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ASN Bank provokes green finance transition

GOAL & TARGET
ASN Bank is exploring a quantitative goal for its impact on biodiversity, which is based on what is necessary. The open-source and bottom-up collaboration can be a game-changer in finance.
ASN Bank provokes green finance transition
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As a small bank, ASN Bank is not afraid to be an initiator. The aspiring green finance accelerator believes that biodiversity is the basis for our well-being. With the ambition to keep the climate change under 2 degrees, CoP FINC initiator invested EUR 13 bn for human rights, climate change and biodiversity.

Being one of the two initiators of CoP FiNC, ASN Bank is convinced that biodiversity is the basis for our well-being from an economic, social and political point of view. Alongside human rights and climate change, biodiversity is one of the three main topics of its sustainability policy for its total investment or EUR 13bn (2015). Starting with the ambition to be climate neutral with all of its investments by 2030, it is now exploring a quantitative goal for its impact on biodiversity. By doing so, ASN Bank aspires to be an accelerator for the sustainable transition in finance.

Climate goal needs collaboration

Jeroen Loots, Climate and Biodiversity Advisor at ASN Bank: “In the previous Community of Practice on Business & Biodiversity, we learned from carpet producer interface about the power of setting a quantitative goal. Since then we have been working on the ambition to become climate neutral with all of our investments by 2030. The ambition is based on what is necessary to keep climate change under 2 degrees, not on what is possible. We want to work in an open-source way, in collaboration with other FIs in developing a method and standard for carbon accounting. In 2015 ASN Bank initiated the Dutch Platform Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) together with a group of 11 leading Dutch financial organisations at the Climate Summit in Paris. In this document, we called on negotiators to pay due regard to the role that investors and financial institutions can play in the achievement of climate change objectives.

A quantitative goal for biodiversity

Irene de Jong, former Climate and Biodiversity Advisor: “In CoP FiNC we started the quest on how to truly include biodiversity in all aspects of our financial business, including the impact of investments. Many questions were discussed with a group of experts like: How to formulate the goal? As a bank, is it even possible to determine the impact of our investments on biodiversity, on the basis of scientific data? How do you calculate and describe this impact? What can we do to reach our goal? We asked for help from consultants CREM and PRé and with the ReCiPe method, they calculated the impact of the ASN Bank: 7000 square kilometres of nature disappear annually, which is the size of the provinces North-Holland and South-Holland combined. The asset with the largest impact was government loans, accounting for 4000 square kilometres of biodiversity loss. This is only a first indication and probably on the high side; the method is not perfect yet and needs fine-tuning in collaboration with other FIs and a broader range of stakeholders. We are working to set a long-term goal on biodiversity like we did with climate. A no-net loss goal for 2030 with all our investments could be an ambition. Actions like actively investing in nature and engaging on biodiversity impact with investees with a high impact are part of the way forward. The quest for a rightly formulated goal and a clear path has just started, but we made important steps and there is a shared enthusiasm and enough trust to proceed.”

The CoP was an excellent opportunity and practical platform to inspire and team up with finance colleagues towards a sustainable society.

 

Game-changer in finance

Piet Sprengers, Head Sustainability: “In the meantime, our parent company De Volksbank (former SNS Bank N.V.) is following up with us in setting quantitative sustainability goals, so the question is: How can we still be distinctive? We want to inspire and engage other FIs to set long-term goals. To stop climate change and loss of biodiversity, we need to be open-source and create bottom-up collaboration processes with all relevant stakeholders. We believe that, even though we are a small bank, it is possible to accelerate change as a pioneer. The CoP was a driving force for us. A place where we could reflect and learn from other FIs and facilitated by professional and neutral transition managers.”

ASN Bank was one of the frontrunners that formed the Community of Practice of Financial Institutions and Natural Capital (CoP FINC), which aimed to accelerate the transition to sustainable finance. This solution is part of a larger series of best practices that resulted from this CoP.

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Caroline van Leenders

senior poly advisor

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