Rabobank steps up support for increasing clients’ sustainability

Executive Board Member Berry Marttin on new sustainability policy

5 December 2014 – Rabobank is convinced that both the general public and businesses must take the lead in strengthening communities and making food production more sustainable. That is why the bank will provide even more support for its clients in that particular area. ‘Sustainability is being made an even more integral part of our services’, highlights Rabobank Executive Board Member Berry Marttin, referring to ‘Sustainably successful together’, the memorandum on Rabobank’s contribution to sustainable development up to 2020.

‘Sustainability is essential to the long-term success of businesses, communities and agriculture and food supply’, Berry Marttin summarises the vision underlying ‘Sustainably successful together’. He provides several daily examples: ‘Individual members of the general public and businesses that cut costs by investing in sustainability, communities that operate more effectively because people jointly organise healthcare or energy supply and food production that uses less land and fewer raw materials.’

People have sustainable ideas themselves

Sustainability improvements begin with people themselves. ‘Both the general public and businesses often have the right ideas and also have an interest in this themselves, such as economic profitability and more prosperity and wealth in communities. People stand to benefit from this and in the end it also benefits us as a bank. Reflecting that importance, we will be stepping up our efforts in this area even further’, comments Marttin.

Strengthen and accelerate

Even though the initiatives must come from the general public and businesses themselves, Rabobank can strengthen and accelerate sustainable development on the basis of its role as a bank. Here are some examples of what Rabobank is already doing in this area:

  • Rabobank is the largest bank in the Netherlands in green savings, investments and financing
  • Rabobank stimulates innovation and the circular economy in the Netherlands
  • Dutch local Rabobanks bring consumers, fitters and subcontractors together at ‘Slim Verbouwen’ (Smart Refurbishment) events
  • Throughout the world, Rabobank develops and shares knowledge on making agriculture and food production more sustainable with farmers and other stakeholders.

Prioritising sustainability frontrunners

In the coming years, Rabobank aims to support its clients even more in sustainability. The bank is initiating numerous activities to help clients to achieve their ambitions. Rabobank will for example present new financial solutions for frontrunners in the field of sustainable development. Marttin: ‘Sustainability frontrunners will be given priority with respect to financing. We will also double the scale of services we provide them with. Furthermore, we will introduce new products that directly connect savers and investors at one hand and innovative and sustainable businesses on the other.’

‘On the basis of the sustainability profile, we can engage in dialogue and advise clients on potential improvements.’

Berry Marttin, Executive Board Rabobank

Financing innovations

Frontrunners and their innovations are important for further improving sustainability, but obtaining financing for innovations often represents a challenge. That is why since 2002 the Herman Wijffels Innovation Award has been awarded in the Netherlands to recognise innovation, in the sectors ‘circular economy’, ‘food & agri’ and ‘health & welfare’. In addition, Rabobank has launched an ‘innovation point’ in the Netherlands that supports businesses in finding financing solutions for innovation projects.

Model sustainable agriculture projects

In agriculture and food, Rabobank is committed to actively contributing to the worldwide acceleration of the process of making production chains more sustainable, such as those for beef, soy and palm oil. Partnerships with clients and social organisations, including the World Wildlife Fund, are important to this, to carry out small-scale ambitious model projects. Rabobank will also step up its contribution to the round tables for sustainable production.

Sustainability profile of business clients

Rabobank applies sustainability criteria for business clients and will make those transparent by means of sustainability photos. These will enable business clients to see where they stand in terms of their progress on certain aspects of sustainability. Marttin: ‘On the basis of the client profile, we can engage in dialogue and advise on potential improvements. This is aimed at stimulating businesses to improve their sustainability performance on an annual basis, which is usually accompanied by improvements in financial and economic returns. We are seeing in practice that this is helping clients to achieve gradual improvements.’

Transparency on improvement

In practice, that will also mean that there will be clients that do not meet the bank’s sustainability criteria. Marttin: ‘We will be transparent about the percentage of financing that temporarily does not meet the bank’s sustainability criteria, why that is so, what we are doing to correct this and changes in that percentage.’

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