Eerlijke Bankwijzer appreciates Rabobank’s tougher sustainability policy

In its 15th policy update, Eerlijke Bankwijzer (Honest Bank Guide) expresses its appreciation for Rabobank’s tougher sustainability policy in the past year. The bank has declared land grabbing to be unacceptable and it is now more transparent regarding its lending policy. Rabobank scores satisfactory to good on most of the eighteen themes and sectors assessed, including human rights, labour, arms policy, fishing and food. According to Eerlijke Bankwijzer, the bank needs to improve in six themes.

Looking beyond oil
‘We are pleased with the appreciation expressed by Eerlijke Bankwijzer regarding Rabobank. Unfortunately the Bankwijzer report does not do justice to the efforts and achievements of Rabobank in a number of respects,’ commented Bas Rüter, Director of Sustainability. Rabobank does for instance set proper conditions for livestock businesses with respect to animal welfare. The bank encourages livestock farmers to use certification, but does not set this as a requirement. With regard to the funding of oil drilling, Rabobank sets strict conditions, including the funding of oil drilling in the Arctic.

Rüter also looks beyond oil in this respect: ‘Rabobank is one of the largest investors in wind energy worldwide. We encourage businesses to invest in renewable energy and we aim to increase this. We also encourage homeowners in the Netherlands to invest in energy-saving measures and thus make their homes more sustainable.’ Unfortunately the Bankwijzer report completely ignores the efforts made with respect to the financing of housing and real estate, a core business of the bank.

Unrealistic
The fact that the organisations behind the Eerlijke Bankwijzer continue to encourage the banks’ progress on the path of sustainable development is understandable and justified. However expectations have to be kept realistic. The Eerlijke Bankwijzer apparently thinks the banks should have a policy of interfering in the business of their customers, and even the customers of their customers. Bas Rüter: ‘It would seem that they expect the bank to be looking over the shoulders of our business customers all day to see what they are doing. This is not realistic. Our customers must meet minimum standards and we encourage them to continue to improve the sustainability of their operations and mitigate negative effects.’

Sustainability Index
Rabobank’s positive distinction with respect to sustainability was confirmed this year by the independent research agency RobecoSam: Rabobank is one of the 10% best-performing banks on sustainability. In the measurement of the most sustainable banks worldwide, we finished 12th out of more than 100 banks according to the system of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

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Marie-Christine Reusken

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