2012 was a year of transition for us. The new management announced our Strategy 2015+. Culture change is one of the core levers of this strategy. The change program is building on the strength of the past while focusing ever more on needs of clients and partnership. Intensifying our efforts to make our business sustainable has to be an integral part of this change, and not just in the economic sense. The social and environmental dimensions have to play a vital role as well.
To effect true change will take time but the message is clear: our performance culture has to be synchronized with a culture of responsibility. We understand Corporate Responsibility as providing value with values for all our stakeholders, our clients, employees, investors and society at large. Our objective is to deliver shared value by incorporating environmental, social and governance issues throughout our businesses. At the same time, we create shared value by creating opportunities in the communities we operate in, enable their talents and foster their creativity. The traditional “philanthropically” motivated approach has shifted to an agenda targeted at building social capital.
However, we make our greatest contribution by applying our expertise and financial services as a global financial player to the needs of our clients in order to maintain and grow their businesses. We offer more than financial support. More than ever before, our employees around the world invest their time, effort, and experience to effect positive change in their local community or to help build capacities in start-up non-profit organizations.
We are aware that the expectations and interest of shareholders, clients, employees and the general public might be contradictory. This implies that we have to consider and weigh the impact of our businesses, and balance financial returns with benefits for our stakeholders and social acceptance. In 2012 some of our banking activities have again attracted criticism, including issues around food speculations, the production of cluster munitions and transactions in the energy sector. We take the concerns seriously and will adapt our governance framework and business practices wherever necessary, following dialog with stakeholder and thorough analysis of facts. For example, after a period of intensive consultation and reflection we have not found convincing evidence that the growth of agricultural-based financial products has led to either higher or more volatile prices. Therefore we have lifted our temporary halt on launching new exchange-traded products based on agricultural staples. And in the future when new products are launched, our approval process will make sure that the investment strategies which underpin our investor products do not facilitate price spikes.
To address the increasing relevance of environmental and social risks we introduced an Environmental and Social Risk Framework in 2011. The Framework is being gradually rolled out across our organization and significant progress was achieved in 2012. It involves environmental and social due diligence as integral part of the approval process for all transactions. In the initial phase of implementation, special emphasis has been placed on transactions originated in sensitive sectors such as extractive industry, agriculture, and forestry or utilities by our Corporate Banking & Securities and Global Transaction Banking divisions. Within the Framework and with the support of the Group Reputational Risk Committee, guidance was drawn up for our activities in a variety of sectors cover, for example palm oil and nuclear power. Our clients expect from us advice which is balanced with regard to risk and opportunities which serve their needs. We introduced a Responsible Business Initiative in our PBC business, setting minimum standards for products.
Asset under Management that integrates environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria remained unchanged on a high level with € 2.5 billion in 2012. This includes thematic funds in the area of climate change. We extended ESG integration in our mainstream analysis with a series of upgrades of our internal investment portal. Improvements included adding carbon ratings and a carbon reporting tool to the fixed income part of our investment portal and extended ESG ratings to the Corporate and Sovereign fixed income research platform for developed and emerging markets. We also launched the U.S. $ 100 million Global Commercial Microfinance Consortium II fund.
Our thought leadership and our responsibility as a global player coincide when it comes to actions to contain the impact of climate change. We set the target to make our operations carbon neutral (relative to the 2007 baseline) by year-end 2012. We accomplished this by the year-end of 2012. We invested in energy efficiency projects, purchased and generated on-site renewable electricity and purchased and retired UN carbon credits via the bank’s carbon trading desk for our inevitable emissions. Our broad basket of climate change related activities earned us for the first time a spot in the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index as one of 33 companies worldwide.
With a total investment of € 82.7 million in 2012 as compared to € 83.1 million in 2011, we and our foundations are again among the world’s most active corporate citizens. Our commitment focuses on education, social investments, art and music. 20,000 people (1,000 more than in 2011), representing 24 % of our employees around the world, supported community projects as Corporate Volunteers.
Corporate Responsibility includes sound performance management, remuneration practices and the respect for a diverse workforce. More information is provided on the following pages.