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Ethical Banking

Alberto Lanzavecchia, Le Thuy-Dung
University of Padova

Ethical Banking is an original and scalable approach to impact investing in the banking sector. Launched in 2000 by the largest co-operative bank in South Tyrol, it provides an operational procedure to align the ESG impact objectives of depositors with the bank's lending activities, while also allowing (if desired by the bank) a discount on the interest rate charged to borrowers. By bridging the gap between ethically-conscious depositors and the funding needs to support sustainable initiatives, Ethical Banking's model channels funds effectively into six key impact themes, including bolstering fair trade initiatives in underprivileged regions of the world. This requires full transparency on the effective borrowers and the empowerment of depositors in their active role.

Ethical Banking is an example that can be replicated by other banks that wish to prioritize certain sustainable sectors within their loan portfolios and, at the same time, intercept those clients who want to play an active role towards sustainable transition. In this way, the goals and actions for sustainable development on a global scale can be accelerated, channeling more financial resources towards sustainable activities, taking them away from those that are being discontinued.

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