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BankTrack was founded in 2003, although its roots go back some years further. This page traces our roots and outlines some of the key events in our history. For more detail of our work in each year, see our archive of Annual Reports here.
The Fossil Banks, No Thanks! website is relaunched as a platform for civil society organisations campaigning to stop fossil fuel finance. Eleven banks announce they will not finance the East African Crude Oil Pipeline following BankTrack campaigning.
The Coronavirus pandemic hits, with lockdowns bringing life to a virtual standstill. We publish the Banking on Climate Change 2020 report with civil society partners, as well as publishing a new tool for assessing bank policies. We also published two reports, Trust Us We're Equator Banks, Part I and Part II, exposing how projects financed under the Equator Principles failing to show compliance. Banks begin publishing “Paris Alignment” policies on climate change.
The OECD complaint against ING launched in 2017 leads to a landmark ruling that banks must publish climate targets. BankTrack publishes its third Human Rights Benchmark, reporting and ranking human rights policies of 50 commercial banks, as well as a briefing paper, We are unable to comment on specific customers..., that challenges banks on client confidentiality. The Principles for Responsible Banking (PRBs) are launched, and BankTrack begins tracking implementation of the new Principles. Bank AGM season sees widespread protest from "Fossil Banks, No Thanks" campaigners.
ETP's claim against BankTrack is thrown out of court in a victory for common sense and a strong rebuke to the tactic of SLAPP suits. BankTrack publishes Developing Effective Grievance Mechanisms in the Banking Sector with Oxfam Australia to encourage accountability and remedy. The Fossil Banks, No Thanks! campaign is launched, with hundreds of organisations joining BankTrack’s call on banks to stop financing the fossil fuel industry.
Over 700,000 people worldwide sign petitions demanding banks stop financing the Dakota Access Pipeline. Several banks subsequently step away from the project, although too late to stop it proceeding. Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, files a SLAPP lawsuit against BankTrack and others. BankTrack files a motion to dismiss. BankTrack launches Banks vs. the Paris Agreement, exposing bank finance for companies developing new coal plants.
BankTrack launches the Equator Banks, Act! campaign, calling for an update of the Equator Principles which ends financing for new fossil fuel projects and fully respects Indigenous Peoples’ rights and territories. In response, the Equator Principles commit to a new update (EP4).
Following the brutal murder of Honduran Indigenous rights activist Berta Caceres, BankTrack takes the lead in convening an ad-hoc NGO coalition that pushes for the Dutch development bank FMO to abandon the Agua Zarca project, opposed by Berta's organisation COPINH. FMO then announces its withdrawal from the project.
BankTrack organises the first International Bank Campaigners’ Gathering, convening over fifty campaigners from twenty countries for a three day training and strategy session.
At the start of the year, BankTrack reinvents itself as an independent tracking, campaigning and NGO support organisation and dissolves its formal network structure. The landmark Paris Agreement is signed, 21 smaller ethical banks sign BankTrack’s Paris Pledge to quit coal, and nine international banks take their first steps away from financing the industry.
BankTrack launches its first human rights benchmark, Banking with Principles?. On the climate front, we launch a new website, coalbanks.org, exposing private sector bank financing for the coal industry. Following a training meeting with the European Environmental Paper Network, we launch a new workstream focused on bank financing for palm oil and pulp & paper.
At the end of the year, we begin an extensive internal discussion with our members on how BankTrack can best adapt itself to changing circumstances in both funder support and NGO cooperation. The result is a plan, “BankTrack 2015”, that sets out a new course for the future.
BankTrack holds its strategy meeting at the imposing castle of Diez, Germany. Five new organisations join the network.
The "Building BankTrack in BRICs" project sees BankTrack conduct training sessions to build NGO capacity for tracking banks in Brazil, China and Russia. BankTrack comments on the draft Equator Principles update (EPIII) in a report, Tiny Steps Forward. During the Rio+20 climate conference, BankTrack issues a highly critical statement on the Natural Capital Declaration. Our first human rights campaigner joins the team.
The first Bankrolling Climate Change report is released during the Durban Climate Change Conference, revealing the top 20 “climate killer” banks. BankTrack makes its submission to the Equator Principles update process which will lead to EPIII, The Outside Job.
BankTrack holds a strategy meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, and launches an open letter signed by over 100 civil society organizations urging Equator Principles banks to take ‘bold steps forward'. We launch a new website on nuclear energy and banks, as well as the research report Close the Gap, in which the policies of 49 internationally operating banks are scored. Our first climate coordinator joins the team.
BankTrack publishes A Challenging Climate, its first major report on climate change, which calls on banks to “take steps to disentangle themselves from activities and projects that substantially contribute to climate change” and end support for new coal, oil and gas extraction projects and coal power plans.
The BankTrack secretariat moves its offices from Utrecht to Nijmegen, the Netherlands. BankTrack holds a strategy meeting with its members in El Escorial, Spain.
The BankTrack network expands from 14 groups to 20. We publish our first position paper on human rights, Human Rights - Banking Risks, as well as Mind the Gap, a major report on the credit policies of international banks.
BankTrack becomes increasingly visible as NGO vehicle for targeting Dodgy Deal bank investments, introducing the concept as such on our website. We organise a number of meetings between NGOs and Equator Principles banks.
BankTrack holds its first formal network meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, and the secretariat opens its office in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Twelve civil society organizations publicly launch BankTrack as a network at the World Economic Forum in Davos. We publish our 1st anniversary assessment of the Equator Principles.
The Collevecchio Declaration is launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, with the support of over 100 civil society organisations. It is to become BankTrack’s founding document. The Quantum Leap project merges with the Netherlands-based Focus on Finance project, coordinated by Dutch consultant firm AIDEnvironment. After a meeting of finance campaigners in Bakkum, the Netherlands, Focus on Finance is remodelled as an NGO network with an advocacy mission. The network that will become BankTrack is born.
Ten major banks launch the Equator Principles.
NGO campaigners meet in the Italian village of Collevecchio to draft the first civil society statement on the role of financial sector and sustainability.
Private sector banks increasingly begin to feel pressure from civil society. NGOs start highly visible campaigns on projects co-financed by these banks, including the OCP pipeline in Ecuador, the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline, the Camisea gas project in Peru and the financing of oil palm plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia.
The Quantum Leap project conducts training in three continents.
US activists identify a need to focus on private sector financial institutions in addition to development banks like the World Bank. Friends of the Earth US and the US National Wildlife Federation set up the Quantum Leap project to train campaigners to become financially literate and influence private sector banks. The project's newsletter 'The Bull and the Bear' informs the financial sector on civil society concerns.