Nordea: The European Leader in Banking, Sustainably

Nordea has embedded sustainability into its business strategy to provide banking that benefits its clients now, and the environment of the future

Based in Finland, Nordea is a universal bank that has spent the last 200 years supporting and growing nordic communities. The largest bank in the Nordic region has four business areas: Personal Banking, Business Banking, Large Corporates & Institutions and Asset & Wealth Management. 

Built around people, Nordea has a strong sense of community and has made sustainability an integrated part of its business strategy.

“99.9% of Nordea’s emissions are financed emissions, that is, emissions from our customers and portfolio companies,” explains Anja Hannerz, Head of Group Sustainability at Nordea.

Anja Hannerz, Head of Group Sustainability at Nordea.

“Banks play a unique role in terms of what and who we choose to finance – and how we act as responsible owners of the companies we invest in,” Anja says.

“In other words, with ambitious targets and a clear strategy, financial institutions can be a link between sectors and allocate capital in a way that drives structural change without being limited by country borders. Our strategy focuses on supporting our customers in their sustainable transition.”

Nordea summarises its sustainability goals into three time frames: 

  • 2050 long-term objective – become a net zero bank by 2050 at the latest
  • 2030 mid-term objective – reduce carbon emissions across its lending and investment portfolios by 40-50% and from internal operations by more than 50% compared to 2019
  • 2023-2025 short-term climate action objectives include:
    • Facilitate more than €200bn (US$213bn) in sustainable financing by the end of 2025.
    • Total carbon reduction from internal operations of 30% compared with 2019 by the end of 2023.
    • Ensure that suppliers covering 80% of spend are either aligned with the Paris Agreement or subject to active engagement to become aligned by 2025.
    • Ensure that 90% of exposure to large corporate customers in climate-vulnerable sectors is covered by transition plans by the end of 2025.
    • By 2025, ensure that 80% of the top 200 financed emissions contributors in Nordea Asset Management’s portfolios are either aligned with the Paris Agreement or subject to active engagement to become aligned.
    • Double the share of net-zero-committed assets under management (AuM) by 2025.
    • Grow gross inflows from the sustainable selection universe to account for 33% of total fund gross inflows by the end of 2025.
    • Reduce the carbon footprint from Nordea Life & Pension’s listed equity, corporate bond and real estate portfolios by at least 25% by the end of 2024.
    • All asset managers managing assets on behalf of Nordea Life & Pension must commit, no later than 2024, to transitioning their assets under management to net-zero by 2050.

Sustainability in banking

Nordea’s sustainability objectives were set out in 2019, and have been regularly assessed since. 

“Until now, climate action and the green transition have been the main topics,” Anja shares. 

“Sustainability in Nordea is about enabling customers to reduce their emissions as well as reducing our own carbon footprint. Since 2019 we have reduced financed emissions in the lending portfolio by 29% and carbon emissions from our internal operations by 51%."

Nordea aims to set itself apart from other large banks, with sustainability driving the differences. 

Anja explains the differences: 

“Most banks have set a net-zero commitment for 2050, but Nordea is one of few European banks that has set a portfolio-wide 2030 objective to reduce emissions across both lending and investment activities in line with our 2050 commitment.

"We’re showing strong progress, notably the absolute emissions from the lending portfolio are down by as much as 29% compared with 2019, making us more than halfway towards our 2030 objective to reduce emissions by 40-50%. Reaching our mid-term goal will be a strong proof point of how we work as a bank together with our customers.

"Thanks to Nordea’s size, strong capital position and Nordic presence we really have the potential to make an impact in so many different areas. We can make a positive impact on society and change the future for the better.”

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