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Itaú has been selected by the Exame magazine among the outstanding companies in the "Best in ESG" award

The EXAME magazine organized the "Best in ESG" award, which recognizes the companies that stand out regarding their environmental and social posture in 17 different sectors of the economy.

For the selection, the companies were subjected to a strict evaluation process developed by ABC Associados and adopted by EXAME’s team of journalists. The Best in ESG award took into account the main environmental, social and governance practices, in addition to the commitment of companies to the stakeholder capitalism in Brazil. Companies that had a revenue of, at least R$50 million in 2020, were eligible for the award.

The Best in ESG methodology was inspired by the free interpretation ofapproaches that emphasize a systemic vision of the world with respect to the ESG principles. Among them are the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Sustainability Guide for Companies of the Brazilian Institute of Corporate Governance (IBGC) and initiatives such as the Planetary Boundaries Framework, the Ecological Footprint, and the Doughnut Economics, among others.

Itaú Recognition: IMPACT ON THE PANDEMIC

Todos pela Saúde (All for Health): a task force against Covid-19, which raised R$1.5 billion and placed the ESG topic in the center of the bank’s strategy.

Itaú has marked one of the greatest corporate movements in Brazil in favor of a cause — and this is why it is an example to be followed by the Brazilian capitalism. When Brazil recorded 100 deaths caused by Covid-19 at the beginning of 2020, the bank announced to the market the Todos pela Saúde project, a fund for the donation of R$1 billion to help the Brazilian Single Healthcare System (SUS) in the relief efforts against the health crisis in Brazil.

The announcement was unprecedented because of several factors, beginning with the amount of funds involved. Until then, no company had ever donated such a huge amount to any social cause in a country that still has a long way to evolve in terms of philanthropy.

Only in the second half of 2020 was this amount equaled by a donation made by the food company JBS to fight Amazon deforestation. By giving the example and inspiring other companies to open their wallets to support the relief efforts against the coronavirus pandemic, Itaú’s donation helped the Brazilian philanthropy  raise over R$5 billion in the first five months of 2020, according to data from ABCR, a social organization responsible for measuring the volume of funds raised for this front in Brazil.

The amount is pratically twice as much as the amount of funds raised in a year by the Brazilian third sector.

Itaú’s donation has also innovated the format as it was made through an endowment, a fund managed by third parties — in this case, a group of health experts led by the general director of the Sírio-Libanês Hospital, Paulo Chapchap — which could be supplemented by other companies.

Weeks after Itaú’s kickoff, companies such as Braskem, a plastic manufacturer, Suzano, a paper and pulp manufacturer, and Coteminas and Malwee, textile manufacturers, joined the campaign. Even Itaú’s employees made donations as individuals to the Todos pela Saúde project. More than one year later, the project has raised over R$500 million from other funding sources.

The scope of the fund led by Itaú was also an important turning point in the trajectory of Brazilian corporate social responsibility. Before, companies’ CEOs who were willing to finance projects focused on the everyday life of the public apparatus were rare — a bureaucracy with rules and pace of work that usually exasperate those who are used to the faster speed of the private sector.

More than a year later, those responsible for the Todos pela Saúde project have significant results to show. Nearly R$100 million was donated to vaccine plants. Half of this amount was donated to the Butantan Institute in São Paulo, and the other half, to Fiocruz, in Rio de Janeiro, where it has also helped build a processing center for PCR-type tests, which are the market’s standard test against Covid-19.

Amid the collapse of public hospitals driven by the escalated consumption of oxygen in ICUs dedicated to intubated Covid-19 patients, the Todos pela Saúde project donated three oxygen production plants to SUS, in addition to 6,000 hospital items, such as pressure regulators, and 3 million medicines for patient intubation. Over 14 million masks were distributed to the population — and advertising campaigns helped disseminate information on their proper use.

Early in 2021, in view of the escalation of the number of Covid-19 cases to even more dramatic levels, the Todos pela Saúde project announced the opening of a center of studies on new pandemics.
The intention is to turn the space located at Avenida Paulista, in the central area of the city of São Paulo, into a center designed to be a Center for Disease Control and Prevention like the one in the United States, also known as CDC, one of the world’s references in epidemiological surveillance.

“We want to leave as a legacy an initiative that helps Brazil to be prepared for future health crisis,” says Leila Melo, member of Itaú’s executive committee for topics such as sustainability and governance and head of the Todos pela Saúde project.

According to Ms. Melo’s opinion, the task force against the pandemic changed the bank’s approach to address the ESG agenda. Topics such as environment and education had already been part of the agenda for at least two decades. “Today, these discussions are no longer spread across the company,” she says. “Rather, they are in the center of the company’s decisions.” | Leo Branco