Stockholm (NordSIP) – Handelsbanken announced that Catharina Belfrage Sahlstrand (Pictured) will take over as Head of Sustainability at the Swedish bank on September 1st. Sahlstrand replaces Camilla Johansson, who has been acting head of Sustainability since April 2019. She took over these responsibilities after the previous Head of Sustainability and Communication, Elisabet Jamal Bergström, left for SEB and as part of a larger re-organisation inside the bank.
Sahlstrand has been with Handelsbanken since March 2013, when she joined as a Legal Counsel. In the intervening years, she has worked as Head of Legal, Head of Legal and Transaction Management and most recently Head of Sustainable Business Development. She joined Handelsbanken from Mannheimer Swartling where she was a Senior associate since September 2005. She is a graduate of Lund University where she holds a Master of Laws.
Discussing her expectation for this new role, she noted that the “main purpose and objective of our sustainability work is to benefit our customers, maintain a low risk level, add value for society as a whole and generations to come. (…) I have great expectations for what we, as a bank, should, and will be able to, achieve. Our business model is renowned for being sustainable, but the world is facing monumental sustainability challenges, so we need to increase our ambitions and efforts in this area. I’m very much looking forward to working on the long-term strategies that we have put in place for Handelsbanken to be able to both adapt and contribute as we inevitably move towards a more sustainable world and economy.”
Considering the different ESG factors, Sahlstrand also focused on the environment. “I am not much for ranking sustainability topics. (…) However, I do think that the climate issue will dominate and heavily impact our business, as well as the work by other market participants. A number of international agreements and initiatives, particularly from the EU, place high expectations on the financial sector when it comes to environmental and climate issues.”
Looking ahead, the incoming Head of Sustainability was keen to emphasise the fact that sustainability is about more than complying with requirements. “We must also (…) understand and address the fact that climate risk is not fully priced-in in the economy of today.”
“Among the future winners will be companies that work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, find ways to increase carbon sequestration, or come up with solutions for how society can adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change,” she concluded.
Picture: Handelsbanken / NordSIP