Standard Chartered Bank has informed the World Heritage Centre that as part of a review and update of their environmental and social framework, it has strengthened its policy regarding World Heritage sites.
Standard Chartered has not only decided to stop financing or lending to any projects that may damage World Heritage sites, but has also stated that it will not provide financial services to clients who have operations that adversely impact upon the Outstanding Universal Value of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
This move follows Barclays’ announcement last month of their first public policy committing the bank to stop financing projects in World Heritage sites and Ramsar Wetlands.
Despite inscription on the World Heritage List, almost half of all natural and mixed World Heritage sites are threatened by harmful industrial practices such as oil and gas exploration and mining.
Mechtild Rössler, Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre said, “The World Heritage Centre welcomes Standard Chartered Bank tightening their World Heritage site policy and lodging the policy with the Centre. It is welcome to see the bank clearly recognize and take action to manage the risks of adverse impacts from project activities beyond the boundaries of these sites. We are excited to see more and more top global private sector banks and financial institutions strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard our World Heritage sites.”
Last year WWF launched the report How Banks Can Safeguard Our World Heritage. The report outlines what elements strong World Heritage site policies should include. This followed research that found that, at the time, none of the 10 major global banks analyzed had fully comprehensive World Heritage policies in place.