The sweeping changes seen since the turn of the millennium, which have been driven by the trend that has emerged in the past few decades towards more responsible use of social and natural resources, have strengthened HYPO NOE’s commitment to live up to the ethical and environmental demands placed on modern companies, such as the need to minimise climate change.
Ethical business principles
Our ethical and business principles comprise inclusion and exclusion criteria, which form the basis for initiating business contacts. Since they apply to the entire HYPO NOE, ethical business principles have been integrated into our strategy and increasingly play a part in the Bank’s processes. Detailed knowledge of the objectives of lending is vital to identifying the Bank’s risk exposures and those of its customers, and to developing effective services. Inclusion criteria are used to promote business activities in those areas which the HYPO NOE believes generate the greatest benefits for society, while exclusion criteria help to identify sectors where the Bank chooses not to operate.
Inclusion criteria – guiding our actions
The Strategy for the Danube Region adopted by the European Union, the EU’s Europe 2020 targets and the 2020 energy targets implemented by the state of Lower Austria form the basis for the positive criteria used by HYPO NOE when initiating business contacts. These criteria are an integral part of the Bank’s Danube region strategy.
Exclusion criteria – sharpening our focus
As a general rule, significant care must be exercised when it comes to the following forms of lending; in some cases, financing is not permitted.
- Finance for nuclear power plants
- Finance for transactions that damage the environment
- Finance for arms deals
- Finance for transactions related to pornography and prostitution
- Finance for countries engaged in armed conflicts (as defined in the OeKB country list)
- Finance for transactions that constitute a violation of human rights (as defined by the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Finance for transactions that violate the core conventions of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (e.g. freedom of association and the right to organise, forced labour, child labour and discrimination)
- Finance for transactions that contravene the Bank’s guidelines on business ethics and compliance, and transactions where there is suspicion of corruption
Reputational risks are particularly likely to arise in connection with borrowers operating in industries that are incompatible with the image and values of the HYPO NOE Landesbank and its owner, the Lower Austrian state government. Here, too, particular care must be exercised, and in case of doubt the Bank refrains from business dealings with those concerned.
Ecologically and socially sensitive sectors
Besides taking ethical principles into account, HYPO NOE also concentrates on sustainable financing for the environmentally and socially sensitive sectors of energy production, mining, forestry and agriculture.
We believe that consideration of environmental and social standards in these areas is vital to the responsible
and sustainable development of our target markets. With this in mind, the Bank makes efforts to identify transactions that intensify the effects of climate change or increase CO2 emissions, and raises these issues with its business partners. Regional protection measures aimed at preventing large-scale, long-term interventions in social and environmental structures, and water conservation are also taken into consideration.