In a further meeting with investors, Claudio Melandri reported on the establishment of these plants, which will be operational in 2022, making the bank the first in the local banking industry to take this important step in line with its commitment to business management that is more respectful of the planet.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021. For the second consecutive year, Santander Chile held a virtual meeting with investors, who learned about the Bank’s progress from its chairman, Claudio Melandri, and its CEO, Miguel Mata. On this occasion, the meeting focused on ESG (environmental, social and governance) issues, highlighting points such as Santander’s efforts to help its customers move toward a greener economy, as well as its own actions to reduce its impact on the planet.

During the “Santander ESG Talk”, Melandri announced that the bank will be one of the first large companies in Chile, and the first local bank, to produce its own renewable energy. This is due to the agreement with Gasco Luz and Fourtrees Capital, under which six solar power plants of 300 kW each will be built. They will be operational in 2022 and will be located in the Coquimbo, Valparaíso and Metropolitana Regions. The contract consists of a 10-year lease of these solar power plants, which are already under construction and involve an annual payment by the Bank of approximately US$240,000.

All the energy produced by these plants will be allocated to the Bank’s own consumption, which will enable it to reduce its footprint by 1,380 tonnes of carbon per year. Thus, the energy generated by these plants will be incorporated into the national electricity grid, enabling Santander to offset its consumption with the energy contributed to the network.

“The commitment to business management that is more respectful of the environment and communities is something we take very seriously.  It is not a question of mere good intentions or empty actions. On the contrary, we set clear goals that we have been achieving over the years through various initiatives such as a robust value offering enabling our customers to move toward a more planet-friendly economy and a consistent reduction in our consumption of water, paper, energy consumption, and other resources. Today, we are announcing the construction of these solar plants, which constitute an unprecedented step for local banks and large companies, with which we expect to continue to use our capacity and experience to contribute to the care of the ecosystem,” said Claudio Melandri.

He recalled that “climate change is a phenomenon that affects us all and hits the most vulnerable communities particularly hard. That is why it is the responsibility of everyone, from the private and public spheres, from individuals to large companies, to contribute with actions that safeguard our environment, which is currently facing a threat that could have catastrophic effects.”

The construction of these solar plants is in line with one of the Group’s global commitments to contribute to the UN-led SDGs. In 2019, Santander resolved that 100% of the energy it consumes should come from renewable sources in 2025 in those countries where it is possible to certify the source of electricity. In fact, since 2019, the entity in Chile has offset its entire footprint. In addition, it has proposed that its loan portfolio should also be carbon neutral by 2050, consistent with the targets set at Group level, which are in line with the objectives of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance, of which Santander is a member.

Miguel Mata added that “sustainability cuts across all our work and is at the heart of our strategy, both at the level of our own management and with regard to our customers. We have consistently demonstrated this and it is reflected in the latest results of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which positions us in the index for Chile, MILA Pacific Alliance and, for the second year in a row, within the demanding DJSI Emerging Markets, meaning that we are again the only local bank to be part of this select group of companies.”

Helping customers transition to a greener economy

The financial solutions linked to ESG criteria have been one of the Bank’s value propositions for companies that also seek to make progress in these areas. Through this financing alternative, Santander Chile has promoted a market that is still in the making at local level. “We have been part of important projects such as the Spence desalinator, the Cerro Dominador solar complex and a series of ESG credits in which the fee is linked to the fulfilment of certain KPIs in environmental, social and governance criteria,” Mata said.

In this regard, he added that “the Bank has a strict risk policy on activities in which its operations are restricted by the Equator Principles. All structured projects of over USD 10 million were evaluated under these principles. This allows us to be consistent with both internal policies and international requirements for the generation of projects that are respectful of the planet.”

Generating positive impacts

The S of ESG focuses on the contribution made to the sustainable development of communities. One of the stakeholder groups that falls into this category is precisely those who work in Santander. As it is always concerned about the development of its employees and generating a good working environment, Santander has made significant progress in this area. The entity is the best company with over 1,000 employees to work for in Chile, according to the 2020 Great Place to Work ranking. Once again it also received the Top Employer award, which highlights organisations with high standards worldwide in human resources management and which promote a favourable internal environment. In addition, this year Santander became the first bank in the country to receive the Iguala Conciliación Seal (for gender equality and work-life balance) from the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality, confirming its commitment to continue promoting diversity in its teams and to consolidate its position as the best place to work.