A 2019 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (PDF 3,8 MB)says that ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. This accelerated pace of biodiversity loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being all across the world.
ING has identified the industrial, infrastructure, agricultural and extractives sectors to be most exposed to biodiversity risk. Biodiversity is integrated into our Environmental and Social Risk (ESR) policy framework. Biodiversity risk analysis takes place at both the client and deal level, including project finance.
ING does not finance projects with direct impacts on UNESCO heritage sites, Ramsar wetland sites or areas designated for protection by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN I and II areas). This restriction applies to transaction assessments during credit approval. Read our stance on deforestation.
ING is a signatory of the Equator Principles and we’ve contributed to the development of the new Equator Principles 4 (EP 4) framework. For project finance in scope of an EP assessment, ING applies the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards 6 (PS6) on biodiversity.
From risk to opportunity
While we strive to address the risks of biodiversity loss, we also look for opportunities for positive impact. ING supports clients and projects in areas of sustainable water management and climate adaptation. In 2019, we recorded €251 million in such projects. When we finance projects with environmental benefits we also consider biodiversity. For example, we check whether projects involving wind and solar parks cross any migratory bird corridors.
While climate change is a key driver of biodiversity loss, protecting biodiversity can make substantial contributions to climate change mitigation and adaptation. For example, floodplains and wetlands can protect communities from floods. Coral reefs, seagrass and mangroves buffer coastlines from waves and storms. Forested slopes stabilise sediments, protecting people from landslides (PDF 6 MB).
Reducing deforestation in tropical regions, for example, is a priority for protecting biodiversity and can make major contributions to climate mitigation, especially when combined with other efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses.
Our effort to align our lending portfolio with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement means that we engage our clients to help them align as well. Climate alignment may help our clients to reduce not only their climate impact, but also the related strain on land use, as well as to protect biodiversity. Read more about our Terra approach.
Partnerships and initiatives
ING advocates for establishing a biodiversity data-sharing platform for the entire banking sector. Robust biodiversity baseline and monitoring data are crucial in understanding transaction-level biodiversity impacts, and needed for aligning with international best practices like IFC Performance Standard 6. Sharing this data would help amplify and coordinate the banking sector’s response to biodiversity risk.
ING continues to advance our understanding of biodiversity risk and how to best manage it. We are a member of the finance workstream of the EU Business@Biodiversity platform, which is an EU-led initiative that aims to support financial institutions integrate biodiversity risks and opportunities.
We’re also partnering with the non-profit Global Canopy on user testing for ‘Trase for Finance’, an open-access information system and decision-support platform. We’re exploring the platform’s application in assessing deforestation risks.
Furthermore, ING is involved in a UNEP-FI initiative to set up a biodiversity assessment tool for the banking sector.
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Mail to: Sustainability@ing.com