This chapter at-a-glance
- Triodos Bank always reports financial and non-financial information in an integrated report because it is, and has always been, an integrated sustainable business itself
- Its annual report is available as a hard copy document and pdf in English, and in summary form in the languages of the countries where Triodos Bank operates. The English version is the legally leading document
- This unaudited content, plus much more, is also available online (www.annual-report-triodos.com)
- The report’s key content is derived from finding out what’s most important, or material, to Triodos Bank and its stakeholders
- Triodos Bank’s report challenges the ‘old world’ orthodoxy of focusing on financial targets to understand a bank’s performance
- Triodos Bank combines qualitative and quantitative evidence of its impact. It has its impact data verified to better understand, manage and report on its non-financial impact.
An integrated report
Triodos Bank’s annual report is integrated. That means it combines sustainability-related, or ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR), topics with everything else you would expect from a traditional annual report, such as key financial targets and performance information. As well as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and other frameworks (see below), Triodos Bank uses the International Integrated Reporting Council’s Integrated Reporting Framework as a reference for its report.
For Triodos Bank, integrating reporting doesn’t just mean reporting on how the organisation behaves as a responsible corporate citizen – by using renewable energy to power its buildings, for example, important as this is. It means reporting in-depth on the impact of its activity in the widest sense – from the greenhouse gas emissions of its loans and investments to a deeper understanding of the sustainability value of its work.
The annual report – on and offline
This annual report is produced as a hard copy document that’s available as a pdf and as an online annual report, in English, at www.annual-report-triodos.com.
The English offline report is Triodos Bank’s legally leading document. It is reproduced, in its entirety, in the online report. But the online report also includes much more information, such as films highlighting Triodos Bank’s qualitative impact during the year. A shorter and more focused off and online summary is also provided for stakeholders in Dutch, French, German and Spanish.
The report’s content is informed by what Triodos Bank’s stakeholders, and Triodos Bank itself, think are the most important, or material, issues to it.
Triodos Bank’s stakeholders, and how the bank interacts with them, are explored in more depth online and later in the Executive Board report. But, in short, they are:
- people and organisations that engage in economic transactions with Triodos Bank; for instance customers, depository receipt holders, co-workers and suppliers. Those that are predominantly connected to the social, cultural and environmental context Triodos Bank operates in, such as regulators, other institutions and associations in the financial sector, non-governmental organisations, governments, local communities and media. And advisors and inspirers who provide us with new insights, opportunities and knowledge.
Triodos Bank identifies its material topics through research and structured conversations with these groups. You can find these material topics in the materiality matrix.
Some of the material topics are also reflected in Triodos Bank’s strategic objectives where the organisation’s key priorities are described in detail, including progress against them. The organisation wants to help its stakeholders understand how well, or not, it is doing. So it aims to only use meaningful indicators that are genuinely relevant and provides context for what they really mean to the health of the business.
The report aims to provide a coherent thread throughout. Some material issues are explored further in the Executive Board report, including both financial and non-financial performance. Reports from Triodos Bank’s Supervisory Board and Board of SAAT reflect these topics and describe issues that were discussed with the Executive Board during the year. As a values-based, integrated bank, these topics often relate to sustainability and how it is integrated in the business’ strategy.
As well as its impact on society, the environment and culture via its external finance, the report includes information about the organisation’s environmental and co-worker responsibilities and developments during the year. Its financial performance is also described in detail in a financial accounts section.
Targets and benchmarks
Where targets provide important information linked to strategic goals, or where they are required by relevant external organisations, Triodos Bank reports against them. However, Triodos Bank is convinced that targets, particularly non-financial ones can, if not addressed properly, become an unhelpful end in themselves. They have a habit of driving the wrong kind of behaviour, often losing sight of their original goal. Triodos Bank often describes the philosophy behind its approach to targets as ‘hitting the target without missing the point’.
For that reason, while meaningful indicators are included, readers should expect to see limited ‘hard metrics’ in Triodos Bank’s annual report. Instead, Triodos Bank is developing ‘theories of change’ in its key sectors to help structure its impact-driven activity and deliver goals that reflect real needs in society. It supports these efforts with a tool – known as the Triodos Impact Prism – which helps understand, monitor, and equip the business to steer and report on impact in service of the goals described in these theories of change. Triodos Bank’s Impact Prism was developed during 2018, rolled out across Triodos Bank in 2019 and will continue to be refined and extended to Triodos Investment Management in the future.
Triodos Bank is also careful not to retrofit its reporting to meet the requirements of benchmarks or initiatives. It believes that meaningful sustainable developments that contribute to a fairer economy come from principle-based decision making and not from rule-based compliance and ‘box ticking’. By partnering with others, Triodos Bank hopes to co-create new reporting and disclosure approaches to better meet the needs of stakeholders and businesses within a more sustainable economy. From this perspective targets and benchmarks are only relevant in the context of a business’ wider purpose; one in which the needs of society, and operating responsibly within planetary limits, sit alongside financial sustainability concerns.
Triodos Bank has embraced the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a universal set of targets and indicators designed to help countries end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Its stakeholders have asked to position the organisation’s impact in a global framework. The SDGs allow the bank to do just that. Triodos Bank addresses the SDGs in three main ways:
- An appendix to this annual report maps how Triodos Bank’s activity relates to each of the 17 SDGs, using a three-tiered approach: describing baseline, direct and catalytic actions taken to meet the goals.
