December 30, 2005

Green Banking

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Sustainable Development Gateway

"The SD Gateway integrates the on-line information developed by members of the Sustainable Development Communications Network. In addition to over 1,200 documents available in SD Topics, we provide services such as a calendar of events, a job bank, the Sustainability Web Ring, a roster of mailing lists(listservs) and news sites dealing with sustainable development."

Web Link - Sustainable Development Gateway
Web Link - Sustainable Development Communications Network

Sustainable Development Communications Network (SDCN)
c/o International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Winnipeg, MB, R3B 0Y4, Canada

Green Banking

Whether the subject is Green Building or Sustainable Agriculture, eventually the issue of financing comes up. The reality of funding for change always seems challenging. This issue of KnowledgeFarm touches on the surface of this issue and provides examples of progress.

The examples below were not randomly chosen but they remain somewhat superficial when considering where we are on a timeline to "sustainability". The examples may be inspiring and helpful but they do not get to the local level to illustrate how the work of assembling new pictures using the puzzle pieces called banking, zoning, development and profit, is getting done by people who are commited to see change happen. I hope we will find more of the latter to profile in 2006.

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Can Financial Institutions Contribute to Sustainability?
by Stephen Viederman

"If we read and believe global surveys about public attitudes towards the environment, and many other "sustainability" issues of expressed public concern such as community, poverty and the like, we would have to conclude that the myriad conferences and publications on these issues are a waste of time. Everyone insists that they are deeply concerned. For example, I have never met anyone in finance or banking who does not profess to being an environmentalist, as a person, a parent, a grandparent, as a citizen and, more often than not, as a financial contributor to and member of one or more environmental organisations."

"More often than not, "sustainability" is shorthand for "environmental sustainability". But therein lies a problem that everyone concerned with banking and finance must address, namely: the environment cannot be sustained in a vacuum. As the UN Conference on Environment and Development in reminded us, to save the environment we must also deal with issues of development, and this requires that we address questions of poverty, of equity, and of justice, of power, directly. But read corporate "sustainability" reports and try to find serious attention-any attention-to community or equity. It isn't there. Eco-efficiency is there, and is important, as a necessary component of environ- mental sustainability. But efficiency in the marketplace is not a sufficient condition for truly sustainable development. In fact, equity and justice are preconditions of efficiency in the larger social context."

"If we agree that sustainability is broader than the environment, we must then address the role of corporations and the banking and financial world in sustainable development. Alicia Barcena, former director of the Earth Council, suggests that "sustainability" encompasses the five E's: ethics, equity, environment, economy and empowerment."

"What are the components of "profitability"? Can we assess profitability and responsibility without assessing the social costs borne by the society at large which are incurred in achieving financial profit? Are cash values all that count?"

"To whom are we responsible, and in what ways? What behaviours must we change to become truly responsible? It has been suggested that the obscure takes a while to see, the obvious, longer. The philosopher Schopenhauer believed that all truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed; second it is violently opposed; third, it is accepted as self-evident. We have arrived at, or are close to, stage three, in our beliefs that the sustainability and finance must be linked. Now it is up to us to be certain that our behaviour is consistent within these beliefs, while striving to get others to join us."

read the full text

from: Chapter 32
Sustainable Banking
The Greening of Finance
Edited by Jan Jaap Bouma, Erasmus University, Netherlands, Marcel Jeucken, Rabobank, Netherlands, and Leon Klinkers, Deloitte &Touche, Netherlands
Published in association with Deloitte & Touche
480pp Hardback | ISBN 1 874719 38 1 | £45.00 US$84.00 | March 2001

Banking on change
by Marco Visscher
Ode Magazine, January/February, 2006

"Ivo van den Baar is an artist. He works mostly out in the world rather than in his studio because he believes art has been cut off from society. Recently he and his partner, Nicole Driessens, spent three months in the main lobby of a medical centre in Rotterdam working 9 to 5 on 10 pieces of art: a colourful selection of vases for the oncology department ("the sad display of flowers in such hospitals is incredible"), a collection of blankets with books for dialysis patients ("they're hooked up to that machine for four hours; this way they have instant access to reading materials"). And down the road they'll be creating a 175-metre-long (190-yard-long) mural of a street in Rotterdam due to be demolished‹"to ease the traumatic view."

"When an artist needs a loan, especially an unconventional artist like Van den Baar, banks are usually skeptical. When Van den Baar sought a mortgage for a new space to live and work, he faced a lot of furrowed brows among the bankers he approached. Financial receipts were studied. Estimations of future sales predicted. Calculations produced. No deal. They considered Van den Baar too great a risk.

"But he got his mortgage after all, thanks to a bank that considered the situation a little more deeply. "Without that bank," he declares, "we would never have made it." It was a bank that was interested in the actual content of his work. A bank that knows artists don't need a lot of material things, don't have terribly high expectations for their pension plans and are resourceful enough to make ends meet. A bank, in fact, that doesn't see artists so much as financial risks but important players in the effort to create a sustainable society. What kind of bank is that?

"Introducing Triodos Bank, with a balance sheet total of over 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion U.S.), a net profit of 3.6 million euros ($4.2 million U.S.) in 2004 and 100,000 faithful customers in the Netherlands, Belgium, England and Spain. And Triodos doesn't limit its financial goodwill to nurturing art and artists-it is known primarily for financing organic agriculture and sustainable-energy projects."

read the full text

Web Link - Triodos Bank
Web Link - Ode Magazine - an independent magazine about the people and ideas that are changing the world.

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Photo of the week

SE Colorado - 2005

Redbud Wind - energy project archive

This wind turbine icon provides a link to track progress at the Redbud Wind I site at Enid, OK. The intent is to provide an ongoing look inside the procedures of wind energy analysis at this site. The icon will appear in future newsletters.

George Beggs 12/2005 - Feedback is welcome

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