Six steps since signing the Dutch Banking Agreement on Human Rights

06 December 2017 ... min read

6 December 2017

What’s happened at ING since we signed the Dutch Banking Agreement (DBA) on Human Rights last October? Here’s an overview.

1. Last December, we set the governance structure to facilitate group-wide implementation of the DBA by establishing an internal working group with a Steering Committee. This is comprised of the directors of all relevant departments, including client-facing functions, lending and risk management.

2. In May, ING’s Statement on Human Rights was updated, clearly outlining our responsibility as an employer, procurer of goods and services from suppliers, and provider of financial services to clients. Our updated statement makes explicit reference to the fact that we are guided in our business conduct by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

In June, ING’s Statement on Human Rights was further strengthened with a statement on complying with the UK Modern Slavery Act. Read more.

3. In the first quarter of 2017, we conducted an analysis to understand the (potential) gaps in our own performance compared to the requirements set under the DBA. This gap analysis has been translated into an action plan, which is currently being carried out.

This action plan has three pillars:

  • Working first to identify ING’s most severe human rights risks, including our lending portfolio. We consider the impacts in our clients’ own operations as well as in their entire value chain.
  • Living up to the various underlying commitments of the Agreement, such as the disclosure of our loan book per sector.
  • Defining a format and way of reporting on our bank-wide human rights performance.

4. We’ve already taken some steps on this action plan.

  • In the second quarter, we worked with a highly regarded human rights consultancy to identify the most severe human rights risks in our lending portfolio. We learned that most of the human risks had already been identified under our existing environmental and social risk (ESR) framework. Examples include impacts on cultural heritage, impacts on indigenous peoples, large-scale resettlement, child employment or forced labour, and risk of conflict.

  • In the third quarter, in line with the DBA requirement for transparency on banks’ loan portfolios, we published a detailed breakdown of our entire portfolio of approximately EUR 775 bln. Read more.

5. In July, ING adopted a non-financial risk assessment process for our own business conduct, screening our global operations on potential human rights issues to ensure the safety of our employees worldwide.

6. We also continued to drive our existing human rights agenda and promote and leverage our work in the DBA through the various external memberships and committees we participate in. Examples of our achievements on the wider human rights agenda are:

  • On 30 May 2017, ABN AMRO, ING and NIBC presented the Responsible Ship Recycling Standards (RSRS) for ship financing and called upon other financial institutions to endorse them.

The initiative is seen as a good first step towards more sustainable practices and safe and healthy working places for workers and has been endorsed by internationally active expert labour union FNV, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and the Bellona Foundation. Read more.

  • In November, in our capacity as Steering Committee member of the Equator Principles, we took up role of reviewing the Equator Principles framework, including the concept of “Free Prior and Informed Consent for Indigenous Peoples”.

We will be disclosing more about our work in our first dedicated human rights report to be issued in 2018.

In October 2016, ING joined a group of banks, NGOs, unions and government led by the Dutch Banking Association. We all made a commitment to work together to improve human rights around the world. Read more.

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