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A Reference Point for Sustainable Banking

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. This led to ‘New Pathways – Building Blocks for a Sustainable Finance Future for Europe’, a report proposing a number of concrete steps to repurpose finance to better balance economic, social and environmental needs. The report was presented at key events and its content reused on several occasions during the year by decision making bodies in the finance industry.

The Triodos Business Awards, attracted 260 values-driven companies in 2017, and have become an important moment in the sustainable agenda in Spain. Triodos Bank marked a ‘Banking on Values’ day in Spain with multiple events in different locations where Triodos Bank has a commercial office. 1,300 people participated in 22 events to meet other customers and to get to know some of the projects financed with their money. The branch was more active in networking too, engaging with various organisations working on values, the human economy and sustainability. For example, Triodos Bank was one of 30 international organisations to participate in the New Economy and Social Innovation Forum (NESI), an international event, and the first of its kind in the world, in Malaga in the Spring. The event, which Triodos Bank also sponsored, brought together international representatives from the ‘New Economic Movements’ for the first time. In addition, the Spanish Managing Director was invited to discuss Triodos Bank’s impact investment approach during the Annual meeting of Spainsif, Spain’s social investment forum. And the branch collaborated in the Global Alliance for Banking on Values’ European chapter meeting at Barcelona in November, together with the Barcelona Town Hall.

The Belgian branch organised several events during the year. They included three seminars on how to diversify resources for cultural initiatives when public subsidies are reduced; a networking event exploring the social impact of foundations and a summer festival transformed Triodos Bank’s office in Ghent into a kindergarten to share inspiring examples of sustainable childcare.

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.

Triodos Bank innovated in the German market as the first bank in the country to launch a credit card which is not made using fossil-based resources.

Substantial media coverage about Triodos Bank in the UK during the year covered topics including the ‘myth’ of free banking and the potential democratic power of money. The branch was headline sponsor of the prestigious Festival of Economics in Bristol, feeding into discussions on the economic system and fairer finance.

A new 200 people-capacity event space opened during the year. ‘The Foundation’ is connected to Triodos Bank’s UK building and leased and run by the Triodos Foundation charity. It is offered to partners and charities at a discounted rate and all profits go to the Foundation. Since it opened there have been 66 events with over 1900 people attending. As well as diverse networking events throughout the year, the branch held its largest ever Annual Meeting in London, hosting 600 people.