Triodos Bank’s Executive Board provides a perspective on the wider world it operates in, its impact and activity in 2017 and its prospects for the future.
The Impact of Finance from Triodos Bank
We understand impact finance to be transformational. We define it as directing money so that it benefits people and the environment over the long-term. And we try to deliver as much positive impact as possible by only financing and investing in sustainable enterprises and enterprises transitioning to sustainable approaches. As a consequence of this work Triodos Bank provides fair financial and non-financial returns to its stakeholders.
Our vision on impact stems from this understanding and reflects our mission. In practice that means we try and find qualitative evidence of the impact first and foremost and back it up with numbers when it’s relevant to do so.
Impact data provides a richer picture for our stakeholders about the work we do. We want to demonstrate Triodos Bank’s grounding in financing the real economy. Verifiable, relevant information helps us to do that. For that reason every year the business spends considerable time and energy producing impact data that’s reviewed by an independent auditor.
We have built on this grounding during 2017 to create the prototype of an impact management tool. We intend to use it to allow us to understand, monitor and steer on impact in a more deliberate way. And we plan to test this prototype across the business during 2018 and share our progress in next year’s annual report.
We aim to be a leader in impact-driven reporting in the financial industry. Our focus is on managing impact in ways that improve people’s quality of life and on communicating this impact to our stakeholders. In 2017 we began a long-term project to manage impact even more proactively in the business and further improve how we report and communicate this impact.
The Platform for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) was launched at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015 and delivered a final report two years later at the Paris Climate Summit of 2017 and is described in more detail earlier in the Executive Board chapter. The platform, which is made up of a number of Dutch financial institutions, has developed a common, open source methodology to account for the carbon footprint of financial institution’s loans and investments. Triodos Bank plans to start implementing the methodology and will continue to collaborate with the PCAF partners, in 2018.
Triodos Bank also sponsored and participated in a pilot with a number of partners to create a True Cost Dashboard for Finance, Food and Farming during 2017. A report, launched during the year, describes the real costs of a food business so investors and other stakeholders can make informed decisions based on the real cost of a particular business. Triodos Bank will continue to work with its partners in 2018 to see if the findings can be applied in the business.
Triodos Investment Management further developed a project during the year to manage and communicate its impact and that of its investments more effectively. It updated an inclusive finance impact report, first published in 2016, and added an impact report for the organic growth fund during the year.
Triodos Bank has worked actively with partners in the GABV to develop a sustainable banking scorecard, which aims to show stakeholders how sustainable a bank is. To date, Triodos is the only bank to publish the scorecard in full. A plan to publish a number of GABV member bank scorecards on a shared website to enable better learning inside the member banks and opportunities to deepen an understanding of these sustainable banks' impact for stakeholders outside them, has been postponed to 2018.
The impact data included in the Executive Board chapter is in scope of the review procedures performed by the independent external auditor. Doing so is a logical extension of the auditing of our financial figures, as an integrated business that has sustainability at the core of its financial activity.
The impact data, which is reported by all branches and Triodos Investment Management where possible, is based on a number of assumptions explained in detail in the impact chapter in the online annual report. In general the full impact of a project is counted when Triodos Bank has financed or co-financed it.
When there is some uncertainty about an impact figure relating to a project, we take a conservative approach to estimates including, on occasion, excluding figures altogether.
The online impact chapter provides more detail on the impact of Triodos Bank and its finance, including case studies and the methodology used to produce the impact data reported.
Impact by Sector
Triodos Bank and its investment funds, offered via Triodos Investment Management, finance and co-finance enterprises that augment the use of renewable resources in particular and supports projects that reduce the demand for energy and promote energy efficiency.
Triodos Bank describes and independently verifies the contribution it makes to the avoided carbon emissions that result from these energy projects. We are transparent about this approach in the annual report because we think it’s important that our stakeholders understand the approach we take to these disclosures.
To date we have reported the avoided emissions of a total project. In technical jargon, we take a contribution rather than an attribution approach. With multiple loans and investments, and different types of renewable energy technologies and geographies, a contribution approach has been both practical and, we believe, reasonable. As part of an effort to continually improve our impact reporting we intend to include an attribution analysis in the future. This means that we will calculate the avoided emissions as they relate to the proportion of our finance in a project. It’s important to note that an attribution approach leads to lower carbon emissions figures than a contribution approach. That is because a contribution approach accounts for all of the emissions from a project rather than a proportion of them.
We have participated, since the Paris Climate Summit in 2015, in the Platform Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) which has stipulated a new framework methodology to account for the carbon footprint of loans and investments and we plan to start implementing this attribution approach during 2018. This will give stakeholders a clearer picture of the climate impact that results from our finance.
