Dr. Atiur Rahman
We all know that the CSR obligations of activism towards promoting sustainability is not just a developed economy cause or a developing economy cause, it is a global survival urgency in the face of looming risks from social iniquity, environmental degradation, and climate change threats arising mostly from the global economic output practices and lifestyles pursued thus far. There is indeed no escape from the imperative of major global shift from polluting output practices and lifestyles towards equitable and environmentally sustainable options in the one world that we all share. This calls inter alia for a major attitudinal shift towards conducting all our businesses and output activities with a socially and environmentally responsible mindset. To this end we at Bangladesh Bank (BB) have been proactively pursuing the ingraining of a socially responsible financing ethos in the corporate goals and objectives of banks and financial institutions in our financial sector. Progress thus far has been very heartening. CSR initiatives of our banks and financial institutions have expanded several fold over the past few years, in direct support for socioeconomic empowerment of the less well off population segments with extensive schemes in areas of health, education and emergency disaster relief; in inclusive financing of productive farm and off farm MSME initiatives of all population segments in all economic sectors; and in financing transition from polluting, energy inefficient output practices to ‘green’, environmentally beneficial options. BB’s facilitation and support measures like refinance lines and financial sector IT infrastructure modernization to enable off branch mobile phone/smart card based financial service delivery have helped our financial sector in their CSR initiatives; but it is the motivational thrust of ingraining a socially responsible financing ethos that has played the key role in drawing all our banks and financial institutions into spontaneous engagements in CSR initiatives. For some years now, BB has been issuing annual reports on Bangladesh financial sector’s CSR initiatives, to help banks and financial institutions learn from each other’s initiatives.
The annual CSR report of the CSR centre is a very welcome broader initiative to draw together CSR initiatives of all businesses, both in the real and financial sectors, in one platform. This report and the interaction engagements in the CSR centre will be particularly useful for the financial sector institutions in gaining better understanding of the needs of real sector businesses in their transition to greener, more energy efficient output practices; while the real sector businesses will gain better understanding of support measures available locally or from abroad. Networking and liaising with the local focal point of the UN global compact will help CSR centre further in keeping local businesses updated about unfolding global dialogues and events. I am not sure whether all our real sector businesses are well aware of concessional financing, tax/tariff breaks/waivers and other supports available locally for adoption of energy efficient low emission production processes and techniques, nor whether they are familiar with CDM and other support mechanisms available externally for such initiatives. I look forward to the CSR centre and its annual CSR report playing an instrumental role in disseminating such knowledge and information; and more importantly in steady ever-deeper ingraining of socially responsible business ethos in both real and financial sector corporates in Bangladesh. – Bangladesh Bank release
(Speech of the Governor, Bangladesh Bank, made at the launch of Report on CSR in Bangladesh 2014, organized by CSR Centre on Sunday)
Dr. Atiur Rahman