Woori Bank Seeks to Become Green Bank
By Kim Jae-kyoung
Woori Bank, the nation's second-largest lender, has placed a top priority on fostering "green finance,'' as it believes that financial activities that promote green growth will be the main growth engine in the future not only for the lender but also for the nation's economy.
The bank, which has played a key role in supporting smaller firms and households, is moving fast to take the lead in environment-friendly activities in line with the government's efforts to transform the country into a green economic power.
In fact, the lender was the first mover in the financial industry's green drive. Back in August last year, the lender introduced its "Low Carbon, Green Growth" deposit by joining hands with Seoul City. Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon was the first to sign up for the new product. Those who sign up for the product get exemptions on fees for ATM transactions and online banking.
"A deposit account was launched in support of the national policy to reduce carbon use and support green industry. Part of the profits are used to establish green cities,'' a Woori Bank executive said.
Woori is now working on multiple fronts to create a sustainable business enterprise that pursues balanced development in harmony with society. Recent initiatives along these lines include the 2008 launches of eco-friendly products such as the "Woori Love Energy Composite Deposit" and "Green Account."
In November, the "Woori Green Solar Loan" and "Woori Robot Loan" were introduced to help establish new growth industries in the areas of intelligent robotics and solar energy.
"These products are part of the bank's continuing legacy of supporting the development of a strong and competitive knowledge economy in Korea. Green industry, solar energy industry and robot industry are the future growth engine and we seek to become a leading bank by supporting such promising industries,'' the executive said.
Joining Global Initiative
The bank has furthermore declared its intention to uphold ten principles in the sectors of human rights, environmental protection, labor relations and anti-corruption. Woori was also the first Korean bank to join the UN Global Compact and its membership in the UNEP Financial Initiative (UNEP FI) dates back to 2004.
In January of 2008, the lender was proud to be selected as the Korean chair institution for the UNEP FI/Korea Group, highlighting the firm's commitment to sustainable management and green investment.
In June 2008, it participated in the United Nations International Conference co-organized by UNEP FI, the UN Global Compact and UN PRI, raising the lender's stature as a representative Asian bank.
These and other sincere efforts led to Woori Bank's being awarded the Grand Prize in the 2008 Customer Satisfaction Management Award from the Korea Management Association, which was the third consecutive year Woori Bank claimed the prize.
"All of these outside awards provide ample evidence of our commitment to sustainable business and generous corporate sharing. We will expand the scope of our sustainable management activities with firm resolve and dedication,'' another Woori Bank executive said.
"In the near future, we plan to include climate change response, promotion of biodiversity, protection of human rights, regional development and socially responsible investment among our campaigns,'' he added. "The effectiveness of these efforts will be magnified through cooperation with other organizations worldwide, helping Woori to develop and improve our sustainable management strategies and action plans.''
As one of Korea's top banks, Woori is taking the initiative to support environmental protection efforts for the benefit of the country's many beautiful mountains and rivers. Seoul's central Mt. Namsan has received particular attention for the past 14 years, benefiting from the firm's continuing reforestation programs and other green activities. Also, in February of 2008, about 5,000 bank employees volunteered their time to help with relief efforts on the Taean peninsula, the site of Korea's worst-ever oil spill.
The lender has also been active in supporting rural areas. It began its "sister village" program in 2005, adopting Naegok Village in Gyeonggi Province as its rural partner community.
"The sister village concept is based on fostering win-win relationships. The bank supports the village's economy by making advance payments for fruit grown on parcels that are pre-assigned to bank staff," the executive said. The bank adopted a second sister village in 2007, choosing Mongsan Village in Taean County, South Chungcheong Province