Our direction

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The world is changing so quickly, sometimes it’s hard to keep up. We at ING are here to help people stay a step ahead of these changes. To help them thrive in tomorrow’s world by turning the threats of climate change and fast-changing technology into opportunities.

If we want to get there, doing nothing isn’t an option—and saying no isn’t enough. Banks can’t do it alone, but where can we make a real impact?

We’ve made a lot of progress integrating sustainability with the business over the past years, which you can read about here. But we’re not done yet.

Now, we are ramping up our sustainability efforts. We have a new direction to guide us: all of our sustainability initiatives will help contribute to a low-carbon or self-reliant society.

Low-carbon society?

Climate change is a clear and present danger, and as a large global bank, we have a duty to help fight it. We believe in the Paris agreement, supporting the idea that the world must take steps to keep temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius (and ideally no more than 1.5 degrees). Read more about ING’s approach to climate action.

Self-reliant society?

Innovation is having an enormous impact on the world, and with that, our customers and employees. Our purpose is to help people stay a step ahead, which means that we must be at least two steps ahead.

For the most part, innovation makes our customers’ lives easier. But it can sometimes have a less-positive impact, which we don’t see right away. Artificial intelligence and digitalisation can simplify and improve processes, but have consequences for society – different skills needed, less jobs available, and even some jobs lost altogether. This can leave people struggling with harder financial choices.

We all know that helping people with those difficult financial choices is part of our strategy – and the impact this has on society is part of how we approach sustainability.

Our direction

Our sustainability direction, to contribute to a low-carbon and self-reliant society, has been broken down into building blocks, each with its own objectives and targets. For example:

  • becoming the industry leader in sustainable finance
  • creating products to specifically help our SME/Mid-Corp clients future-proof their businesses
  • helping the Think Forward Initiative financially empower 100 million people, and
  • aligning our portfolio with the two-degree scenario.
Contribute to a low-carbon and self-reliant society
Climate business Climate resilience Social business Inclusion and empowerment
Future-proofing Wholesale Banking clients by growing Climate Finance and Industry ESG leaders Steer portfolio to align with the well-below two-degree scenario Future-proofing Wholesale Banking clients by growing Social Impact Finance and Industry ESG leaders Using our data analytics to improve the financial health of our customers (Financial Empowerment)
Future-proofing SME/Mid-Corp clients Future-proof homeowners by making their houses more sustainable Growing Sustainable Assets under Management Partnering to help consumers in smarter decision-making (Think Forward Initiative)
Growing Sustainable Assets under Management Introducing policies, such as our sharpened coal policy Partnering to protect human rights (DBSA agreement) Empowering adolescents through Power for Youth programme
Developing and collaborating on innovative banking solutions Decreasing our operational footprint to well below 2 degrees   Empowering female colleagues through diversity programme
Partnering to accelerate circular economy (Ellen MacArthur Foundation/WEF) Recognise, understand and find solutions to address water stress    


Our global head of Sustainability reports directly to Management Board Banking (MBB) member Isabel Fernandez. The global Sustainability department coordinates the cascading of responsibilities through various business units to subject-matter experts. These experts help develop ING’s policies, programmes and targets related to sustainability-related risks and opportunities, in line with our global sustainability direction. Progress is communicated regularly to the MBB and to external stakeholders through ING’s quarterly reports.

The responsibility for our various sustainability targets lies either with the MBB member responsible for that specific area, or with the MBB as a whole. For example, responsibility for our ambition to double our Climate Finance portfolio by 2022 from 2017 lies with the MBB member responsible for Wholesale Banking and is cascaded throughout the organisation in the form of KPIs for deal teams. We also have the ambition to reduce our exposure to coal to close to zero by 2025. Our MBB as a whole is responsible for ensuring that this target is translated to policy and is adhered to within our risk processes.

The Board’s responsibility for social and environmental risks and opportunities is also formalised in our Executive Board Charter.

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