Banking for Nature: Preserving the Natural Wealth of our Earth
By Tim Huang, Senior Vice President, E.SUN Financial Holding Co., Ltd
In this article, Tim Huang, Senior Vice President, at E.SUN Financial Holding Co., Ltd, shares how E.SUN is committed to preserving the natural wealth of our planet.
E.SUN will be joining this year's World Biodiversity Summit on 21 September in New York, to address the urgent need for biodiversity restoration through Nature-based Solutions and nature-positive investments.
Taiwan, Formosa, a Beautiful and Biodiverse Island
Taiwan, Formosa, is an exquisite island nestled in tropical and subtropical regions. Surrounded by the sea and adorned with 268 mountains rising above 3,000 meters, Taiwan boasts a remarkable diversity of landscapes. Its varied topography, climate, and geology have given rise to a multitude of ecosystems, including forests, grasslands, rivers, wetlands, lakes, plains, farmland, and coasts. This unique blend of characteristics gives Taiwan an unparalleled ecological significance. Despite its modest land area, Taiwan is home to an astonishing 2.5% of all known species - a stark contrast to the global average. Taiwan’s natural richness nurtures a breathtaking array of fauna and flora, making it worthy of the title “biodiversity island.”
As climate change continues to threaten the whole world, Taiwan’s environment and wildlife also face the threat of destruction. While climate and environment awareness has grown significantly among Taiwan business owners, transitioning to a low-carbon and nature positive economy remains a challenge as most businesses lack the expertise and guidance, especially among small medium enterprises.
E.SUN, as the leader in sustainable finance in Taiwan, recognizes that we can be the driving force for sustainable development nationwide. Our aim is to continue to raise awareness for the importance of biodiversity and climate change and to provide guidance to our customers and stakeholders both through our business operations and by working with government, academia, and local communities.
Dedicated to a Net-zero and Nature-positive Future
E.SUN has undertaken the bold commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Our commitment to net-zero is more than just a slogan; we see as the foundation of the future of our corporate goals. Our approach to sustainability is multifaceted, encompassing a wide array of initiatives that resonates across every level of our organization.
From our management team to the daily operations of our dedicated staff, the principles of sustainability are infused into our decision-making processes and guide our actions.
We understand that the path to net-zero emissions requires a holistic transformation of our enterprise, and to that end we have made significant strides in our journey. In 2022, we achieved a commendable 10% reduction in Scope 1&2 carbon emissions compared to our baseline in 2020. This achievement underscores our commitment to mitigating our carbon footprint and actively contributes to global climate goals.
In addition to emission reductions, we have also taken a pioneering step by introducing carbon pricing in our investment and lending practices. By incorporating the true cost of carbon into our financial decisions, we align our investments with the imperative to combat climate change.
Moreover, we have embraced the principles of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and the Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD). This integration allows us to publish comprehensive climate and natural environment reports - a transparency initiative that has garnered recognition from the TNFD organization. Our steadfast adherence to these frameworks underscores our commitment to holistic sustainability.
E.SUN is committed to advancing integrated performance, corporate social responsibility, and sustainable development. In addition to net-zero targets, E.SUN is aligning with global biodiversity goals, working towards recovering nature growth before 2030 and fostering a biodiverse homeland.
Louis L.Y. Chang, Chief Sustainability Officer of E.SUN Bank, states, "E.SUN Bank not only safeguards the wealth of its clients but also ensures the riches of nature are protected and preserved."
As part of our business acumen, we created ESG linked loans to provide customers with their financial needs while also caring for the environment.
Customers are encouraged to set ambitious climate and environment targets related to the use of the funds, and they are rewarded with an interest rate discount when these targets are met.
- Tim Huang, Senior Vice President, E.SUN Financial Holding Co., Ltd
Targets include climate and environmental actions such as commitments to prevent deforestation, greenhouse gas emission reductions, and water pollution prevention. E.SUN bank has achieved a balance of NT$40.6 billion in ESG linked loans since the product was released.
E.SUN introduced Taiwan's first credit card combining conservation and environmental concepts—the "Black Bear Affinity Card." This card allocates 0.2% of transaction amounts to an animal conservation fund. The fund has donated NT$10 million to Taipei Zoo, supporting Taiwanese Black Bear conservation, habitat protection, native species restoration, and environmental education programs.
Integrating Biodiversity into Finance
E.SUN integrates biodiversity considerations into financial services. We follow international standards like the Equator Principles Association, meticulously assessing project financing risks in terms of environmental, social, climate, and biodiversity factors. Meanwhile, by providing sustainability-linked loan to specific companies in biodiversity sensitive sectors, such as agriculture or forestry plantation, we encourage customers to set up goals on supply chain management, certification of plantation, and so on. E.SUN also supports Traceable Agricultural Products (TAP) to promote sustainable industry and ecosystem growth. By offering dedicated loans and promoting TAP products, we aim to enhance the value and competitiveness of Taiwan's agricultural products.
