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Responsible banking 29 Jul 2019

What is BBVA doing for the sustainability of life on land?

Each year 13 million hectares (over 50,000 square miles) of forests are lost, and 22 percent of known species are in danger of extinction. As part of its commitment to preserve the environment and within the context of its Pledge 2025, BBVA endorses Sustainable Development Goal 15, which aims to promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, combat desertification, reverse land degradation, and halt the loss of biodiversity. This commitment is aligned with  principles 7, 8, and 9 of the UN’s Global Compact.

Terrestrial ecosystems are a primary source of food; they provide clean air and water and are the habitat for millions of plant and animal species. Forests in particular are key to combating climate change. They represent 30 percent of the total terrestrial surface and provide both food security and shelter.

The main problem is that these ecosystems – which are so important to human life and health – are under threat. Human activity and climate change are causing 13 million hectares (more than 50,000 square miles) of forest to be lost each year. Together with the persistent degradation of drylands, this has accelerated the desertification of 3.6 billion hectares (almost 14 million square miles).

Human activities have led to the degradation of 50 percent of agricultural land worldwide and an annual loss of 12 million hectares (more than 46,000 square miles) of arable land, thereby interfering with the production of services and goods needed by everyone, especially in underprivileged regions.

Consequently, the UN has specifically addressed this topic with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15, which aims to encourage long-term decision making that fights desertification and deforestation. Actions that are intended to protect terrestrial habitats can also serve to combat air pollution and help prevent environmental crises that could result in population displacements and political instability in a number of countries. This goal is a call to action for all companies and private and public sector institutions, regardless off their dedicated areas of activity.

BBVA volunteers have managed to plant more than 20,000 trees in Spain

Within the framework of its Pledge 2025, BBVA joins this initiative and has begun to implement actions that support the fulfillment of the UN’s SDG 15, “sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss.”

One of the bank’s notable initiatives is Bosques BBVA (‘BBVA Forests’), a project that was conceived seven years ago with the principle objective to promote environmental conservation: to recover, improve, and maintain forests, especially in unprotected regions. Thousands of volunteers support this initiative and with the backing of the Asociación Reforesta (Reforestation Association) and the Fundación Foresta (Forest Foundation), they have undertaken a number of reforestation and environmental conservation projects. Over the course of this initiative’s lifetime, more than 20,000 trees have been planted in Spain. Specifically, in the recent celebration of the International Day of Forests, reforestation activities were undertaken in seven locations in Spain including Parque Regional de la Cuenca Alta del Manzanares (‘Manzanares Upper Basin Regional Park’) and Parque de las Canteras in Granada.

BBVA does not limit its environmental development and protection efforts to Spain; it leads initiatives in all the countries where it has a presence. As in the case of Mexico, where the Group’s Mexican affiliate promotes environmental development, awareness, and concrete action through the BBVA Volunteers initiative. Reforestation activities have been carried out in Mexico’s major metropolitan areas, resulting in 73,000 trees planted throughout the country, thus fulfilling a twofold goal: encouraging the spirit of volunteerism and promoting custodianship for our planet.

For its part, the BBVA Foundation promotes the protection of the world’s forests by financing teams of scientific researchers in ecology and conservation biology, teams that have a special focus on promoting the conservation of habitats and threatened species in Spain. In addition, the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards has two categories dedicated to environmental research: one for climate change and the other for ecology and conservation biology.

With all these activities and those that the bank intends to develop in the near future, BBVA reaffirms its commitment to the environment as it puts its full weight behind the fight for the planet’s conservation and opts for a better, more sustainable future.

BBVA and the SDGs

BBVA’s Pledge 2025 is an initiative that demonstrates BBVA’s efforts to contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Spearheaded by the United Nations, the 17 SDGs are a worldwide call for the adoption of measures to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Included among the priorities defined by the 17 goals are domains such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace, and justice. On the whole, given the wide range of its business activity, BBVA contributes to all the SDGs, with both its global presence and the many activities of the BBVA Microfinance Foundation.

With Pledge 2025, BBVA is actively fighting climate change, demonstrating the stake it has taken in sustainable development. Under the auspices of this initiative, the bank aims to raise €1 billion by 2025 for the fight against climate change and to promote the development of sustainable infrastructure. It will also reduce its environmental footprint and engage the banking industry in the promotion of sustainable development

SDG 15: What is BBVA doing for the sustainability of life on land?

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