Finance has the mettle required to move the world in a green direction. This is something DNB’s customers will certainly become aware of—if they haven’t already—regardless of which industry they operate in.
“The green shift is a risk that must be taken into account as it changes entire industries. But at the same time, it also opens up tremendous opportunities,” explains Kristin Holth, global head of ocean industries at DNB.
“Just look at the innovation that has emerged due to mandatory requirements that have been enacted. For example, the IMO has set emissions targets the shipping industry needs to adhere to by 2050. The oil and gas industry has started the job of electrifying both the offshore service fleet and infrastructure near land. At the same time, the seafood industry is also contributing by raising the bar for more sustainable food production.”
Feeding the world
Seafood is a key element in achieving production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) index measures the level of sustainability in different types of foods that provide humans with life-sustaining protein. It is an example of a strong, independent measurement tool that—through sharing and analysis of facts—can influence both policy and investors.
At Nova Sea, one of the largest producers of farmed Atlantic salmon in northern Norway, owner Aino Olaisen is a firm believer in the power of knowledge, insight and transparency.
On the shores of Lovund, an idyllic island situated on the western Norwegian coast, Olaisen livestreams footage of fish farms, weather patterns and the coastline around the clock.
“It’s vital that people know more about our second largest exported product,” she says.
In a collaborative effort with DNB, Olaisen and her business partners established The Salmon, a science centre and restaurant that enlightens guests about Norwegian salmon. The facility is located in the heart of Oslo’s restaurant district.
In Norway, fish farming is concentrated in sparsely populated areas along the coast and in fjords. Most people reside in and around the capital. As such, while seafood is a pillar of the nation’s economy—and central to its history—it isn’t a given that everyone knows about fish farming.
“DNB is the world's largest bank for aquaculture and naturally is keen to ramp up public engagement in the industry,” Olaisen explains. “Every week, we see that interest is growing as more knowledge is showcased.”.
Students between the ages of 13 and 16 are regular guests at the science centre. Many are open to the possibility of a career in the seafood industry after they visit.
“I expected them to answer no way when I asked them whether they would like to work with fish in the future,” she continues. “But actually, the opposite is the case. Many of these youngsters view the industry as exciting.”
“Based on more available facts, analysis and industry insights, the trend is that more elements in the [maritime, energy and seafood] industries are being measured and compared: the carbon footprint of ships, traceability of food, and energy consumption for aluminium production,” Holth says.
“Additionally, major players are moving forward a number of business initiatives aimed at modernising their traditional practices.”
These initiatives include the Poseidon Principles, Responsible Ship Recycling Standards, and Responsible Finance Principles for the entire finance sector, Holth continues.
“We’ve also signed a Sustainable Ocean Principles agreement in a UN Global Compact context,” she says.
For Holth, the bank’s journey to a greener future is just getting started. There’s a lot more to do.
“We have to move away from the line of thinking that the bank is only here to make money,” she explains. “We have a social responsibility and a corporate responsibility.”
Tremendous developments have been taking place on a global scale over the last 18 months, Holth says.
“There’s been a complete mood shift. No one is saying we shouldn’t contribute to the green economy anymore,” Holth continues. “We’re seeing a lot more urgency today that we were seeing 18 months ago.”
At the same time, Holth concedes that opinions and actions differ greatly around the globe.
“We in Norway have been riding the crest of the wave of economic development for many years,” she says. “We must, however, accept that there are other issues that dominate in other parts of the world.”
The cost of inaction
Kaj-Martin Georgsen is head of social responsibility at DNB. He stresses that the work is thorough and exacting—not just reactive.
“We have a loan book that is just as large as a state budget,” he says. “We’re also standing at some major crossroads. Climate, for example, is huge right now. If industry doesn’t take responsibility, then the climate crisis is going to have colossal repercussions for us—in both human and financial terms.”
A lack of action on climate change will ultimately affect profitability and the social status of businesses, Georgsen says.
“There is less room for profitable growth and profitable banking in a world that does not deal with the climate crisis we’re in the middle of,” he continues.
For his part, Georgsen is pleased that DNB, as a Norwegian bank, is slightly ahead of the curve.
“I am seeing movement starting among banks in, for example, the United States now,” he says, having just returned from meetings at the United Nations in New York City. “That’s fantastic. Where policy abdicates, industry fills in.”
What does the future hold? That remains to be seen. But, thanks to DNB and other agents of change operating in ocean industries, it appears that the breakthrough technologies and policy shifts needed to drive meaningful change are within reach.