Natixis pledges its renewed commitment its regarding the climate and the environment. Environmental & Social Responsibility (ESR) is a real long-term performance driver and an integral part of our corporate strategy here at Natixis. Louis Douady, Global Head of ESR, explains how Natixis combines value creation and a responsible business approach.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
My name is Louis Douady and I’m Global Head of ESR at Natixis. I joined Natixis more than 15 years ago to work in the CIB division, helping develop our aviation finance business firstly in Paris, then in Hong Kong and later in New York. I have been in charge of the ESR department since 2017.
What exactly is ESR?
ESR stands for Environmental and Social Responsibility and means ensuring that Natixis’ business operations are environmentally responsible and make a positive contribution to society.
Natixis and ESR go back a long way, right?
Natixis has been involved in ESR initiatives since it was created in 2006.
We became a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact ten years ago, which involves aligning our strategies and operations with principles on human rights, labor and the environment.
Eight years ago, we also began applying the Equator Principles, which require signatory banks to screen investments for ESR criteria. In more practical terms, this means that we don’t finance major projects without conducting due diligence on their environmental and social risks.
Is social responsibility compatible with business?
Yes, we truly believe it is! A major company like Natixis can’t just focus on business considerations, as our teams, clients, shareholders and society as a whole look at our overall contribution, so we want to make it as positive as possible.
We are also convinced that sustainable development is a key market trend. Green and sustainable finance attracts a lot of interest from our clients who are looking for new types of financing and investment solutions to support their own transition, so this is a real value creation opportunity for Natixis and our teams.
Is ESR really a strategic priority for Natixis?
Absolutely! ESR is right at the very center of our New Dimension strategic plan. It’s a key source of sustainable valuation creation, as we aim to double our green business revenues out to 2020 on both financing and investment operations.
Our cross-business ESR department set up a year ago is a good illustration of this focus, as we are in charge of designing the company’s ESR strategy and implementing it across all our business lines and support functions.
The department focuses on three main priorities: raising awareness among teams and managing our direct footprint, managing environmental and social risks, and developing sustainable businesses. We rely on a team of 10 people and a dynamic network of 200 correspondents across Natixis to address these priorities.
Can you tell us about Natixis pledges and initiatives to promote climate awareness?
I think that financial institutions can have a huge impact with the massive amounts they finance, invest and insure.
Natixis is determined to combat global warming, which threatens our planet and future generations. So we pledged to stop financing the coal sector as early as 2015, and in 2017 we decided to stop financing oil projects in the Arctic and oil extracted from tar sands worldwide.
And what about your everyday operations, are you also environmentally aware?
Responsibility begins at home, so we have rolled out a number of initiatives within the company to curb our direct environmental footprint by cutting back our energy and paper use in particular. We have also set aside a specific budget in our employee profit-sharing plan that can be paid out to staff if we meet certain targets on these two aspects.
We have managed to cut back our paper use by almost 20% in the space of three years thanks to our staff’s efforts!
To finish up, is there a landmark initiative you would like to tell us about?
I would like to mention the Green Weighting Factor, which is an innovative mechanism that aims to promote finance deals with a positive impact on the environment and help us make progress towards hitting the Paris Agreement climate goals.