Children from 40 schools were united in a country-wide campaign launched by the Commercial Bank of Ceylon on World Environment Day 2019 to engage the younger generation in tree planting.
Intended to be expanded into a continuing activity, the programme saw 400 trees being planted on 6th June at schools in cities and towns across the island.
Participating schools represented locations as diverse as Ampara, Bandaragama, Chenkalady, Galewela, Galle, Gampaha, Hambantota, Hingurakgoda, Homagama, Horana, Jaffna, Kalutara, Katubedda, Kegalle, Kilinochchi, Kurunegala, Mannar, Matara, Monaragala, Mulliyawalai, Nochchiyagama, Nuwara Eliya, Padukka, Panadura, Passara, Pilimathalawa, Puttalam, Ratnapura, Trincomalee, Vavuniya, and Wennappuwa.
The Bank said this tree planting project is not an isolated exercise in its effort to conserve the environment. Commercial Bank has embedded social and environmental responsibilities into its day-to-day activities with the installation of solar power systems at branches, the Bank’s use of waste management companies that follow international standards in disposal practices for the dispatch of e-waste and paper, initiatives to migrate customers to digital platforms, and investments in automated technology that minimise the use of paper.
The Bank disclosed that in 2018, 20% of the Bank’s Fixed Deposits were opened in the form of electronic fixed deposits through Online Banking. Moreover, the value of the Bank’s online transactions increased by 10.33% over 2017 with customers transacting to the value of more than Rs 720 billion on the platform. Similarly, the value of mobile transactions recorded a rise of 39.34%, with transactions to the value of Rs 13.7 billion by the customer base. These figures translate to a substantial reduction in paper consumption in the course of business, the Bank said.
The Bank also disbursed Rs 5.4 billion in 2018 as ‘Green Loans’ and ‘Green Leases’ that funded businesses and individuals seeking to reduce their environmental footprint through investments in solar energy, the purchase of energy-efficient equipment and machinery, waste management systems, rain water harvesting and similar initiatives.
Green Financing also remains a strong focus of the Bank with special emphasis on projects in the areas of renewable energy, waste management, emission management, drip irrigation, rain water harvesting, energy efficiency, water efficiency, green agriculture and forestry development. The green financing disbursements in 2018 by the Bank totaled Rs 6.4 billion.
Thanks to the ongoing installation of solar panels branches, the Bank consumed 9.7% less Gigajules of direct energy in 2018. Today, 34 Commercial Bank branches are solar powered, and while some of them are self-sufficient in renewable energy and do not pay electricity bills, the Bank’s Peliyagoda warehouse produces enough energy to transmit power back to the national electricity grid.
The Bank follows sustainable business practices that are aligned with Sustainable Development Goals and the principles of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) where relevant to the Bank. They include enhancing financial inclusion and financial literacy, propagating green banking and green financing, promoting quality education, collaborating for renewed success, and supporting the community.
The only Sri Lankan Bank to be ranked among the world’s top 1000 banks for eight years consecutively, Commercial Bank operates a network of 266 branches and 830 ATMs in Sri Lanka. The Bank has won multiple international and local awards in 2016 and 2017 and over 40 international and local awards in 2018.
Commercial Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the Bank operates 19 outlets; Myanmar, where it has a Representative Office in Yangon and a Microfinance company in Nay PyiTaw; and the Maldives, where the Bank has a fully-fledged Tier I Bank with a majority stake.