Greening the banking products: Mr. Vrasidas Zavras, Head of Environmental Department, Piraeus Bank S.A., speaks at UNEP FI's Central and Eastern European Task Force outreach events in Bucharest and Sofia

Mr. Vrassidas Zavras, Consultant and Head of the Environment Department of Piraeus Bank, gave two presentations during events organised by UNEP FI in Romania and Bulgaria, on October 9 and 11, 2007, respectively. The events were attended by delegates from banks and insurance companies of the two countries as well as Greek members of UNEP FI.

Piraeus Bank has become a member of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) since June 2007. UNEP FI is a global partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the financial sector. Over 170 institutions, including banks, insurers and fund managers, work with UNEP to understand the impacts of environmental and social considerations on financial performance.

In his presentations, Mr. Zavras pointed out the opportunities arising for financial institutions in utilising Community funding instruments to promote actions that mitigate their environmental impacts. He highlighted the momentum GREENbanking4Life generated in managing and reducing Piraeus Bank's environmental impacts and also in launching “green” banking products, thus further strengthening the new “green” market in Greece. GREENbanking4Life is a project supported by the LIFE financial instrument of the European Commission.

“It is very important that we had the opportunity, by partaking in an international network, to talk about investment opportunities and the benefits deriving from the mitigation of a business's ecological footprint,” said Mr. Zavras. And added, “This becomes even more important when one considers that the events took place in two countries where Piraeus Bank has a strong presence with 164 branches to date.”