Sustainable impact sometimes interferes with commercial interests

ABN AMRO explicitly wants to have a sustainable impact on society. It is for this reason that we pursue a strict and extensive sustainability policy. Our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria are described in several documents, such as our Climate Change Statement, our Sector Policies and our Human Rights Statement.

We believe that sustainability and a healthy business performance can go hand in hand. The two can often reinforce each other, but sometimes there is friction. An example was the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in the United States, which drew fierce protests from members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, who live on the land through which the pipeline was to run. 

ABN AMRO was not involved in funding the pipeline, but it did have a financing relationship with Energy Transfer Equity (ETE), the parent company of one of the pipeline construction companies. The bank had been engaged in dialogue with ETE on this issue since 2016, because in its sustainability policy it endorses the FPIC (Free Prior and Informed Consent) principle. This means that ABN AMRO considers it important that indigenous peoples have a say in decisions that have an impact on their living environment. As the construction activities had resumed in February 2017 without the consent of the Sioux, ABN AMRO decided to end its relationship with ETE. This decision was not in ABN AMRO’s immediate commercial interest, but in this case sticking to our sustainability policy weighed more heavily in the balance.