Bastiaan C. J. Zoeteman (1945) is university professor for sustainable development in international perspective at Tilburg University, The Netherlands since 2000. Former positions were: chair of the Board of the European Environment Agency (2000-2003), member of the China Council on International Cooperation on Environment and Development (1992-2002) and deputy Director General for Environment at the Netherlands Ministry for Housing, Environment and Spatial Planning (1990-2012).
He is author of many articles and books, co-author of Handbook on Environmental Policy and Globalisation, 2nd edition (2012) and Sustainable Development Drivers, the role of leadership in government, business and NGO performance (2012).
Sustainability rating is rapidly maturing to a level where even the complex concept of sustainable development – including the ecological, socio-cultural and economic pillars and their components, as well as governance aspects such as attitudes – can be objectively described and quantitatively analyzed. This opens the door to reliable benchmarking of financial and other corporations, government authorities at national and municipal level and the policies and projects they initiate and operate. New key factors, such as city size and typology, that harm or foster the sustainable development of society are becoming visible. The green bonds and their impacts are good examples of the perspectives of the sustainable finance challenge.
Sustainability monitoring practices, new codes of conduct, even a banker’s oath, will be helpful in many cases to raise awareness in the sector, but are not enough to overcome the temptations in all circumstances to act in accordance with survival driven attitudes. Financial sustainability will ultimately depend on the intrinsic motivation of bankers and financial specialists in their different roles in front-office, risk & compliance and back office functions. How management can foster this culture is the real challenge of a sustainable finance sector which goes beyond adequate sustainability rating.