ABN AMRO and the future of sustainability – with Topic Leader Daphne de Kluis

Posted on 25 mei 2018

A talk with Daphne de Kluis, CEO of Commercial Banking at ABN AMRO.


What fuels your personal drive to contribute to a sustainable world?

I view sustainability as an amazing opportunity to do things differently, and do them better. Living a sustainable life is important to me personally as well as when conducting business. I believe sustainability is also about being ready for the future. We need to innovate and stay relevant. This is something I find important for my own family and for the next generations, as they will live in a completely different world. But within ABN AMRO as well, we believe we need to help our clients in the transition towards a more sustainable business model and to make sure together that we stay relevant in a healthy environment.

I always strive to contribute to a more sustainable world. Just to give you an example: I’ve invested in solar panels, and have improved the energy label of my home. On the other hand, my dilemma is that I travel a lot by plane. I’m still looking for opportunities to travel with less impact on our environment.

How has ABN contributed to creating sustainable innovations?

Sustainability is an important part of ABN AMRO’s strategy. We believe that we need to help our clients in the transition towards a sustainable business model. I would like to share a number of examples of how ABN AMRO is already contributing to this transition. We encourage our clients to make their real estate properties more energy efficient. Over half of ABN AMRO’s balance sheet consists of real estate-related loans and so we can really have an impact here! We finance companies with new circular business models and provide equity and debt for wind and solar energy parks. Also, our sustainable finance desk is open for business to finance companies with sustainable business plans. With Footprint Based Banking we are working on reducing our own carbon footprint. We offer business innovation workshops to our clients to grow towards a more circular business model.

And we participate in the ‘Partnership Verkiezing’ of course. ABN AMRO’s entries are two very interesting projects, and I’m happy to see that competition is fierce. So many interesting and good ideas have been entered into the Partnership Verkiezing. In fact, this is a winning event in and of itself.


According to you, by 2030, what role and responsibility should commercial banks have if they’re looking to contribute to sustainability?

The world is changing fast. When we look at demographics, economic and climate developments and the demand for food, energy, and natural resources, we need to discuss sustainable business solutions with our clients right now. We want to challenge and advise our clients, and will make sure these sustainable business solutions can be financed. As a bank, but also society at large, we should realize the world’s resources are not inexhaustible. We strongly believe we need to focus on providing a good perspective for generations to come. Not from 2030, but from today.

To get there, we have set three concrete goals that we want to achieve in 2020. Through collaboration with our clients, we want to finance EUR 1 billion in circular assets, finance 100 circular loans and we want to reduce carbon emissions by 1 million tonnes.

What role can young professionals play at ABN AMRO?

I feel that young professionals are full of energy, often are able to think outside the box and, more importantly, they’re not afraid to speak their minds. They flourish when they’re given the freedom and opportunities to use their strengths. We saw this when participating in the Nudge Global Impact Challenge where the best global young leaders in sustainability shared their impact statements. And of course by participating in the Partnership Verkiezing.

What advice do you have for young professionals participating in the Partnership Verkiezing?

Always stay true to yourself. Maintain a good balance between, on the one hand, being open to new ideas/developments and, on the other, staying close to your own beliefs and values. Choose issues you’re really interested in. If you’re working on something you think is important, or something you enjoy doing the result will almost always be most satisfactory!

Do you want to learn more about this Topic and/or join the next Partnership Verkiezing? Send us a message!