Manama: The key role of Bahrain’s banks in driving a broader, sector-wide sustainability agenda was one of several topics discussed with Abdulaziz Al-Helaissi, Group CEO and Member of the Board of Gulf International Bank, in a wide-ranging interview he gave recently to Oxford Business Group’s online broadcasting channel, Global Platform.
Al-Helaissi highlighted the rise in popularity of green bond issuances, saying they were helping to redefine the finance sector’s landscape, against a backdrop of rising demand for financial instruments that gave weight to environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.
“The increased momentum in sustainable and green finance-linked products, services and investment, is influencing the future strategic direction of Bahrain's banking sector,” he told OBG.
He also highlighted the strides made by Bahrain towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals as part of its Economic Vision 2030 targets, which he said included promoting sustainable and transparent capital markets.
“Bahrain Bourse issued its ESG voluntary reporting guidelines for listed companies in June 2020,” he noted. “It is also committed to the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative.”
In addition, Al-Helaissi touched on the Covid-19 pandemic’s role in accelerating the trend towards ESG. “It acted as a wake-up call about the vulnerability and fragility our world is currently facing,” he said in the video.
Marc-André de Blois, OBG’s Director of PR and Video Content, said the interview with Al-Helaissi showed that efforts under way across Bahrain’s banking sector to promote ESG standards and encourage sustainable, ethical decision-making at a corporate level were gathering pace.
“ESG-compliant assets are gaining prominence in international investment portfolios, while regulators are sharpening their focus on reporting requirements, on the back of broad-based rising demand,” he said. “Our video reaffirms that Bahrain’s finance sector is taking steps to put effective ESG strategy at the heart of its operations, and, in turn, contributing to the Kingdom’s plans to make future growth inclusive and sustainable.”
About Gulf International Bank (GIB)
Gulf International Bank B.S.C. is a pan GCC universal bank established in 1975 and regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain. GIB’s services are delivered across the GCC and international markets through its subsidiaries: GIB Saudi Arabia and GIB (UK) Ltd. Additionally, the Bank has branches in the UAE, London and USA.
GIB is owned by the governments of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund being the principal shareholder.
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