Today Íslandsbanki was awarded the Kuðungur (the Conch), the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources’ environmental prize, for its outstanding work on environmental affairs in the past year. Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources, presented the award to Íslandsbanki CEO Birna Einarsdóttir, on Environment Day, held today.
The adjudication panel was unanimous in its opinion that Íslandsbanki should receive this year’s award for its exemplary performance in environmental affairs in 2020. In its comments, the panel notes that the Bank not only made noteworthy progress in its own operations but also created positive incentives in order to accelerate investment in green solutions via responsible lending, investments, and purchasing.
The panel pointed out as well that in its sustainability strategy, Íslandsbanki has committed to a systematic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from its operations and has taken a number of actions in order to achieve its target. For instance, the Bank had created a structure for teleworking before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and the carbon footprint from its own activities contracted by 20% during the year, irrespective of the effects of the pandemic.
As is well known, Íslandsbanki was the first Icelandic bank to publish a sustainable financial framework and to issue sustainable bonds. In its comments, the adjudication panel states that the publication and implementation of the sustainable financial framework had been an important contribution in the area of sustainability during the year, because green lending had led to a 5,800-tonne reduction in emissions, about thirteen times the Bank’s own carbon footprint. In addition, the Bank receives special praise for having been the first Icelandic bank to set a target of achieving full carbon neutrality in its lending and asset portfolios by 2040.
The panel notes in particular the strong emphasis Íslandsbanki has placed on bringing its entire staff on board in implementing sustainability priorities, including by holding a sustainability workshop for staff members and giving all employees the opportunity to shape the Bank’s strategy in connection with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Artist Unndór Egill Jónsson designed this year’s Kuðungur, which is made of knotty Icelandic birch and walnut. It shows in a humorous way how nature and industry interact, how the wheels start turning when things are going well, and how each component supports the other.