By the end of 2017, Triodos Bank and its climate and energy investment funds were financing 472 projects in the energy sector: including Triodos Bank's first grid connection project, 37 energy efficiency projects, 25 sustainable power projects in a construction phase and another 410 sustainable power projects (2016: 381) with a total generating capacity of 3,100 MW (2016: 2,400 MW), producing the equivalent of the electricity needs of 1.4 million European households (2016: 1.2 million). Together these projects contributed to the avoidance of over 2.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions (2016: 1.7 million tonnes).
These projects include about 200 windpower projects, 200 solar photovoltaic projects, and 36 hydro projects. The rest include biomass, heat and cold storage and a diverse range of energy efficiency initiatives.
Organic farming and nature development
The organically managed land on the farms which Triodos Bank and Triodos Investment Management financed in 2017 could produce the equivalent of 30 million meals in 2017, or enough food to provide a sustainable diet for approximately 27,000 people (2016: 29,000). Together they financed approximately 32,000 hectares of organic farmland across Europe. This means one football-pitch sized piece of farmland for every 13 customers, each one producing enough for 550 meals per year.
We also financed 31,000 hectares of nature and conservation land (2016: 28,000 hectares), representing around 450m2 of nature and conservation land per customer.
Over 146,000 smallholder farmers in 17 emerging market countries worldwide were paid directly and fairly upon delivery of their harvest in 2017, as a result of the trade finance that Triodos Sustainable Trade Fund provides to farmers’ cooperatives and agribusiness. In 2017 the clients of the fund had 60,000 hectares of certified organic farmland under cultivation. An additional 17,000 hectares was in conversion – an important number because it takes time before conventional farmland is ready to be certified organic.
Sustainable property and private sustainable mortgages
As well as offering green mortgages that incentivise households to reduce their carbon footprint, Triodos Bank and Triodos Investment Management finance new building developments and renovation projects for properties to reach high sustainability standards.
In 2017 Triodos Bank and Triodos Investment Management financed directly, and via sustainable property, approximately 10,600 homes and apartments (2016: 7,200) and about 540 commercial properties (2016: 310) comprising approximately 540,000m2 for office and other commercial space (2016: 460,000m2). Triodos Bank also financed about 18,000m2 of buildings and brownfield sites (2016: 27,000m2).
As a result of its finance across Europe around 53,000 individuals (2016: 35,000) were residents of facilities at 558 elderly care homes financed by Triodos Bank and Triodos Investment Management in 2017, representing the equivalent of 28 days of care per Triodos Bank customer.
Community projects and social housing
In 2017 Triodos Bank and Triodos Investment Management financed 490 community projects (2016: 437), and 170 social housing projects, which directly and indirectly provide accommodation for approximately 94,000 people (2016: 67,000).
Triodos Investment Management’s specialised emerging markets funds provided finance to 107 financial institutions working for inclusive finance in 44 countries (2016: 44). These organisations reached approximately 15.1 million individuals saving for their future (2016: 13.7 million) and 20.3 million customers borrowing for a better quality of life (2016: 20.2 million). Of these loan clients, 78% were female. Women are often in disadvantaged positions in many developing countries. Giving women the freedom to manage their income and to provide for their families empowers their position.
Arts and culture
During 2017 Triodos
Bank finance helped
make it possible for
17.6 million visitors to
enjoy cultural events.
During 2017 Triodos Bank and Triodos Investment Management helped make it possible for 17.6 million visitors (2016: 13.7 million) to enjoy cultural events including cinemas, theatres and museums across Europe, as a result of its lending and investments activity to cultural institutions. This means that there were the equivalent of 26 cultural experiences per Triodos Bank customer.
Triodos Bank and Triodos Investment Management finance helped approximately 3,400 artists and creative companies active in the cultural sector (2016: 3,100). Theatre, music and dance productions from creative companies were attended by 450,000 people. New productions in 2017 from the film and media sector financed by Triodos Bank (most importantly in Spain) were seen by approximately 9.0 million people (2016: 9.7 million).
Triodos Bank and Triodos Investment Management also financed a number of organisations providing affordable spaces for cultural activities such as workshops and music courses, attracting around 97,000 people (2016: 90,000).
Approximately 650,000 individuals benefited from the work of 455 education initiatives financed by Triodos Bank in 2017 (2016: 2.0 million). This decline was partly due to the repayment of a loan for a digital education initiative in Belgium. For every Triodos Bank customer, the equivalent of 1 person was able to learn and grow because of education provided by an establishment we financed.