Uruguayan firms under pressure to update sustainability standards

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, December 09, 2021
Uruguayan firms under pressure to update sustainability standards

Uruguayan firms must improve sustainability standards, including adopting GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) methodologies, to report the social and environmental impacts of their operations to keep appealing to customers.

“Firms that don’t have this [approach] incorporated already have a very compromised mid-term outlook,” Lucía Cabanas, Itaú Uruguay’s marketing, sustainability and corporate communications head said during a sustainability webinar by newspaper El País.

She added that customers and investors are already evaluating firms’ reporting standards and how they mitigate negative externalities. This development has intensified in the wake of the pandemic.

Cabanas said banks, for example, will eventually reward sustainability-conscious customers with perks such as lower interest rates, commission-free bank accounts and longer payment periods.

Although a framework to determine what counts as sustainable customer behavior has yet to be established, Itaú, in collaboration with a government program funded by the Global Environment Facility, is already providing preferential rates to companies that seek to buy electric vehicles.

Cabanas said Itaú is the only major bank in Uruguay which provides reports using the GRI framework. More firms will follow “not only in the financial sector, but all businesses, because there’s a more conscious customer now, and it wants to choose.”

GRI’s director for Hispanic America, Andrea Padilla, told the webinar that the trend is turning toward sustainability reporting in Uruguay and the region. 

“Each time we have fewer negationist firms that say ‘no, I have always done business this way, and it turned out well for me. Why change?’,” she said.

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