As well as deliver the benefits of sustainable banking directly through its finance, Triodos Bank promotes the idea that money can be used consciously through the banking system as a positive force for good, directly contributing to its strategic goal to act as a reference point for banking. This ‘thought leadership’ role is one its stakeholders value very highly, was discussed in structured stakeholder engagement activity during the year and remains a key strategic objective of the organisation.
During the year, Triodos Bank collaborated with other values-based banks, civil society organisations and academia to develop and promote ideas for the necessary conditions to shape sustainable finance in the future.
In Spain, over 200 engaged clients came together in Barcelona to discuss the subject of changing finance. A conversation between Kees Vendrik, Triodos Bank Chief Economist and Marcos Eguiguren, executive director of the GABV (Global Alliance for Banking on Values), opened the conference, followed by interviews and conversations between customers and organisations working for a human-centered economy.
Leveraging its network of commercial offices, Spain hosted 22 gatherings around the country. With 550 attendees overall, the topics of debate included: solutions for a healthy and sustainable home, social farming initiatives, inclusive values-based education and the role of the movie industry in social cohesion.
In the second half of the year Triodos Bank Spain set up a ‘reduce your emissions’ platform, which enables citizens and organisations to reduce their carbon footprint by buying renewable energy, via installations designed for self-consumption or through carbon offsetting measures. The platform goes beyond purely banking activity to contribute to the low carbon economy championed by global initiatives such as the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Belgian branch organised several events during the year. Events hosted local professors and researchers from both French and Dutch speaking Belgian universities as well as visiting luminaries including British economist Kate Raworth, to challenge the language and framing in which economics is discussed. The celebration of the Belgian branch’s 25th anniversary prompted the production of a testimonial video highlighting the vision of different stakeholders and reflections from managing directors on the evolution of the Belgian branch. It was also the reason for an extended stakeholders’ session to discuss sustainability dilemmas in lending and investments projects that are part of Triodos Bank’s daily business of Triodos.
Importantly, Triodos Bank actively supports developments in local complementary currencies. In Belgium it is investigating the potential for complementary currencies as part of a more diverse financial ecosystem through its participation in Muntuit vzw. While in The Netherlands Triodos Bank participated in a circular sustainable entrepreneurs’ network, the United Economy, who trade between themselves using their own alternative currency, or Uniteds.
During the year the Dutch branch acted as a catalyst for the sustainable business community through various events including ‘Heart Head’ Awards for sustainable business, De Groene Zaak (The Green Cause) the country’s leading sustainable business association. It also ran ‘buy the change’ a consumer campaign connecting conscious consumers and sustainable entrepreneurs.
As part of efforts to push the whole financial sector in Germany in a more sustainable direction, Triodos Bank initiated an open letter on sustainable finance to European and German politicians. The letter was signed by several financial institutions and NGOs and aimed to influence the sustainable finance initiative of the European Commission and Parliament.
The UK branch was headline sponsor of the Festival of Economics, with Triodos Bank’s Chief Economist Kees Vendrik featuring as a speaker. Support was provided to the launch of the Thriving Places Index, a groundbreaking new system measuring true prosperity as a progressive alternative to the more simplistic measure of Gross Domestic Product. And 92 events for the local community took place in ‘The Foundation’ event space connected to the Triodos UK building, hosting more than 3,500 people.