UniCredit’s Roberta Marracino: Banking with a Social Impact

Head of Group ESG Strategy & Impact Banking: Roberta Marracino

Head of Group ESG Strategy & Impact Banking: Roberta Marracino

Determined to help shape the post-pandemic ‘new normal’, UniCredit is stepping on the accelerator to redouble its efforts at sparking meaningful change in the lives of accountholders and in the wider society.

UniCredit’s Social Impact Banking programme, first launched in 2017 and now present across 11 markets of the Group, is being deployed and strengthened as a vehicle of positive societal change. The programme leverages the bank’s vast pan-European branch network to connect communities, exchange experiences, and build ‘social impact ecosystems’ supported by aggregative financial schemes that fulfil the requirements of all stakeholders.

Overseeing the programme – and pushing the limits of its envelope – is Roberta Marracino who in July took over as head of the group’s ESG Strategy and Impact Banking department with a seat on the bank’s executive management committee. “The current situation is further accelerating the transformation of the entire society in a more sustainable direction and we will continue to play a frontrunner role,” says Marracino before emphasising that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria represent an ‘important’ opportunity for long-term growth by bridging and matching the interests of the bank’s customers and other parties such as shareholders, employees, and communities.

“Our current goal is to disburse a total of €1 billion of financing through Social Impact Banking by 2023. ESG targets and ambitions are a fundamental part of UniCredit’s strategic plan, including the commitment to have a positive social impact across our local markets.”

Marracino accentuates that the group has set a number of concrete ESG targets such as a full stop to the financing of coal-related businesses by 2028: “Furthermore, we will boost our support to the renewable energy sector by 25 percent over the next three years as well as increasing loans for projects that improve energy efficiency to SMEs and private individuals. UniCredit already granted €2.1 billion of such loans in Western Europe over the first half of 2020. Our bank is also ranked at the top of the league tables for global sustainability-linked loans and green bonds.”

According to Marracino, the group aims to tailor its approach to specific local conditions and circumstances, matching its initiatives to identify and address the most pressing needs: “This ranges from support of social entrepreneurship or micro businesses through impact finance and microcredit, to large scale financial education programmes and financing aimed specifically at supporting young people or women.”

UniCredit has made a long-term commitment to ESG which sits at the very core part of its business model: “We support our clients, communities, and partners in becoming increasingly sustainable. This is an important challenge, but we firmly believe that every company must do more than ‘business as usual’ to have an impact towards a sustainable future.”

UniCredit has been widely recognised as an ESG pioneer and an early adopter of sustainability principles. Its experience in these fields is now being rallied to help both the institution and its stakeholders navigate the choppy and largely uncharted waters of the pandemic. Marracino explains that UniCredit has already disbursed more than €6.4 billion to European SMEs to help mitigate the pandemic’s impact and ensure their survival. Meanwhile, the UniCredit Foundation offers support to hospitals and other non-profit entities manning the frontlines of the battle against the novel virus.

“The Social Impact Banking programme will continue to identify and directly promote the most deserving social entrepreneurs and micro businesses with a dedicated impact finance and microcredit offer. We will continue to do the right thing and support businesses and communities through this difficult time.”

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