Akbank announces stronger environmental protection in reaction to Ilisu dam controversy
When presenting its first sustainability report Akbank's Chairwoman Akbank Sabancı Dinçer announced that in the future the bank would act more responsibly and take to assess more thoroughly if projects impact the rights of children, environment or ethical principles. As the Turkish daily Hurriyet reports on April 16, 2010 the sustainability report has brought „new inspiration" for the bank's management and led to a new understanding of investment and engagement.
Suzan Sabancı Dinçer mentioned the controversy around the Ilisu dam project in Southeast Turkey as a reason to integrate a special article on environmental protection into the bank's guidelines. Together with the Turkish Garantibank Akbank pledged to covers part of the funding gap of the Ilisu project. This gap originates from the withdrawal of European export credit agencies and private banks due to unsolved environmental and social problems of the project in summer 2009. The article says that Akbank will not finance projects with environmental impacts in the future, its involvement in the Ilisu project was beyond question though, Sabancı Dinçer stated.
„The numerous campaign activities in Turkey and Europe are obviously effective", Heike Drillisch from CounterCurrent welcomes Sabancı Dinçer's announcement. The German network has followed the Ilisu dam project for many years and in the past months initiated a letter writing campaign and vigils in front of European Akbank offices. „It is completely inacceptable for Akbank to remain part of the Ilisu project after this announcement."
The Ilisu dam was a project of the Turkish treasury and the bank had therefore not had accessed the complete documents, Sabancı Dinçer had argued to explain Akbank's involvement.
„The approval of such a controversial project like the Ilisu dam without a proper assessment of all records provides an alarming evidence of incapacity", states Halime Yakut of CounterCurrent. „Akbank must announce its immediate withdrawal from the project and urge the Turkish government to irrevocably stop its construction."