a dedicated Micro Finance Officer, attached to its Ambalanthota Branch, to establish relationships between the farmers and other stakeholders.
In its latest green lending initiative, Pan Asia Bank has provided irrigation facilities to sugarcane farmers in Moneragala, in partnership with GCPF, Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research Training Institute (HARTI), and the Sri Lankan Sugar Company Pelwatte. Together they have worked to establish a modern irrigation system that incorporates energy-efficient practices through the irrigation system to improve both productivity and yield.
Financial assistance is arranged through Swashakthi Loan scheme with the lowest rates – 5.5%PA – under CBSL refinance with the recommendation of Small Enterprises Development (SED) Division attached to the Ministry of Youth Affairs. Pan Asia Bank also entered into a tripartite agreement to direct sales proceeds of farmers to their individual saving accounts in the bank’s Moneragala branch. Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector is in urgent need of sustainable practices, and Pan Asia Bank continues to spearhead this green transformation.