ABN AMRO's contribution to sustainability in the diamond industry

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Open pit mine

ABN AMRO serves a cross-section of society, from customers who consciously embed sustainability in their operations to customers who don't give sustainability a second thought. At ABN AMRO, we want to contribute to a better world. One way we are doing so is by helping our customers become more sustainable.

The human rights research method that we jointly developed is also relevant to other high-risk sectors. Richard Kooloos Richard Kooloos Head of Sustainable Banking

The diamond industry
One of the sectors we serve includes businesses in the diamond and jewellery industry. These are highly specialised companies with long supply chains. Diamonds are mined in countries like Congo, South Africa and Russia and supplied to customers via various links in the chain. As a bank, we are responsible for ensuring that our customers (and their suppliers) respect human rights. In this light, the diamond industry is a high-risk sector. So although we have pursued a strict sustainability policy for many years, we wanted to see if we could do more.

Research and new opportunities 
The first step was to sign up for a research project set up by the Dutch Social and Economic Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The goal was to define how we could do more to identify, prioritise and address human rights risks. ABN AMRO was selected from several companies to participate in this project. In a number of intensive workshops, we worked together with other businesses, community organisations, governments, scientists and human rights experts. We discussed a variety of dilemmas and explored how we can use our position as a bank to improve practices in the diamond industry.

An important finding was that our current sustainability policy passed the test with flying colours. We also defined new opportunities for improving communication with customers and conducting a multi-stakeholder dialogue, allowing us to make a more substantial contribution to improving the diamond industry.

On Thursday, 6 March the chairman of the Social and Economic Council, Wiebe Draaijer, handed over the research report to Minister Lilianne Ploumen for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. The human rights research method that we jointly developed is also relevant to other high-risk sectors. We will roll out this method further and integrate our findings into the policies for other industries.

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