Sustainable development goals

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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 global goals that the United Nations General Assembly set in 2015 for the year 2030. They address the global challenges we face, such as poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.

This is the first time that the private sector (i.e. everything other than governments) has been called on to play a key role in achieving the global development agenda – and not in terms of charity, but by exploring new business opportunities. Achieving the SDGs could open up an estimated $12 trillion in market opportunities, according to the Better Business Better World report by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission. Seizing such opportunities will require innovation and an enhanced approach to partnerships.

Our strategic focus

As a large bank present in over 40 countries, we contribute directly and indirectly to all SDGs through the clients and projects we finance. So we choose to focus on the SDGs that we can impact the most, using our business strategy and purpose to guide our choice.

Our approach to sustainability is in the areas of climate action and financial health. So we focus on the SDGs for promoting climate action (goal 13), sustainable consumption and production (goal 12) , and sustainable and inclusive economic growth (goal 8).

In doing so, we work with other financial institutions, multinational enterprises and industry organisations to advance our understanding of the SDGs and capture impact opportunities.

SDG 13: Climate action

SDG 13: Climate action

This goal is about the climate crisis – one of the biggest threats of our time. The growing scarcity of water, food, energy and other material resources poses daunting social and environmental challenges. Being sustainable is not just about reducing our own impact, it’s in all the choices we make—as a lender, as an partner and through the services we offer our customers.

ING aims to be a leader in addressing the climate crisis. We make the most positive impact on climate action through our financing, via the money we loan to companies and customers. We have a loan book of about €700 billion across many sectors, which we are steering towards meeting net-zero climate goals. We call this the Terra approach. Read more about our approach to climate action.

SDG 13: Climate action
Programme or policy Impact area ING performance measure Link to SDG target
Terra Approach Lending portfolio alignment portfolio aligned with well-below 2 degree goal 13.A
Responsible Finance - Climate Impact Energy transition O/S 13.3
Responsible Finance - Climate Impact Water (including climate adaptation O/S 13.1
Environmental and Social Risk (ESR) policy framework Climate policy # deals screened
# deals reported
high risk

SDG 12: Sustainable consumption and production

SDG 12: Sustainable consumption and production

Goal 12 relates to preventing the degradation of environmental resources. It includes policies that improve resource efficiency, reduce waste and make sustainability practices mainstream.

ING has committed to better understanding the impact of our lending activities and to working with clients to drive sustainable progress. In 2018, we recorded €7.1 billion in lending outstandings to industry ESG leaders, and we aim to double this by 2022 compared to 2017.

We drive responsible consumption and production through our sustainable lending activities. We select companies whose activities consider people, society and the environment. We believe these companies will outperform on return and impact in the long term. For example, our commitment to sustainability means our financing to coal power generation will fall to close to near-zero by 2025. It also means that we do not finance sectors that exhibit controversial behaviour, such as human rights abuses.

Here are some examples. In 2017, we completed the first sustainability improvement loan, where the interest rate is linked to the client’s sustainability performance and rating (the better the company does on sustainability, the lower the interest rate). We completed the first green hybrid bond, raising €1 billion to fund wind energy in the Netherlands and Germany; and the UK’s first green bond in the public utilities sector (water).

SDG 12: Sustainable consumption and production
Programme or policy Impact area ING performance measure Link to SDG target
Responsible Finance - Social Impact Food security Lending outstandings
Responsible Finance - Climate Impact Energy transition O/S 12.4
Sustainable transportation O/S 12.C
Waste management O/S 12.3, 12.4, 12.5
Circular economy O/S 12.4
Responsible Finance - ESG Leaders Lending to industry ESG leaders O/S 12.2, 12.6
Environmental and Social Risk (ESR) policy framework Climate policy # deals screened
# deals reported high risk
12.2, 12.3, 12.5, 12.6
Sustainable procurement Third-party sustainability performance assessments % key suppliers with third party sustainability rating 12.2, 12.3, 12.5, 12.6
Direct environmental footprint Waste generation tonnes 12.4
Environmental and Social Risk (ESR) management Equator Principles (EP) reporting # deals screened 12.2, 12.6

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

This goal is about inclusive and sustainable economic growth, which banks play a key part in because of their role in the global economy. The goal involves increasing work opportunities, especially for young people, and protecting people’s labour rights, for example.

In terms of sustainable economic growth, we have a hard stance against certain activities that we will never finance. Then there are clients and projects that we finance only after certain environmental and social standards are met. Read more about our environmental and social risk approach. We’re also embedding human rights due diligence into our business and are aligning with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Read more about our approach to human rights.

Besides mitigating harm, we also seek ways to make positive contributions to SDG 8. We pursue sustainable innovation through technology and new business models. Our Responsible Finance portfolio contributes to our approach to climate action and financial health.

We believe financially healthy people contribute to a healthy economy and help drive social progress. We aim to make a positive impact here by providing people with information, innovations and by being involved with both government and private-sector initiatives. Read more about our approach to financial health.

We also use our expertise to create a positive impact in our communities. Our community investment approach supports programmes that contribute to an inclusive economy, aiming to help 3 million people gain better access to the economy by 2025.

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth
Programme or policy Impact area ING performance measure Link to SDG target
Responsible Finance* - Social Impact Community development Lending outstandings
8.2, 8.3, 8.5
8.6, 8.9
Financial access and microfinance O/S 8.2, 8.3, 8.5
8.6, 8.7, 8.8
Responsible Finance - Climate impact Circular economy O/S 8.2, 8.4
Responsible Finance - Climate Impact Energy efficiency (O/S) 8.2, 8.4
Energy transition O/S 8.2, 8.4
Alignment with the UN Guiding Principles on business and Human Rights ING as employer: salient risks analysis # identified risks and actions 8.6
Environmental and Social Risk (ESR) policy framework ING Human Rights policy # deals screened;
# deals reported as high risk
8.6, 8.8
Financial Health Feeling of financial empowerment # number of customers who felt empowered 8.10
Power for Youth # adolescents 8.6

* Responsible Finance categories are linked to SDG targets based on the Green Bond Principles and Social Bond Principles mapping by ICMA.

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