The first in-person exchange, including banks from all over Latin America held in Sao Paulo on 1 and 2 October  proved to be a great success. The two days gave visiting and host banks an opportunity to share and gain knowledge on different topics related to sustainable banking.

The participants included hosts FEBRABAN, Santander Brasil, Bradesco and ITAU, and visitors: Banco Galicia (Argentina), Banco Pichincha (Ecuador), Banco de Fomento Agropecuario (BFA) (El Salvador), LAFISE Bancentro (Nicaragua), Sudameris Bank (Paraguay) and Banco Nacional de Fomento (BNF) (Paraguay). The group had a variety of representatives from public and private banks with different levels of adoption of ESG criteria. This diversity of actors was an important factor, since it helped foster a technical discussion on different approaches within the respective national contexts, resulting in a fruitful and inspiring exchange. Some of the areas discussed included:

A coordinated approach to improve the market actors for distributed solar power generation in Brazil: This demonstrated the importance in having an organized and coherent “ecosystem” of actors allowing the market to develop. In turn, this “ecosystem” tackles the lack of bankable projects and reduces the risk of them.

Inclusion and diversity both internal and for general public: This strategy addressed topics  about gender, LGBT, race and disabilities. The respect for diversity was transformed into trainings and awareness of the personnel.

Corporate structure and sustainability is an integral part of the operations: All of the host banks shared their experience in this area, and how this has been integrated in different departments of the banks, such as the areas of risk, commercial, compliance and human resources.

New business models and Information technology: This product is focused on investing in mentoring, advising, networking and providing open spaces for digital entrepreneurs to interact. This initiative allowed digital entrepreneurs to discuss and research topics such as blockchains and potential applications, and quantum computing developments.

Microfinance: a powerful area to diverge from a classic project finance approach to smaller operations under a sustainable (environmental and social) focus.

Initial evaluations of the peer to peer exchange were extremely positive by both host and visitor banks. FEBRABAN expressed its willingness to replicate the exchanges at least once a year with UNEP FI. They are open to receive visitors from all over the world.

This successful first pilot has proven the effectiveness of sharing experiences within the UNEP FI network.  We are ready to replicate similar initiatives in other regions on different topics and with different actors.