2006 Jury Citation
The Gold Medal Jury is pleased to award the 2006 WEC Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development to ABN AMRO Bank for its significant contribution to global sustainability.
ABN AMRO Bank is an international financial institution based in the Netherlands which provides financial services to clients worldwide. The Signature Contribution upon which the Jury based its award is the creation, adoption, and implementation of the “Equator Principles”, a set of voluntary guidelines and principles that addresses environmental and social risk in project financing.
ABN AMRO Bank has demonstrated global leadership despite the increasing social, environmental, and ethical challenges. By successfully integrating sustainability into their decision making processes, they are able to sustain and enhance human, natural, and financial capital needed in the future.
Project financing plays an important role in development throughout the world: particularly providing financing in the emerging markets in a socially responsible manner which reflects sound environmental management practices is essential.
ABN AMRO’s leadership in the creation of this international effort to include an evaluation of social and environmental issues in the decision making process in project financing is a bold and significant accomplishment.
Sustainable development is embedded in ABN AMRO Bank’s core business of delivering financial services and is guided by Corporate Values and Business Principles. Corporate Value includes the characteristics of integrity, teamwork, respect, and professionalism. Business Principles are oriented to the wide spectrum of stakeholders and state that ABN AMRO Bank assesses business partners on their standards and is open and accountable with respect to its actions.
To integrate sustainable development ABN AMRO Bank incorporates five guiding concepts: being accountable and transparent, integrating environmental, social, and ethical considerations, delivering sustainable products and services, being a great place to work, and supporting local communities, and minimizing operational impact.
In 2004, ABN AMRO Bank became a signatory of the UN Global Compact which shares close parallels to the ABN AMRO Bank Business Principles. Sustainability efforts have become especially transparent since 2003, with the externally audited Global Sustainability Report published in accordance with the GRI guidelines.
As a capital provider for major infrastructure and corporate projects ABN AMRO Bank acts responsibly and prudently to engage responsible clients. Policies to achieve that goal have been formulated in close consultation with well respected NGO’s. The comprehensive set of policies cover a wide array of sectors including Defense, Forestry, Tobacco, Mining, Oil and Gas, Human Rights, Social and Ethical Country Risks, and Equator Principles.
Project financing is not restricted to large projects. Two new microfinance initiatives were created in India and Brazil. In India, ABN AMRO Bank has established alliances with local micro-financing institutions that allows leveraging of mutual competencies. Brazil’s micro-finance program with a total portfolio of EUR 1,1 million is designed to benefit low income earners in conjunction with creating jobs and socio-economic development of the local communities. The total portfolio in micro-credit in 2004 reached more than EUR 5 million.
ABN AMRO Bank is active in the Carbon Markets recently arranging the world’s first Bank intermediated carbon credit trade between two private-sector organizations in Australia.
ABN AMRO Bank’s direct environmental concerns have not been neglected. Programs have been undertaken to implement environmentally friendly programs within the Bank. The Kill-a-Watt campaign was fashioned to encourage behavioral change resulting in an average energy reduction of 15%. To ensure broad awareness of sustainable development, leadership courses and elearning tools and resources are made available for integration into daily work assignments.
ABN AMRO Bank has demonstrated international leadership in sustainable development. Their approach to integrate sustainability in daily operations is recognized by globally respected rating agencies and sustainability indices such as Dow Jones Sustainability Index, FTSE4, World 100, and Innovest Strategic Value Advisors. They have been ranked highly for transparent sustainability, noted as the Corporate Social Responsible Bank of the Year and received a Sustainable Leadership Award from CoreNet.
A recent independent benchmark report using a set of 20 peers in the financial sector demonstrated ABN AMRO Bank’s leadership position regarding sustainable development related issues. Follow-up strategic discussions have been initiated to establish even higher standards.
ABN AMRO Bank affects positively the communities and societies in which they operate. By supporting the communities in which they operate, ABN AMRO Bank contributes to socially stable, culturally rich and ecological sustainable living conditions.
The Signature Project “The Equator Principles” is an important standard for assessing and managing project financing. In 2002, ABN AMRO Bank together with the IFC convened a meeting of commercial Banks to discuss environmental and social issues in project finance. As a result The Equator Principles was born. Starting with 4 founders, today 37 financial institutions worldwide have adopted the Principles, representing more than 80% of total project finance (93 bln USD in 2004). Based on policies and standards set by the IFC, the guidelines encompass a wide range of sustainability issues: renewable natural resources, protection of human health, cultural properties, and biodiversity and impact on indigenous people and their communities. Financial institutions adopting the Principles must take into account social and environmental impacts—they must be responsible for the actions of their clients.
Sustainable development is embedded in ABN AMRO Bank’s core business of delivering financial services. Their leadership role in establishing and implementing the Equator Principles, which is fast becoming the reference standard for financial institutions to ensure that responsible environmental stewardship and socially responsible development is included in project finance decision making, is commendable. As a capital provider, ABN AMRO Bank can wield great influence in the emerging economies, and can exert a profound improvement in sustainable development. The Jury is honored to designate ABN AMRO Bank for the 2006 WEC Gold Medal Award for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development.