As we enter 2018, the importance of creating sustainable urban growth is starting to build global recognition. At the forefront of this, HSBC launched their new sustainability bond in 2017 in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), whilst partnering with Earthwatch to lead the way as an organisation committed to supporting climate research, providing insights and solutions for sustainable financing.

“This is the first time that a private sector entity has issued a benchmark-size bond of this type and reflects the Group’s commitment to financing projects that benefit communities and the environment.” HSBC


Uniting scientists, the public and corporate sector

Building off a successful five year partnership, HSBC and Earthwatch have worked closely over the last year to launch the new global HSBC Sustainability Training Programme. Rooted in robust science and generating key research insights into climate change and urbanisation challenges, this programme is an evolution of the HSBC Water Programme partnership to focus on the wider climatic challenges we face in the wake of an increasing urban landscape.

This two day programme is an opportunity for HSBC employees to learn about key environmental issues and how these interconnect with economic and social challenges. At the same time, they will get involved with state-of-the-art science right where the key problems lie - in the core of our capitals and large cities. Under the guidance of leading researchers in eight different countries, the programme ultimately generates data, empowers sustainability leaders and creates a foundation of knowledge from which adaptive finance can thrive.  


Green infrastructure - a sustainable solution for the big challenges

According to the UN, two thirds of the human population will live in cities by 2050 and in the European Union, over 70% of citizens currently live in urban and peri-urban areas - a figure expected to increase to 80% by 2020. The consequences of this growth are well documented and include elevated temperatures (urban heat island effect), increased ambient noise, storm water flooding, and elevated water and air pollution that are causing alarming harm to our human health, ecosystems and the economy.

Green urban areas are a sustainable, cost-effective and resilient nature-based solution to combat and mitigate the effects of climate change and urbanisation. Green infrastructure, such as wooded areas and wetlands, has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air and water quality, cool the environment and conserve biodiversity.

The new HSBC Sustainability Training Programme will lead research to investigate the use of green urban areas within cities across the world at the heart of economic growth. Uniquely targeted at the needs of each specific city, the programme aims to identify ‘best practice’ to ultimately enhance the ecosystem services these areas can provide.


A snapshot of our programme in Europe- across the UK and France, our research is looking to attain a deeper understanding of how urban trees located in parks and streets help to cool the atmosphere, mitigate flooding and reduce soil pollution. The performance of urban trees in two main urban environments, heavily maintained parks and ‘natural’ unmanaged green areas, will be monitored by HSBC employees through:

  • Utilising infrared cameras to understand the cooling effect of trees.
  • Measuring the chlorophyll content of tree leaves to estimate their productivity.
  • Measuring the water infiltrated around trees


Understanding the conditions in which trees perform better could have significant implications for how we design and manage our green spaces in urban areas in the future ensuring a better quality of human life and a reduction in ecosystem disruption.


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