Fair Finance Germany publishes 6th annual policy assessment of German banks

25 February 2022

Banks must stop adding fuel to the fire of climate change and military conflicts

The 6th policy assessment conducted by Fair Finance Germany highlights continued shortfalls in sustainability policies in the German banking sector.

  • GLS Bank (96%), EthikBank (92%) and Triodos Bank* (87%) hold the best sustainability assessments
  • Sparda-Bank West (8%), Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf (23%) and DekaBank (27%) demonstrate the worst performance
  • Sparkasse KölnBonn (approx. +8%), DZ Bank (+7%) and Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf (+6%) show signs of improvement
  • Satisfactory performance in the case of anti-corruption measures
  • Insufficient gender guidelines for internal banking operations as well as for financings and investments by most banks
  • Conventional banks often continue to invest in controversial business models (armaments, coal, human rights violations, etc.)

For the sixth time, the Fair Finance Guide Germany (FFG), coordinated by the Berlin-based NGO Facing Finance, has run a policy assessment to ascertain if and how German banks and savings banks are taking human and environmental rights into account. In cooperation with the SÜDWIND Institute and the Bremen Consumer Advice Center and based on 275 criteria from 14 selected themes and sectors, FFG examines the commitments published by 18 financial institutions in terms of their compliance with international sustainability standards. The topics of climate change, corruption, gender equality, human rights, labor rights, nature, taxes, armaments as well as transparency were included in the examination.

“More and more customers are looking for a financial service provider that prioritizes sustainability. Against this background, it is important that there are independent and consumer-oriented rankings that make such developments transparent," says Christiane Overkamp, ​​Managing Director of the Environment and Development Foundation North Rhine-Westphalia, which supports the Fair Finance Guide Germany with a focus on the North Rhine-Westphalia area.

The sustainability banks GLS Bank (96%), EthikBank (92%) and Triodos Bank* (87%) continue to hold the best ratings, as do the church banks KD-Bank (82%) and Pax-Bank (85%) from Cologne, which also reach the green zone again (80% +). The newly assessed Sparda-Bank West (8%) and DekaBank (27%), as well as Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf (23%), occupy the last places in the ranking of the Fair Finance Guide.

The aim of the Fair Finance Guide is to create more transparency and comparability for bank customers with regard to the social and ecological balance sheet of German banks and to improve, through dialogue, their guidelines.

"An intensive and constructive dialogue with banks is indispensable, as this is the only way that we, as civil society, can counteract regulatory deficits and convince banks to make their investment and financing decisions more sustainable in the long run," says Kleopatra Partalidou, Project Coordinator of the Fair Finance Guide.

"Banks must stop adding fuel to the fire of climate change and military conflicts," demands Thomas Küchenmeister, Executive Director of the NGO Facing Finance, which coordinates the Fair Finance Guide. "As long as the EU taxonomy classifies nuclear power and gas as sustainable and arms exports, especially to belligerent states, are not even included in the taxonomy as unsustainable, comprehensive commitments, especially from conventional banks, will be necessary," adds Küchenmeister. Following random checks, the most controversial financial relationships could be identified for Deutsche Bank (56), Commerzbank (24) and DekaBank (33). These relationships include armaments and coal companies, lithium producers with controversial activities, but also the company Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone, which indirectly contributed to funding the Myanmar military.

Since 2022, German companies have been obliged by the Supply Chain Act to comply with and enforce human and labor rights in their supply chains, including investments. However, the weak performance of many banks in these areas shows that these banks are not yet assuming their responsibility,” says Uli Lohr from the SÜDWIND Institute.

"Since the change towards a sustainable society and economy is becoming more and more urgent for all consumers, we would like to see a greater improvement from the conventional credit institutions occupying the middle and bottom places," adds Dr. Annabel Oelmann, board member of the Bremen Consumer Advice Center.

The results as well as the reactions of the banks to the assessment conducted by the Fair Finance Guide are available in German here.



The review of banks by the Fair Finance Guide Germany with a focus on North Rhine-Westphalia was supported by the North Rhine-Westphalia Environment and Development Foundation and the Swedish development agency Sida.


* ING and Triodos Bank are headquartered in the Netherlands. Our Dutch partner organizations (eerlijkegeldwijzer.nl) are responsible for the communication with and assessment of these financial institutions. The last update took place in September 2020.


If you have any questions, please contact:

Thomas Küchenmeister
Managing Director Facing Finance

e.V.Tel+49 (0)175-4964082