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Alexandra Basirov, Global Head of Sustainable Finance, FIC, BNP Paribas

Alexandra Basirov.jpg

Please give us some background information on yourself and how your organisation plays a leading role in the climate risk agenda?

I drive the commercial strategy for sustainable finance for our financial institutions client base.

Through many internal – such as our own CSR sector policies – and external initiatives, BNP Paribas plays a leading role in driving the climate risk agenda. For example, BNP Paribas supports the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) and is one of the 16 banks participating in the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) pilot. The pilot’s contributions have better equipped participating banks, and the banking industry at large, to implement the TCFD’s recommendations.

BNP Paribas is also part of the Katowice Commitment, which sees us measure the alignment of our lending portfolio with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and explore ways we can channel progressively our core lending financial flows towards meeting these goals in the future.

For BNP Paribas, this is about more than de-risking. It is also about making a positive impact. This is a science-based, forward-looking approach to financing sector-specific shifts in technology and production processes. Why this approach? Because it’s not where our clients are today, it’s about where they are heading tomorrow. Our role is also to anticipate, design and deliver the financial products and services needed to support our clients’ transition to the low-carbon economy.

We also participate in the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI) working groups. This is a collaboration between CDP, the UN Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and supports companies willing to set environmental objectives that are in line with the Paris Agreement.

Here in the UK, we are also a member of the UK PRA and the FCA’s joint Climate Financial Risk Forum that was set up earlier this year.

How do you see climate change affecting your organisation/the organisations you work with?

Simply stated, there will be winners and losers. Firms that align their business models to the transition to a carbon-neutral world will be better placed to realise sustainable, long-term growth and profitability, compared to those that don’t.

What’s the one thought you would like attendees to take away with them from the Climate Risk Summit?

Climate change and society’s response to it presents financial risks and opportunities. While these risks may crystallise in full only over the long-term, they are emerging right now. We need to recognise the immediacy of the situation and take action to embed sustainable finance into every aspect of the business we do. 

How have businesses' attitudes towards the management of climate risks changed in the last year? 

Firms are increasingly recognising that risk from climate change is like other financial risks and therefore are enhancing their approaches to managing this risk. However, they face challenges in doing so due to the forward-looking nature of climate risk and there are no harmonised, universal disclosure requirements on the transition risks to a lower carbon economy and the physical risks from climate change.