On 5 July 2019, Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth Netherlands, WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia, and Sustainable Development Institute/Friends of the Earth Liberia filed a specific instance against ING Group at the Dutch NCP. The complaint argues that ING Group has breached the OECD Guidelines by contributing to specific adverse environmental, human rights, and labour rights impacts caused by ING’s palm oil clients Noble Group Ltd., Bolloré Group/Socfin Group S.A., and Wilmar International Ltd. or their subsidiaries.
The complaint is the first one filed by NGOs that charges a bank with having contributed to harms of its clients. The complaint argues that ING was initially only directly linked to these specific impacts through the business relationship between ING and these three clients. However, due to the high degree of foreseeability of the harmful impacts and ING‘s failure to actually mitigate or decrease the risk of impacts and continued provision and renewal of loans of a substantial total amount to these clients, ING has come to be in a position of contributing substantially to the harmful impacts.
The complainants are seeking the Dutch NCP’s good offices to encourage ING to take several steps, including to:
- Cease contribution to the harms identified in the case examples by responsibly divesting from the clients named in the complaint;
- Participate independently or with its clients in the remediation of the impacts identified;
- Include improved sustainability and disclosure criteria in its financing contracts moving forward;
- Develop improved due diligence criteria that guarantee credible and timely information about clients’ actual and potential impacts;
- Improve its public disclosure on its engagement with clients about their actual or potential impacts based on its due diligence; and
- Develp clear procedures on when and how it will divest responsibly from clients.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Chapter II
- Chapter II Paragraph A10
- Chapter II Paragraph A11
- Chapter II Paragraph A12
- Chapter IV
- Chapter IV Paragraph 2
- Chapter IV Paragraph 3
- Chapter IV Paragraph 5
- Chapter IV Paragraph 6
On 5 July 2019, ING issued a response expressing its willingness “to explain or elaborate on [its] approach, either directly to Friends of the Earth or through the NCP.
On 20 January 2020, the Dutch NCP accepted the complaint.