Sustainable Investment and Financing
Dutch financial sector has developed a leading role in sustainability
Building on a longstanding tradition in trade and finance, going back to the 17th century, the Netherlands is developed into the home base of a variety of leading financial institutions, e.g. in banking, insurance, retirement management and asset management. In an open, internationally oriented culture with a stable social and political climate, and with a clear view on human and environmental aspects of doing business, the Dutch financial sector has developed a leading role in sustainability.
Historical long term focus
Compared to the Anglo-Saxon tradition, the Dutch investment approach aims for long term results, having made pension funds like ABP and PGGM natural early adopters and leaders in the area of sustainable (ESG based) investments, e.g. instantly supporting the launch of the Principles for Responsible lnvestment. The large Dutch Banks also have developed an extensive sustainability expertise, driving global initiatives like the Equator Principles and developing business practices that in many cases are regarded as the international standard (carbon trading, microfinance). And smaller, specialist players like Triodos bank have developed sustainable banking into a unique offering for their clients.
International cluster of sustainability
Being an open culture, one of the characteristics of the Dutch economy and society, its ability is to develop and maintain highly effective international networks. This is illustrated by active participation in a large number of international organisations, hosting head offices of some of these institutions and an above UN-norm annual contribution to international aid. Providing a local scale with a strong international connection, the Netherlands are uniquely positioned to leverage its geographical and political position, knowledge-base and social and economic structure into a global centre of expertise bringing together sustainability expertise, business and financial interests. This is supported by a number of international NGOs and institutions who have chosen the Netherlands for their headquarters (GRI, TBLI, etc).
International orientation, entrepreneurial spirit and responsible acting are distinguishing factors in the way Dutch companies operate, which is illustrated by the exceptionally strong ratings of Dutch companies in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In a longstanding tradition of connecting business practice with academic research, the Netherlands has strongly developed partnership between companies and universities. Innovation and sustainability are focal themes for universities. Specialised expertise is developed in close cooperation with professional services providers like the leading auditors, lawyers, research agencies (TNO, ECN) and consultants who have established their main offices in the Netherlands.
Future offers opportunities
The growing long term trends have been well recognized in the Netherlands: Scarcity of natural resources, growth of world population and the unequal distribution of global wealth, the increasing role of international NGOs and the (increasingly swift) spread of information. The awareness and demands of individuals, globalization and the increasing role of companies, the pressure on companys transparency and accountability: they all represent huge challenges as well as opportunities. Facing the challenge, dealing with it, turning it into an opportunity and grasping the opportunity: that is a unique role Dutch financial institutions are playing in the world.