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Sustainable Banking: Investing in Growth that has no Limits

Just recently the famous Nasdaq board in Times Square, New York, read:

“More happiness. Less greed. Less selfishness. More truth. More equality. Less poverty.”

Now the immediate assumption that many would reach to explain this rather anti-capitalist message, may be, as MNN.com suggested, that it is a “provocation by hactivist group Anonymous, or an ad for a nonprofit campaigning against the excesses of capitalism.”

It might then, be a surprise to know that it was actually an advert for a bank.

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Triodos Bank
Commercial for Triodos Bank in Time Sqaure. (PositiveNews)

Triodos Bank is an ethical bank based in the Netherlands, but has branches in the UK, Spain, Belgium, and Germany, and is currently opening one in France. It only finances businesses, not-for-profit organisations, and social enterprises that generate a positive effect on the environment, of society. The investments may be for any area of the economy including green building projects, renewable energy installations, organic farms, and social housing developments.

James Vaccaro, the head of market and corporate development at Triodos, spoke to Sami Grover of MNN about the banks philosophy and operations. He explained that many people associate banks with greed, and a desire to grow at all costs, and that this growth is in turn draining the planets resources and therefore negative; but not all growth is bad.

“There are many types of growth that are unlikely to hit a limiting crisis point. Can our civilization really become 'too educated,' or have 'too much joy'? Really, we want to pursue the same kind of growth we see in nature — a growth based on abundance, cooperation, interdependence and sustainability.

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When we started out, wind and solar were still referred to as 'alternative energy'. Now they’re just energy. Investments in renewables now outstrip investments in what should be called 'finite' energy. We’re seeing reports from organizations like the IMF and PWC suggesting we could go 100 percent renewable in many parts of the world using existing technologies. And that’s just one example of how the sectors we work with are moving from the 'alternative' and into the mainstream.”

Since its foundation in 1980, Triodos has experienced strong growth, boasting 400,000 customers, although naturally it doesn’t measure its success in such a traditional manner as commercial success. Instead in its 2012 financial report it is proud to have helped finance 246 energy and climate projects that have a generating capacity of 2,038 megawatts; issue loans to organic farms that provide around 18 million meals; and to have invested in museums and theatres that attracted more than 5.7 million visitors over the year.

By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com


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