Dedicated to Biodiversity Conservation
E.SUN’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond the realms of finance and carbon reduction. We are deeply invested in preserving the natural environment, as we realize it is a cornerstone of our planet's health and resilience towards climate change.
In our quest to reduce habitat loss and promote biodiversity, we initiated the " Plant a Tree, Plant a Life" project. We have embarked on four consecutive years of tree-planting efforts in collaboration with the Forestry Bureau, resulting in the restoration of coastal forests spanning a total area of 26 hectares. Our volunteers, under the guidance of E.SUN's management team, have planted over 40,000 native tree saplings in national forest and coastal forest sites from 2019 to 2022, further contributing to habitat restoration and local biodiversity enrichment.
In recent years, we initiated the "E.SUN–NTU ESG Centenary Project" in partnership with the prestigious National Taiwan University (NTU). We aim to plant 100,000 native species trees, covering an expansive 50 hectares over the course of a decade. This forest will have the capacity to absorb 242 thousand tons of carbon dioxide during its century-long lifespan. After a period of growth and selective thinning, a quarter of the trees will be retained to mature over a century, setting the stage for soil and water conservation, carbon sequestration, and native biodiversity protection.
Promoting Sustainable Agriculture
E.SUN understands that actions for nature should transcend beyond the scope of banking. We recognize the pivotal role that agriculture plays in both sustaining livelihoods and safeguarding ecosystems in Taiwan. Together with local aboriginal and farming communities, we carried out two major projects to bring sustainability practices
E.SUN and NTU have jointly launched a three-year "Millet Cultivation Revival Plan". Together we reintroduced 28 native millet varieties from the United States Seed Bank back to Taiwan. Native millet crops are not only more resistant to climate change compared to rice crops, but they also have an important place in Aboriginal Taiwanese cultural heritage. The plan involves the establishment of millet planting demonstration areas, organizing educational camps, and providing native millet seeds and planting expertise to encourage local residents to participate in millet cultivation. Our goal to restore millet cultivation is to not only propagate a hardy native crop, but to also promote a sustainable source economic income for the local aboriginal community.
Since 2014, E.SUN has supported organic agricultural development. We encouraged local farmers in the Malavi region of Hualien to adopt organic farming practices, which serves to protect local biodiversity while also improving crop quality. This initiative has seen us purchase 340 tons of organic rice since its inception and saw the return of an extremely rare species of native fish - Aphyocypris Kikuchii in the paddies.
A Pledge for a Sustainable Future
E.SUN recognizes the significance of international cooperation and actively participates in initiatives like the World Biodiversity Summit. We acknowledge our responsibility as the generation experiencing the impacts of climate change and are determined to drive change. Net-zero emissions and nature-positive outcomes are our shared goals, and we invite everyone to join us in creating a sustainable and flourishing future for the next generation.
In the words of Louis, the Chief Sustainability Officer of E.SUN Bank, "This is our first time joining the World Biodiversity Summit. We look forward to collaborating with more stakeholders, as we believe it will inspire more financial institutions to integrate biodiversity into their investments."
E.SUN, named in honor of the highest mountain in Taiwan, Jade Mountain, extends its mission far beyond the financial sector. Our overarching goal is to stand as the most respected and impactful enterprise in Taiwan, actively pursuing a harmonious and sustainable equilibrium among the realms of economy, society, and environment. In our steadfast journey toward this vision, we are honored to collaborate with like-minded corporate partners who share our aspiration for a just and sustainable society and environment. We are driven by a resolute commitment to becoming a “world-class corporate citizen.” Our pillars of long-term sustainability include institutional development, talent cultivation, and information technology. Our business philosophy centers on expertise, service, and ethics.
E.SUN's sustainability efforts have been highly recognized by international evaluations, including being selected into the DJSI Emerging Markets Index for nine consecutive years, the highest-ranking AAA in MSCI ESG. For years E.SUN has dedicated efforts to corporate governance, and has upheld the core values of honesty, integrity, professionalism, and responsibility.
In the words of our founder, Yung-Jen Huang, "Named after the highest mountain in Taiwan, we are determined to be the best bank in Taiwan. We aspire to be the best-performing and most respected financial institution in Taiwan." These words encapsulate our enduring commitment to excellence and responsibility.
About the Author
Tim Huang, Senior Vice President, E.SUN Financial Holding Co., Ltd, is experienced with over 15 years of professions in corporate banking, overseas expansion and management, and strategy development. With his dedication, E.SUN has embraced several leading sustainability measures, including joining PCAF, disclosing GHG emissions associated with financial activities, receiving validation for science-based targets from SBTi, and has won international recognition including being listed in DJSI in 8 consecutive years, and MSCI ESG rating "AAA" as a ESG leading bank in Taiwan and in Asia.