For more than a decade, the high-street bank HSBC has made nature and the environment a priority in its charitable giving.
Between 2001 and 2006, the bank ran the Investing in Nature programme in partnership with the charities WWF and Earthwatch. When the five-year partnership came to an end, it decided that it wanted to continue investing in the same cause area and created the HSBC Climate Partnership.
The partnership comprises the bank and four environmental charities - Earthwatch, WWF, The Climate Group and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The partners have set themselves the goal of reducing the impact of climate change on people, forests, fresh water and cities.
The purpose of the project was to reduce the impact of climate change, paying special attention to studying the role of forests, improving water resources, protecting the habitats of endangered species and piloting 'clean-tech' solutions to environmental issues. It also sought to influence government policy.
The partners set about creating a programme to address these issues that closely involved HSBC's global workforce. The bank invested $100m (about £50m at the time) in the partnership, which in 2007 was thought to be the largest charitable donation made by a British-based company. It set up a team to manage the programme and deployed its employees on various projects. More than 63,000 staff globally took part in community volunteer days and 186 senior managers attended a sustainability leadership programme.
Each charity partner had its own focus and objectives. Earthwatch provided training to more than 2,000 HSBC employees so they could become 'climate champions' for the company. The Climate Group collaborated with governments and businesses internationally to promote low-carbon technologies: one initiative tested LED street lights in 10 cities, including Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Mumbai and New York.
The Smithsonian undertook the biggest-ever experiment to assess the impact of forests on water and carbon. The bank worked with the institute to create a database of 4.5 million trees in 46 forests, which is now used by scientists worldwide.
The WWF focused on protecting fresh-water resources and improving fish stocks in rivers including the Ganges, the Amazon and the Thames. It has also supported the development of new water policies in Brazil, China, India and the UK.
Peter Gilheany, director of Forster Communications and one of the category judges, described the programme as "a truly impressive achievement, built on strategic vision and commitment across the board".
- See who the other winners were at this year's awards