Shutterstock / Olga Kashubin / WWF

Green financing

There are hundreds of billions of euros are in circulation in our economy, money that comes from banks, insurers and pension funds. What if financial institutions invested all that money in a more sustainable and greener way?

What is going on?

The financial sector could play a key role in nature conservation and restoration. Our savings and pension money, working capital and the national treasury are managed by banks and asset managers; they decide, by investing and lending money, which companies and projects should be supported.

Those investments potentially have major consequences: they can cause more nature loss or ensure nature conservation. In other words, the financial sector can influence our progress towards a green world.

A win-win situation

Green investing is a win-win situation. De Nederlandse Bank and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency have calculated that Dutch financial institutions have 500 billion euros in outstanding loans to companies that are highly dependent on nature.

The increasing loss of nature means an increasing risk of production loss for companies. 'Greener' investments are therefore not only good for the planet, but also have a major effect on the returns of banks, pension funds and insurers.

The road to a nature-positive economy

Dependent on nature

The Dutch economy is not alone in being heavily dependent on nature, the same applies to half of the global economy to a sum of 44 trillion dollars, according to research by the World Economic Forum.

But there are also opportunities. Food, infrastructure and energy are the three industries responsible for almost eighty percent of nature loss worldwide. Altering the way we invest in those industries will create 400 million jobs and $10 trillion in business opportunities.

Shutterstock / isak55 / WWF

What is WWF doing about it?

The more green investments, the better. We call it 'nature-positive financing': loans and investments that are good for biodiversity, nature and the climate.

WWF has two way of working towards an economy that is in harmony with nature:

  • 1

    Vergroening financiële sector

    Door de werkwijze van de financiële sector te vergroenen. We geven inzicht in de risico’s die instellingen lopen wanneer ze investeren in praktijken die voor verlies van biodiversiteit zorgen.

  • 2

    Vergroening investeringen

    We koppelen financiële instellingen aan groene projecten, ontwikkeld door WWF en lokale bedrijven in natuurrijke gebieden. Zo kan op een duurzame manier geïnvesteerd worden.

Revealing financial risks

WWF assesses how companies depend on nature, what impact their activities is on biodiversity, where both the risks and the opportunities are for the asset managers. Our Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) sheds more light on these matters.

It is a framework that provides insights, knowledge and guidelines. WWF also enters into partnerships with financial institutions such as Rabobank and Robeco so we can make the sector more sustainable from within, forming a broader coalition of companies that contribute to more nature. In this process, we always remain honest, sharp and critical. We want a greener, sustainable world, as soon as possible and that is always paramount in all our advice.

Green investment projects

WWF also helps financial institutions invest in green projects and organisations worldwide with the help of funds like the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (DFCD), a fund focusing on climate adaptation and nature restoration projects in developing countries. This strategy helps the most vulnerable communities and ecosystems become more resilient to the consequences of climate change.

The fund already has 160 million euros thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We want to find another half billion from private capital for various projects, such as projects for protecting against deforestation and ensuring clean (drinking) water.

We also participate in Mobilising More for Climate, a programme in which we work together with local companies and organisations on projects with a positive impact on people and nature in countries like Cameroon, Ghana, Indonesia, Mozambique and Uganda.

Examples of projects

How can you help?

Ask your bank or pension fund about the green options they offer. You do not always need to change banks. Our aim is to have as many people and companies as possible switch to a nature-inclusive economy.

The more customers ask for green alternatives, the more important it becomes for the bank or insurer to get started.

More and more financial institutions recognize the importance of biodiversity and nature restoration, and that is reflected in their products. For example, Robeco has set up a biodiversity fund for business clients, which means your money, too, can contribute to a sustainable world.

Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK

What have we achieved so far?

Making the financial sector greener:

  • Robeco has set up a biodiversity fund for business clients, which enables them to invest in companies that demonstrably have a positive impact on biodiversity. WWF-NL provided input for Robeco's roadmap for Biodiversity and Robeco receives advice and assistance in developing investment strategies for biodiversity.
  • WWF and Rabobank together drew up sustainability criteria Chile's largest salmon producer must comply with before the company could be granted a $100 million loan. 
  • To measure the impact and performance of farmers on the restoration of biodiversity, Rabobank and WWF have developed a biodiversity monitor. We focus on goals rather than on measures, so that entrepreneurs still have the freedom to do what works for them.

Alliances made:

  • WWF worked with the Dutch Banking Association (NVB), Rabobank and Deloitte to develop the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures, a framework created for, and by, the business community, in which 40 senior executives have laid down how best to incorporate more nature into daily decision-making.
  • The Finance for Biodiversity Pledge is an international alliance of financial institutions. At the end of 2020, they made a pledge to make the protection and restoration of biodiversity a main priority of their operations. Dutch institutions are taking the lead in this matter, but already 126 institutions worldwide have joined and jointly they manage $19 trillion.

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