Triodos Bank’s Executive Board provides a perspective on the wider world it operates in, its impact and activity in 2017 and its prospects for the future.
About This Report
In a nutshell
- Triodos Bank always reported 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 audited, legally leading document
- This 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 verifies its impact data and intends to improve how it understands, manages and reports on its non-financial impact in the future.
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, through the impact of its loans and investments in particular. A growing number of integrated reports suggests more businesses consider their impact on society and the environment as core to their activities.
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, audited document. It is reproduced, in its entirety, in the online report. But the online report also includes much more information, such as a film with the CEO and an in-depth impact chapter.
This year Triodos Bank has chosen not to create the on and offline report, in its entirety, in all languages. Instead, in addition to the full report in English, a shorter and more focused off and online summary is provided for stakeholders in Dutch, French, German and Spanish. This is part of an effort to produce the report in a more efficient way without compromising its quality.
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 on page 19: But, in short, they are:
- Those that engage in economic transactions with the business
- Those that do not engage in direct economic exchange with the business, but have a close interest in it
- Those that provide new insights, opportunities and knowledge.
Triodos Bank identifies its material issues through research and structured conversations with these groups. You can find these material issues on page 21.
The material issues are reflected in Triodos Bank’s strategic objectives, on page 23. 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. Issues described in the materiality analysis are explored further in the Executive Board Report, including both financial and non-financial performance. Reports from Triodos Bank’s governing Boards reflect these topics and describe issues of particular attention 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
Triodos Bank is convinced that targets, particularly non-financial ones, can become an unhelpful end in themselves. They have a habit of driving the wrong kind of behaviour often losing sight of their original goal. For that reason, while meaningful indicators are included, readers should expect to see limited ‘hard metrics’ in Triodos Bank’s annual report.
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 new, growth-agnostic and 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 (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. Links connecting Triodos Bank’s activity to the SDGs are made throughout the report as a result. It expects to build on these further in the future. These links are informed by the work of the GRI and United Nations Global Compact’s Corporate Action Group, in which Triodos Bank participates; and, in particular, their ‘An Analysis of the Goals and Targets’ report. At this stage Triodos Bank has not always linked SDG targets with specific indicators. While it is important that ultimately businesses do report with comparable indicators, that is not always possible and we are working with others to determine the best indicators to disclose.
This report, for example, 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 conducts and (international) conventions below:
- Equator Principles
- Financial Action Task Force recommendations
- Green Bonds Principles
- OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises
- UN Global Compact
- UN Principles for Responsible Investment
- UNEP Finance Initiative
- Wolfsberg Principles
Triodos Bank is also working towards reporting in line with, or equivalent to, the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework as part of the Dutch Banking Sector Agreement on international responsible business conduct regarding human rights.
As a values-based bank whose mission is to help create a society that promotes people’s quality of life and has human dignity at its core, Triodos Bank has had a strong commitment to human rights since its inception. Our business principles make a specific commitment to respect human rights: ‘We respect people, society and different cultures and support the aims of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights’. For more, please visit www.triodos.com/humanrights.
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 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 with the United Nations Environment Programme finance initiative (UNEP fi), the Dutch Transparency Benchmark, The Bertelsmann’s Foundation, the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Fair Finance Guide, PricewaterhouseCoopers Accountants N.V. and a number of specialist consultants and initiatives. We are 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 succeed G4 guidelines and 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: Comprehensive option. You can find more, including an index of GRI disclosures, at www.annual-report-triodos.com.
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 auditor. 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, of course, an important area for a mission-driven organisation that was created to use money to make positive social, environmental and cultural change happen.
In the coming years Triodos Bank is actively working to significantly improve how it manages for impact, so that it better understands the difference it is making and so it can learn from and report more effectively to its stakeholders. Readers should expect to see evidence of this in future reports.
Some facts and figures about the report
The 2017 Annual Report covers branch and business unit activities of Triodos Bank NV 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 2017. Triodos Bank’s previous integrated report was published in March 2017 and covered the 2016 calendar year.
The reporting in the 2017 financial year is based on the same principles as the 2016 report. Any changes in the methods of calculation used are explained in the text. The report includes limited assurance on the Management Board report, which includes 2017 impact data. PricewaterhouseCoopers Accountants N.V. audit 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.