With its headquarters on the banks of the Pinheiros River, in São Paulo’s south zone, Santander Brasil has cemented itself as a vital player in the remarkable transformation process that is increasingly visible in the region. Among other initiatives, the Bank has invested in revitalizing the São Paulo bike path, converting the Vila Olímpia train station into the country’s first sustainable one, developing the Bruno Covas Park, as well as in river clean-up projects. All this has decisively contributed to the sustainable development of a noble, but little frequented area of São Paulo. The goal is to draw the population to the river’s surroundings, which can establish itself as one of the city’s top tourist attractions in the coming years. “If all businesses were to contribute to the development of the community in which they operate, the quality of life across the entire city would certainly change for the better. The effects would reverberate well beyond the benefits experienced by local communities, positively impacting the wellbeing of millions of people inhabiting São Paulo,” explains Patricia Audi, Vice President of Santander Brasil. One of the pioneering actions was the conversion of CPTM’s bustling Vila Olímpia train stop into the country’s first sustainable railway station. It now has a rainwater collection system, dozens of photovoltaic panels for solar energy generation, a new and large bike rack, a vertical garden, and a slew of other upgrades. All this was developed with Santander’s support and sponsorship. “The 14 sustainable initiatives that we put into practice have boosted efficiency in the use of natural resources and improved the quality of experience for the more than 35,000 passengers who travel through the station every day of the week,” Patricia Audi adds. The Bank is so confident in this initiative that the project used to transform the station is public and available for implementation at other stations by any company. “We want this space to be a showcase that inspires other companies and governments, so that similar initiatives can proliferate throughout Brazil,” she says. Santander has also contributed to give a new look to a well-known recreational destination in the region, located on the east bank of the Pinheiros River: the so-called São Paulo bike path, which has been completely renovated with the Bank’s support. The route received fresh paint, markings, and signage, as well as rest areas equipped with toilets and air conditioning, among other improvements that increase visitor safety and convenience.) During the process, over 50 tons of garbage were removed and all vegetation along the track’s 21.5 kilometers was taken care of. New additions include changing rooms and Santander Space, a communal area with equipment and services for bicycle riders to use and rest. The Bank backs amateur and professional cyclists on several fronts. Along with supporting bike paths, providing specific insurance for this demographic, and pioneering financing for sports and electric bicycles, the institution sponsors Olympic mountain biker Henrique Avancini and owns the naming rights to the Santander Brasil Ride and L’Étape Santander. On the other side of the Pinheiros River, Santander is also the biggest sponsor of the Bruno Covas Park, which is operated by Consórcio Parque Novo Rio Pinheiros. The park stretches 17.1 kilometers in length, featuring a running track and an 8.2-kilometer-long bicycle lane, which will likely be extended further.
Furthermore, the park will also have a new floating walkway and observation deck overlooking the Estaiada Bridge, in addition to four fully equipped community centers. This is a region in which the flow of people is concentrated on weekdays, and where the development of new leisure and sports attractions also alters the usage dynamics of the place. “Our headquarters are located on the banks of the Pinheiros River, and we have always wished to transform the region. Just as we bring light to the city’s downtown district, where we are present through Santander Lighthouse and our Investment Block, we are reviving this recreational corridor for São Paulo residents, which is also a sustainable and healthy transportation mode,” Patricia Audi notes. To further maximize the possibilities of this space and directly contribute to environmental preservation, Santander has established a partnership with the IFC (International Finance Corporation), a World Bank-linked institution, committing US$ 100 million to clean up the Pinheiros River.
Even before the term was coined, ESG (environmental, social and governance) practices were ingrained in the culture of the institution, which has invested in sustainable initiatives for decades. In 2021 alone, R$ 56 billion was allocated to sustainable business financing across the country. Internally, we take our efforts seriously as well: the Bank is already carbon neutral and will utilize 100% renewable energy by 2025. Santander has also committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, in an initiative comprising the Bank itself, as well as its suppliers and customers.