Let’s talk water

Walking through the buzzing corridors of Stockholm’s City Conference Centre during World Water Week, water’s importance to life and business was impossible to ignore.

Ambika Jindal portrait

By Ambika Jindal, vice president Sustainable Finance & Water Lead at ING


During the event, the news headlines were dominated by hurricane Harvey and the monsoon floods in Asia – we were constantly reminded of the awesome power of nature (and water).

ING is recognized as a water thought leader and this was reflected by our contribution to several World Water Week sessions; we were the only commercial bank included in these forward-thinking sessions.


From the sessions we participated in, a number of constant and clear messages emerged:

1. We are already suffering a water crisis and it will only worsen as the population grows, urbanisation spreads and industrial demand increases.
2. It doesn’t matter where you live or operate, this affects all of us. So, doing nothing or continuing to do business as usual is not an option.
3. Water solutions are evolving rapidly, with new opportunities, innovations and disruption constantly appearing. For example, innovative technology is increasing the utilisation of waste water, agriculture is becoming more efficient and companies are measuring and managing their water footprint better.
4. There is a lot of thought leadership in the world of water, but we all need to do more.


Water is a shared resource – its challenges must also be shared. The only effective solutions will therefore be collective in nature. Talk to us about your water ambitions.

The soundness of ING’s approach to addressing the challenges of the water crisis was confirmed by what we heard at the sessions we attended. But they also reminded us that we can always do more. To recap, we aim to:

Build. We know how to finance water utilities, waste water treatment, flood control, agriculture and “thirsty” sectors like electricity, food, beverages, paper, textile, technology, manufacturing, mining, paper. We need to build on this knowledge to become more water-wise across the bank. We also need to track our existing efforts better so we can spot opportunities to extend our reach. It’s equally important to learn what we can’t finance in the world of water and take the time to understand what doesn’t work and why not.

Talk. Sustainability is now an integral part of banking conversations at ING thanks to green bonds and a growing portfolio of green finance products like improvement loans . However, it’s time to talk more specifically about water. Our clients’ water footprint is effectively our own. We are starting to engage with clients to understand their water needs and how we can use our financing skills to help them achieve their objectives. We want to do more of this.

Connect. Being based in the Netherlands gives us easy access to world-leading water expertise. Our partnership with the Netherlands Water Partnership and recent advisory board position with OECD-World Water Council-Netherlands Roundtable on water financing will help us connect with water solution providers and other financiers to an even greater extent. We want to be part of efforts to bridge the gap between water people and finance people.

Learn. As the water world innovates, the finance world needs to keep pace. Finance traditionally only participates at the end of the process when banking support is needed: we want to get involved at a much earlier stage. By learning more about clients’ business we can help them more effectively (and potentially build a pipeline of bankable opportunities faster).


Water is a shared resource – its challenges must also be shared. The only effective solutions will therefore be collective in nature. Talk to us about your water ambitions. We want to find financial solutions and work with you to make your water dream a scalable and commercially-viable reality.

Let’s talk water.


ING contributed to the following World Water Week sessions:

OECD-WWC-Netherlands Roundtable on Financing Water, 28 August 2017
Hosted by: OECD, World Water Council (WWC), Government of the Netherlands
Keynote speakers: WWC, Ministry of Water Resources China, University of Oxford, OECD, Republic of Hungary.
ING’s role: Panellist with WWF, SEB (Swedish bank), CAF (Latin American Development Bank), The Seventh Swedish National Pension Fund


Water in the circular economy: Progress, Potential and Financing, 20 August 2017
Hosted by: International Water Association (IWA)
Keynote speakers: ING, Ellen McArthur Foundation, IWA
ING’s role: Keynote and panellist with FMO, Aqua Minerals, World Waternet, NWP, Aysa


Business Leaders’ Breakfast: Select group of C-level attendees from leading water contributors, 31 August 2017
Hosted by: World Economic Forum, High Level Panel for Water
ING’s role: Participant, only commercial bank


Where can you see ING next?
- Amsterdam International Water Week: 31 October-1 November 2017
- Oxford University’s Valuing Water for Sustainable Development: 7 November 2017

Or mail to Ambika.Jindal@ing.nl to discuss financial solutions for your water ambitions.