European cooperation has brought us a long way, and we need European cooperation going forward. That is why Triodos Bank is actively engaging with EU policy makers to change finance for the better.

Carlijn Kamp, our team lead impact and advocacy, explains our advocacy work.

Why is Triodos Bank active in the EU policy making arena? And what is Triodos Bank advocating for?

Carlijn Kamp, team lead impact and advocacy at Triodos Bank

Carlijn: ‘Triodos Bank wants to finance change and change finance. A large part of how we organise the financial system and how we want finance to support society is decided upon in the European Union. Rules for banks and investment products, but also for (sustainability) reporting and what kind of materials and products we want on the European market. So, if we want to change finance, we need to advocate at the place where rules and regulations are made.

What we want is a financial sector that is transparent, diverse and sustainable that makes money work for positive change. We believe that the financial sector is an essential part of society and that it should serve the real economy. It plays a crucial role in supporting the resilient, sustainable and equitable economy that we want.  

There are several ways how we advocate for change at the level of the European Union. We make concrete proposals when legislation is made or revised, for example our proposals to improve the Sustainable Finance Reporting Directive. We submit our own response on consultations, and we engage with policymakers and politicians. We also join forces with other businesses or organisations. For example, we urge the Belgian EU Presidency to deliver on the Nature Restoration Law, and call for a social investment framework to boost financing of social initiatives. ‘

What sets the advocacy of Triodos Bank apart?

‘When taking a stance or sharing our position, we want it to contribute towards a financial sector that is transparent, diverse and sustainable. Not just what would benefit Triodos Bank. We believe the long-term viability of the bank comes from a balance of added value to people, planet and prosperity. We put our energy in the subjects in which we are different than others in the financial sector and where we can bring our unique perspective as values-based bank and impact investor. It is of the upmost importance that policymakers get many different perspectives that represent different stakeholders and positions.’

What have we achieved so far? And what has failed?

‘The successes towards a more sustainable world is the work of many people and organisations that fight for different causes. That is also why we try to collaborate where possible and join forces with like-minded organisations and sometimes via more unexpected collaborations.

We have supported the introduction of longer-term assessments of risk in the banking rules. We have helped introduce financed emissions as part of the obligatory reporting requirements. We contributed with our experience as impact investor to the sustainable disclosure rules for investments products. More recently, we put a lot of energy in helping to get the Corporate Sustainability Due Dilligence Directive approved. We used our network to gain and share information on what reasons where blocking for the German government to vote in favour. So many individuals, groups and organisations were pushing the approval of this directive, that in the end, all their efforts (and ours) contributed to the success of it.

Our plea, together with many others, to include the financial sector in the Deforestation Regulation did not succeed, unfortunately. Nonetheless, it was agreed that the inclusion of the financial sector needs to be reassessed no later than two years after implementation. Furthermore, we were very disappointed that gas and nuclear were included in the Taxonomy, a dictionary for green investments. We will also continue advocating for more transparency on harmful finance. At this point, part of the legislation is made to combat greenwashing. This makes more sustainable financial or investment products more expensive.’

What is our wish and hope for the coming elections?

‘First of all, we hope that everyone will go and vote. The right to vote should never be taken for granted. We build the European Union and our democracy together, even if we don’t agree.

We are facing crises on a global level that only seem to deepen. From war, rising inequality, biodiversity to climate change. We need the EU more than ever to work together and accelerate the transitions we finance day after day, moving to a clean energy system, a nature-based food system and a just and thriving society for all. We hope that people will vote for parties that do justice to the rights of people and nature now and in the future and not just for the wealth of the few.’