Scotiabank Instilling Environmental Awareness and a Commitment to Green Mobility

Sep 26, 2017 5:35 PM ET

The following story is part of Scotiabank’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)Impact series. The series will highlight various initiatives at the Bank in relation to Scotiabank’s CSR priorities and commitments.

Climate change and air pollution are large environmental challenges affecting all of us. At Scotiabank, we recognize that a better future is intrinsically linked to the health of our planet, and we are committed to reducing our impact on the environment. We are proud of how Banco Colpatria (Scotiabank’s Colombian subsidiary) is encouraging employees to commute by bike and influencing other companies in the process. By addressing the heavy traffic and poor air quality problems commonly found in cities around the world, Colpatria’s Torre en Bici (“To the Tower by Bike) initiative is also helping employees feel healthy, be productive and save time.

Pedaling toward the future of clean transportation in Colombia

The number of cars and buses on Bogotá, Colombia’s streets has increased steadily over the past decade. As a result, commuters are spending more time than ever stuck in traffic during peak hours, and many residents have had to change their routines to account for the extra time required to travel through the city.

The effects of too much traffic

Dense traffic has begun to seriously impact several aspects of life in Bogotá. Overly crowded streets prevent goods, services, and workers from getting to where they need to go. Emissions from vehicles are affecting health: Bogotá’s air is not safe to breathe according to WHO standards, and many citizens are facing respiratory infections due to poor air quality. As the cars lining the streets of Bogotá produce more carbon dioxide, the climate in Bogotá and its surrounding areas are becoming warmer. As a result, several regions in Colombia are experiencing an increase in natural disasters, such as flooding and landslides.

Eduardo Bohórquez, an employee of Banco Colpatria (Scotiabank’s Colombian subsidiary) since 2010, has experienced Bogotá’s traffic firsthand. His commute to Torre Colpatria — Colpatria’s iconic 50-story tower in downtown Bogotá — has increased dramatically.

Eduardo explains: “Just getting to work in a car takes me at least an hour and a half, and sometimes even two.

“That’s two hours that I am sitting in a car, going nowhere, and polluting the air.”

Make way for the bicyclists

Fortunately, Eduardo has a more environmentally responsible option available to him. Along with several of his colleagues, Eduardo participates in a new Colpatria initiative called A La Torre en Bici (“To the Tower by Bike”) that aims to reduce pollution and congestion by encouraging more employees to commute by bike. At the base of Torre Colpatria (Colpatria’s headquarter building), the Bank has built a “cycloparqueadero” — or bicycle parking lot — that features amenities designed specifically for bicycle commuters like Eduardo, including 160 secure bike parking units and 200 lockers for personal belongings and showers that allow employees to rinse off after their commute.

“Commuting by bike helps improve air quality and fights climate change by using a means of transportation that does not rely on fossil fuels to operate.” explains Eduardo. “And it also is good for me. I can spend more time with my family. It takes between 50 and 55 minutes to commute from work on my bike — roughly half the time it would take using other means of transport. And I can tell you that my energy, health and productivity have all improved considerably.”

Leading the way

The effects of Colpatria’s transportation initiative also extend beyond Eduardo and his colleagues at the bank. A la Torre en Bicihas begun to have a ripple effect on other businesses in downtown Bogotá. A handful of companies have followed Colpatria’s example and now encourage their employees to bike to work.

Eduardo is seeing many more cyclists during his commute: “The fact that Colpatria’s building is an icon of the city allows us to be noticed and set an example. We can be an incentive for other companies to instill environmental awareness and a commitment to green mobility in Bogotá.”

Better Future, Better Off

Eduardo sees A la Torre en Bici as an important way that Colpatria is working toward a better future for everyone. “Bicycle commuting is better. I release a lot of stress with exercise during my commute and I feel that I am more productive for our customers because of it.”

However, the benefits of the initiative aren’t just individual — they also extend to the entire city and its environment. “Climate change and air quality are big problems — far too big for just one person or even one organization to make much of a difference. Resiliency depends on cooperative efforts.” Initiatives such as Colpatria’s A la Torre en Bici influence beyond the Bank, helping catalyze efforts to collectively combat climate change and reduce our impact on the environment. With all of the bike commuters on the streets of Bogotá, that’s what this initiative is starting to accomplish.”

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