- Via SDG report at project and sector levels by mapping the results of the Triodos Impact Prism to the SDGs
- And via links connecting Triodos Bank’s activity to the SDGs throughout this report.
This year new indicators have been added as a result of collaborative work undertaken in The Netherlands to identify the most relevant metrics per SDG for the financial sector.
More specifically this report meets SDG 12 responsible consumption and production in relation to target 12.6 to “encourage companies…to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle”.
In addition, Triodos Bank is either a signatory to, or follows, the codes of conduct and (international) conventions below:
- Equator Principles
- Financial Action Task Force recommendations
- OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises
- UN Global Compact
- UN Principles for Responsible Investment
- UNEP Finance Initiative
- Wolfsberg Principles
- European SRI Transparancy Code
- International Finance Corporation Performance Standards and Health and Safety Guideline
- Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework.
Triodos Bank has had a fundamental commitment to respect human rights since its inception. Its business principles clearly state that it respects people, society and different cultures and it supports the goals of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Triodos Bank has published a detailed statement on human rights (triodos.com/humanrightsstatement).
By signing the Dutch Banking Sector Agreement on international responsible business conduct regarding human rights, Triodos Bank became part of a broad coalition of banks, trade unions, civil society organisations, the Dutch Banking Association and the Dutch government. By acting together these organisations can have a greater positive impact on the current situation regarding human rights. The agreement applies to project finance and corporate lending activities.
Triodos Bank is working towards reporting in line with, or equivalent to, the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework as part of this agreement. It has a Complaints Handling Policy which applies to all its activities, products and services. This policy, which addresses the rights and process to complain for customers, employees and third parties, is publicly accessible via www.triodos.com. Triodos Bank also started the process to identify where the most severe negative impacts on human rights are possible (known as salience).
Who does Triodos Bank partner with to improve its reporting?
In addition to the dialogue with stakeholders described above, this year’s report has been developed with the benefit of practitioner sessions with businesses, academics and experts in and outside the banking industry. In particular, Triodos Bank partners with specialists from sustainable banks in the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV).
During the year Triodos Bank has also consulted, among others, with the United Nations Environment Programme finance initiative (UNEP fi), the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) both globally and in The Netherlands; Global Reporting Initiative (GRI); a number of specialist consultants and initiatives; and PricewaterhouseCoopers Accountants N.V. in their role as independent auditor. Triodos Bank is grateful for their contributions and insights.
Triodos Bank and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
Triodos Bank has used the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) since 2001. GRI was established in 1997 by the United Nations and the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economics (CERES) to organise reporting on sustainability in a consistent manner and to make performance objective and comparison easier. Triodos Bank is an organisational stakeholder of GRI.
Triodos Bank was one of the first to use GRI’s Standards. The Standards aim to make reporting more relevant to the sustainability impact of an institution and to improve how they are presented for its stakeholders. This report has been prepared in accordance with the GRI Standards: Core option. Previously Triodos Bank reported using the Comprehensive option. These options do not relate to the quality of the information in the report or the magnitude of the organisation’s impacts. Instead, they reflect the degree to which the GRI Standards have been applied. Triodos Bank believes the core option better meets its reporting needs and the information needs of its stakeholders, focusing more closely on the issues and disclosures that are most relevant to both. You can find more, including an index of GRI disclosures, at www.annual-report-triodos.com.
During the review of the annual report, we have had several discussions with our auditor/ PwC to further improve our GRI index, for example regarding the link between material topics and the content of the annual report itself. Within this context we have made significant improvements in this annual report.
Impact measurement and reporting
The annual report aims to provide a clear and compelling picture of how Triodos Bank delivers long-term, sustainable change through its operations as a sustainable bank. In practice that means sharing qualitative information supported by relevant impact data. Almost uniquely among banks, this impact data is verified by an independent auditor to a limited assurance level. That’s because Triodos Bank believes financial and non-financial information should be treated in a similar way.
In recent years there has been growing attention on how organisations manage, measure and report on their non-financial impact. This is an important area for a mission-driven organisation that was created to use money to make positive social, environmental and cultural change happen.
Some facts and figures about the report
The 2019 annual report covers banking entities and business unit activities of Triodos Bank N.V. in The Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Spain and Germany, as represented in the Triodos Bank Group Structure. The report covers the period from 1 January to 31 December 2019. Triodos Bank’s previous integrated report was published in March 2019 and covered the 2018 calendar year.
The reporting on the 2019 financial year is based on the same principles as the 2018 report. Any changes in the methods of calculation used are explained in the text. While the financial accounts are audited to the level of reasonable assurance, the report includes limited assurance on the Executive Board chapter. This, which includes 2019 impact data including detailed greenhouse gas emissions data and measures included in the GABV’s scorecard, which is designed to deliver a structured approach to capture the vision, strategy and results of any bank relative to values-based banking. PricewaterhouseCoopers Accountants N.V. audits the financial statements.
Disclosures are required both to meet Dutch law and to comply with other regulation, in particular the Capital Requirements Regulation and the Capital Requirements Directive. Capital Requirements Regulation is direct regulation from the European Union. The Capital Requirements Directive has been translated by the Dutch Government into various laws and regulations that apply to Triodos Bank.
Triodos Bank complies with the EU Directive on the disclosure of non-financial and diversity information. The main part of these disclosures appears in this annual report. Additional required disclosures are published on our websites locally and on the corporate website: www.triodos.com and www.annual-report-triodos.com.