Richard (re)tweets: ‘Sustainability doesn’t have to be pricey’

Head of Sustainable Banking Richard Kooloos ranks his favourite tweets and retweets once every three months. This quarter’s picks: returns on a portfolio without oil and gas, the power of Norway’s pension fund for civil servants, and our integrated Annual Report.

Richard Kooloos, Head of Sustainable Banking at ABN AMRO and registered tweeter, pressed the tweet button nearly 3,000 times in just under 2,000 days.  He shares what he thinks, does and sees in the world of sustainability. This is his selection of tweets from the past quarter.

‘A report on human rights – not by an NGO, but by Norway’s pension fund for civil servants, one of the biggest investors in the world. The pension fund sends businesses the following message: “If you want us to invest in you, we expect you to take steps in human rights.” This is a prime example of how an investor can exact improvements in the business world. We at the bank do that too, for example with the ABN AMRO Human Rights Guide.  The guide explains our position on human rights and what we expect of our clients and the companies we do business with.’

‘In late March, we announced that we would help our commercial real estate clients make their properties more sustainable. We are making 1 billion euros in financing available for these investments. We’ve also launched an online application giving clients insight into energy saving opportunities. As a bank, we benefit from ‘greener’ real estate, because this raises the value of the property and lowers risks. In other words, if you don’t make your real estate more sustainable, the bank’s collateral will ultimately go down in value – and that could cause problems with refinancing in the future.’

‘For a long time, “social enterprise” was a relatively unknown concept in the Netherlands. In fact, it has only truly started to flourish since the recent crisis subsided. Businesses are filling the gap left by government taking a step back. Society is becoming more robust as it becomes less dependent on the state. Investments in research, education and structural solutions are required to promote the growth of social enterprise. This university chair, which ABN AMRO helped to create, will make an important contribution to this development.’

‘Of course I’m proud of our first integrated Annual Report, which was published in March. The report presents the bank’s financial and non-financial results, including information on sustainability. We’re not there yet, but it shows that we are headed in a certain direction. We’re thinking about, and looking ahead to, the future. That gives me hope. As we are better able to see the big picture – our financial and non-financial performance – we can take more sustainable decisions together with our clients.’

‘This study shows that sustainable investment does not produce lower returns than mainstream investment. A lot of pension funds are already cautiously avoiding direct investments in oil and gas companies. That’s a good start, but their policies could be much more sustainable. As the research demonstrates, this doesn’t result in lower pensions for members. Sustainability doesn’t have to be pricey.’