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Sustainability is about ensuring long-term business success while contributing toward economic and social development, a healthy environment, and a stable society. IFC’s definition of sustainability as applied to financial institutions encompasses the following dimensions of good business performance:

  • The financial sustainability of the financial institution and its client-companies, so that they can continue to make a long-term contribution to development;
  • The economic sustainability of the projects and companies the financial institution finances, through their contribution to host economies;
  • Environmental sustainability through the preservation of natural resources; and
  • Social sustainability through improved living standards, poverty reduction, concern for the welfare of communities, and respect for key human rights.

Together, these considerations aim to capture a fuller range of factors that influence the decisions, activities, products, and services of financial institutions, including the environmental and social impacts of their work.

IFC is committed to supporting sustainable capital market development and has a significant program of investment that is implemented through financial institutions. By applying a comprehensive set of Environmental and Social Standards to projects, IFC expects to achieve environmental and social sustainability, which represents an important component of positive development outcomes of projects. IFC also helps clients identify potential business opportunities for environmental and social improvement through Sustainable Finance Products.


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