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The world needs nature to thrive

Nature is all around us. It’s essential for our existence, good quality of life, and economic prosperity. Biodiversity, which is the variety of and interaction between all living things on earth, gives nature strength and resilience.

Human activities are causing the loss of nature at an alarming rate. Science tells us that if it’s not stopped, there will be impactful consequences for society, economy and human wellbeing. Fortunately, science also tells us that it’s not too late to make a difference.

Our approach to nature

One of the main causes of nature loss is climate change, which we address through our climate approach.

Our nature approach aims to address the other main drivers of nature loss, which are generally seen as habitat loss, overexploitation of natural resources, pollution and invasive species (those not native to a specific area).

We want to tackle the loss of nature by empowering our clients to contribute. We’ve identified three objectives that support this. These objectives focus on the impact we have through our loans to companies and are described below.

Our Nature publication explains our ambitions, objectives, actions and methodologies in more detail.

1. Managing risks and impacts

We work with our clients to understand risks and impacts related to nature loss and ensure these are mitigated. We do this for instance by applying strict ethical and environmental criteria in our financing decisions.

We don’t finance projects with direct impacts on certain high-value ecosystems. We’ve also excluded certain economic activities that are incompatible with our concern for nature and aim to align portfolios with global climate goals. These areas and activities are elaborated in our nature and biodiversity stance and in our ESR policy framework.

We also analysed the nature-related impacts and dependencies of global industries represented in our loan book. This showed the industries where we might expect the greatest risks to nature as well as the likely opportunities: farming & fishing, food & beverage processing, oil & gas upstream, and mining. This information will guide us on where to improve our risk and opportunity-identification processes.

2. Steering our portfolio and engaging with clients

We seek to steer our loan book in alignment with global goals on nature, starting with the Wholesale Banking sectors with the biggest impact. We do this through the choices we make in our financing and the engagement we have with our clients.

In particular, the negative impact human activities have on nature is a concern we’d like to address. That’s why we aim to engage with and encourage our clients to reduce the pressures their activities put on nature, improve their management of nature-related dependencies, impacts, risks and opportunities, and disclose relevant nature-related metrics. By doing so, we hope to make an active contribution to halting and ultimately reversal of nature loss.

We sometimes offer financial products that incentivise clients to make business decisions that benefit nature. For example, sustainability-linked loans reward clients for their sustainability performance, which can also be about bringing positive change for nature and ecosystems.

3. Promoting nature-mainstreaming internally and externally

‘Nature-mainstreaming’ is about making sure that nature and biodiversity are adequately understood, addressed and factored into relevant policies and practices, both internally and externally. We’re building these capabilities in our own organisation through several initiatives, for instance by making trainings on nature and biodiversity available to colleagues.

We also aim to collaborate with external stakeholders to advance knowledge, standards and methodologies. ING is part of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) Forum. Here, we contribute to a framework for corporates and financial institutions that helps them to assess, manage and report on their impacts and dependencies on nature.

With our approach on nature, we aim to take impactful steps to contribute to halting and reversing nature loss. The economy is in a transition, and so are our clients. We finance a lot of sustainable activities, but still finance more that’s not. We want to be there for clients – supporting and incentivising them with our advice and financing. We look forward to continuing this journey.

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