Springtij 2019: The urgency is enormous, there is a tremendous rush and there is hope

'Tomorrow has long begun' was the theme of the recent Springtij Forum on Terschelling. This annual three-day congress focuses on sustainability, and among those present were representatives from the business community, the government, NGOs and universities. Banks – financiers of many sustainable projects – also took part in the congress. The sole topic of conversation at Springtij was: what needs to be done in the next 5 years to make the future sustainable?

Banks and other financial institutions play an important role in the financing of a large number of sustainable projects and the energy transition. Over the last year, the financial sector has therefore committed itself to supporting this sustainability transition, as demonstrated by, for example, the Climate Commitment that was signed by many banks last summer. Frank Elderson, a board member of the Dutch Central Bank, also emphasised the urgency of sustainability in the Financial sector during Springtij: "The urgency is enormous, there is a tremendous rush and there is hope. If it is possible within central banks and the financial sector, it is possible everywhere". The Dutch banks, including ABN AMRO, Rabobank, ING, FMO and Triodos Bank, therefore actively participated in the interactive working sessions on Terschelling.

Opportunities and Dilemmas

This time the forum mainly focused on connecting the different parties within society, with collective sustainable change as a central concern. Sustainability was approached within various themes, including climate, housing and biodiversity. For example, at the forum, Daan Schipper of Rabobank and Jorim Schraven of FMO spoke with forest experts about the opportunities and dilemmas of investments in forests outside the Netherlands in the context of biodiversity. Kees Vendrik of the Triodos Bank talked about the initiatives within the financial sector and the banking sector with regards to climate change. One of those initiatives is the UN Principles for Responsible Banking that were launched on 23 September in New York, through which the Triodos Bank, as well as ING, contributed significantly to the international standards.

Social aspects

The social aspects of the energy transition were also addressed at the forum. For example, the CEO of Rabobank, Wiebe Draijer, talked about the new kind of leadership necessary for the transition and the Global head of advisory, reporting and engagement of ABN AMRO, Tjeerd Krumpelman, took part in a session about financial corporations and broad prosperity.