The economical use of resources, the minimization of one's own ecological footprint, and value-oriented and socially responsible action - along the entire value chain - are core entrepreneurial virtues of the 21st century. Developments in recent years have shown that such behavior is not at odds with corporate management geared to long-term profit orientation and efficiency, but rather complements it in securing the company's own existence.
Financial institutions are not exempt from this trend. On the contrary, financial intermediaries in particular have an outstanding role to play in the transformation toward a sustainable economic and social structure. This is not so much due to the operational processes of a bank per se, because as a service provider, they have a rather small ecological footprint - and thus very little potential to reduce it and contribute to the achievement of ecological goals such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in line with the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Climate Agreement or the strengthening of biodiversity.
The crucial impact arises for financial institutions through their central role as intermediaries between capital surplus units (investors) and capital deficit units (borrowers). Through their eminently important function of carrying out lot-size, maturity and risk transformation, banks can contribute decisively to sustainable development.
Sustainability is thus relevant along the product-related value chain, at least as far as the overall social impact is concerned. This applies to increased customer-side investment activities, but also to proprietary investments as well as lending for use in an ecological and social sense.
In the research area of sustainability economics and finance, findings on sustainable transformation in the (financial) economy are generated in various projects.