What are the minimum standards exactly?
"Since its foundation in 1980, Triodos Bank is in business to create a society that protects and promotes the quality of life for all, and that has human dignity at its core. We enable individuals, organisations, and businesses to use their money in ways that benefit people and the environment.
Sustainable finance requires choices. Very deliberate choices on what Triodos Bank and its subsidiary Triodos Investment Management finance and invest in. On what really contributes to a sustainable future. It requires clear boundaries on what we can finance. The minimum standards clearly explain the products, processes, and activities that we do not want to be involved in.
Our minimum standards date back to 1997, when we launched Triodos Meerwaarde Aandelenfonds. They were developed by the former Triodos Research Team and made part of the selection process for this fund. Later, they were adopted for all Triodos Bank’s financing and investment activities."
What are activities that you exclude?
"The exclusions in the minimum standards fall into three categories: human dignity, planet awareness, and governance awareness. Each of these categories has plenty of activities that detract from the positive impact that we want to create. For instance, we do not finance the fossil and nuclear power sectors; and we also exclude weapons, tobacco, factory farming, deforestation and other harmful sectors and activities."
How does Triodos Bank compare to other financial institutions?
"Compared to mainstream banks and asset managers, we are very strict. This makes sense, because Triodos Bank has always been a sustainable bank, unlike the mainstream financial sector. Our minimum standards really do set us apart. Thankfully, there are other sustainable financial institutions in the world, applying comparable criteria. For instance, member banks of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, GABV."
How does Triodos Bank apply the minimum standards in daily practice?
"They are used across the organisation, from business banking to investment management, from current and savings accounts of business clients to suppliers. The minimum standards are applied based on reasonability and proportionality, to avoid unreasonable demands of our smallest clients.
When we are looking into financing a company, we apply the standards as zero-tolerance exclusionary criteria for certain activities. For other activities, we set maximum revenue thresholds. This means a company can only derive a small percentage of its revenue from this activity. Detailed fact sheets help us to apply minimum standards in our day-to-day business. "
What are the most important changes in this update?
"We describe more in detail how we apply the minimum standards, especially the proportionality I mentioned earlier. We have added asbestos mining and deep-sea mining as controversial activities, and nuclear weapons as controversial weapons. Financing the arms industry fundamentally contradicts this mission: the use of weapons, whenever and wherever, undermines human physical and psychological integrity and ignites a culture of conflict and violence.
And we now describe that generally we do not invest or finance the mining industry, but that we may invest in companies that are focused on recycling metals and minerals, which falls under the mining industry. And lastly, we included new guidelines on excessive remuneration."
How do you plan to keep the minimum standards up to date?
"Our minimum standards are dynamic and incorporate changes prompted by legislation, technological developments and innovation, public debate, best-practice standards, and company behaviour. In addition, engagement and continuous dialogue with experts, interest groups and civil society organisations may prompt amendments. That is why we examine the standards at least every two years, to stay abreast of new developments."