December 13, 2018
While ING has launched a campaign on sustainable investment ("it's good for your future and mine"), a group of NGOs visited more than 20 agencies across the country to report ING's toxic financing to some palm oil companies. The mobilization of NGOs was also an opportunity to meet with agency directors and to raise awareness among employees and clients about the bank's practices, contrary to its social and environmental commitments.
"It was time to take action," says Florence Kroff (FIAN Belgium) on behalf of the NGO collective. "In the two years we have been talking to ING to finally start meeting its own social and environmental criteria, we have not seen any concrete change in its relations with clients such as SOCFIN, when it is clear that this multinational company active in the palm oil sector is responsible for land grabbing and human rights abuses of local communities in Sierra Leone. Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, or Liberia. It was our duty to inform not only the public but above all the employees and customers of the bank."
Disguised as a lion, several dozen citizens visited the agencies of the cities of Namur, Liège, Ghent and Brussels in order to directly question the agency's management about the bank's practices. These peaceful actions were aimed at raising awareness among the agencies, which were the first to be concerned by the bank's image with the public.
"We've had excellent returns from these actions," explains Sébastien Mortier (FairFin). The heads of the agencies, little or badly informed of the subject before our visit, have committed to bring our recommendations back to the central management. The people employed were concerned about the issue, and customers were asking us to act with us by going to our website and filing a complaint with ING."
That is why the NGO collective decided to return to ING's headquarters, after an initial action on 23 October that brought together more than 60 participants. THE NGOs will carry out a new awareness campaign on Thursday and will request a new meeting with ING's leaders.
"The Directorate is aware that it can no longer be satisfied with its rhetoric in recent years that it prefers to maintain a relationship with controversial clients in order to support them in improving their practices. We have shown that for the last five years, things have not changed positively on the ground. ING must now commit to strictly implementing its policy on social and environmental risks, making public relevant investment information in risky sectors and stopping their toxic financing," said François Graas (SOS Hunger).
While on paper the bank commits to complying with a range of social and environmental criteria in its lending, particularly in sensitive sectors such as palm oil, the NGO collective denounces the continuation of the 80 million euro loan granted to SOCFIN in 2016 and the negotiation of a new loan of 15 million euros whose status has not yet been clarified by the bank.
- Help – Fraternity
- FIAN Belgium
- MAP – Peasant Action Movement
- Oakland Institute
- Oxfam Solidarity
- SOS Hunger
Public action planned this 13/12 – 12:30 – ING Marnix – Brussels
See the specific campaign site: www.greenwash-ing.be
The Milieudefensie campaign relaying similar demands at ING's headquarters in the Netherlands