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Banking experts and officials called upon the implementation of a sustainable methodology on values for the banking operations system in Palestine, by adopting policies and procedures that contribute to the development of banking and insurance sector and Palestinian private sector organizations, with an aim to achieve comprehensive economic and social development in Palestine.

This call for initiative took place during the First Banking on Values conference, which was organized by Bank of Palestine in partnership with the Global Alliance for Banking on Values. The conference was held in the city of Ramallah in the presence of Mr. Azzam Al Shawa, the Governor of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, Mr. Hashim Al Shawa, the Chairman of Bank of Palestine Group, Mr. Peter Bloom, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, and Mr. Kees Van Baar, Head of Mission of the Netherlands Representative Office in Palestine, and featured the participation of several foreign experts, Palestinian businessmen, officials from the private, public and civil society sectors, including the press and media.

During the opening session, Mr. Hashim Shawa greeted the President of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values and expressed his enthusiasm about his participation in the conference that was held under difficult political, economic and social circumstances confronted by Palestine. Al Shawa stressed his willingness to promote the importance of values within the Palestinian banking system, especially since most Palestinian banks realize the reality of work in Palestine, and the ethics and circumstances involved.

Al Shawa encouraged all financial institutions and banks to adopt the principles of sustainable financing and commitment to environmental and social standards by supporting Palestinian women, children and youth, positively impacting society through social responsibility projects, encouraging the culture of volunteerism and paying special attention to marginalized social groups that fall outside the framework of banking services.

His Excellency Mr. Azzam Al Shawa, the Governor of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, stressed the interest of the PMA and the Palestinian banking system to commit to values, including the values of corporate social responsibility, by sponsoring and supporting sustainable development projects in the fields of health, education, women, youth, sports, persons with disabilities, the environment and the eradication of poverty, to name a few. He also encouraged diligent efforts to create an environment that empowers women financially and promote financial and banking awareness campaigns.

His Excellency pointed out that the efforts conducted by the banking sector in the field of financial inclusion and under the leadership of the Palestinian Monetary Authority are being praised and commended by global institutions. These efforts, according the Al Shawa, “will contribute to providing banking services to marginalized groups and remote areas, and the PMA has issued instructions for banks to invest in economic projects, including Palestinian startups, that contribute to economic growth, with an aim to promote the role of these banks in sustainable economic development.

Al Shawa expressed his gratitude to the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, represented by its Chairman, Mr. Peter Bloom, and commended his organization’s effective efforts that contribute to sustainable economic and social development. He also thanked Bank of Palestine, represented by Chairman Hashim Al Shawa, for all its innovative programs and initiatives and for continuously keeping up with the latest global developments in banking.

Mr. Peter Bloom praised the efforts conducted by Palestinian banks, especially Bank of Palestine, in promoting transparency and mobilizing efforts to adopt a sustainable values program, which will result in constructive economic and social development that is able to survive under various circumstances and achieve a dignified life for society.  Mr. Bloom also pointed of that the values derived from transparent economic work will achieve comprehensive social development and non-financial projects implemented by banks in various countries around the world.

Mr. Kees Van Baar, Head of Mission of the Netherlands Representative Office in Palestine, spoke about the efforts conducted by the Dutch government in several countries to assist them in developing their economy through financial institutions and insurance companies. He also pointed out the values methodology in developing health performance in African countries, which lack health insurance, and stressed the importance of these values in banking. “The Netherlands was one of the leading countries that adopted this methodology in its banking activities, leaving a mark in the field,” stated Van Baar.

The second session was conducted by Dr. Marcos Eguiguren, the Executive Director of Global Alliance for Banking on Values, on how financial inclusion could expand the values methodology for banks and society, including activities implemented by institutions in the field of financial inclusion, projects implemented by mobile branches, women empowerment projects, combatting poverty, caring for children, education, corporate social responsibility, etc. The session featured the participation of Mr. Rushdi Ghalayini, the General Director of Bank of Palesine, Mr. Barraq Nabulsi, the Executive Director of the Palestine Capital Market Authority, Mr. Anwar Al Jayusi, the General Director of Faten Palestine for Credit Development, Mr. Iyad Jayusi, the Director of the Palestine Banking Institute, and Dr. Rana Al Khatib, the Director of Research and Planning at the Welfare Association.

The third session was conducted by Ms. Yvonne Helle, Special Representative of the Administrator UNDP’s Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People. Helle spoke about sustainability and values in the context of sustainable development goals and impact investing, and aligning values in development. During the session, participants discussed the cornerstones of banking operations based on values, the Sustainable Development Plan 2030 for the prosperity of the world and society on the basis of no sustainable development without peace and justice for all and without effective partnerships with stakeholders. Discussions revolved around the development of a national strategy and a sustainable plan of action based on sustainable development goals and Triple Bottom Line sustainability, ensuring that all companies adopt sustainable and ethical value-based methods that take environmental, economic and social issues into consideration. The session involved the participation of Ms. Lana Abu Hijleh, the Director of Youth Make the Future, Mr. Rafiq Nasrallah, the Director of Investment at the French Agency for Cooperation and Development, Ms. Fadoua Boudiba, Senior Investment Officer for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at Triodos Investment Management, and Mr. Hanna Sahar, the Director of Credit Management at Bank of Palestine.  

Mr. Kamel Husseini, the Head of International and Investor Relations at Bank of Palestine, led the closing session on the protection of values in a digital age, especially among youth, and discussed global initiatives and the participation of youth in making the future. The session featured the participation of Mr. Habib Hazzan, the Director of Ibtikar Fund, Mr. Ali Tazmi, Director of Injez, Mr. Iyad Qumsiyeh, the General Director of PalPay, and Mr. Benoit Sicard, Youth Development Officer at UNICEF.

Several recommendations were proposed, stressing the importance of adopting a value methodology for banking operations in Palestine and the region, in order to achieve sustainable development goals and build generations of leaders that are able to develop and have a positive impact on society.