Banco Santander






Santander Group City
Av. de Cantabria
28660 Boadilla del Monte
Madrid, Spain

Tel: +34(09)12-89-0000
Fax: +32 (09)17-59-4836






Elisa Moscolin


  • Best Bank for Diversity and Inclusion’ award in Euromoney



Report created by Sonria Willis

Banco Santander

SECTIONS :  Sustainability •  Targets    Evaluation   •  Key Points  •  Overview


Company Activity

Banco Santander is a Spanish multinational financial services company based in Madrid and Santander, Spain. The company’s main line of business is based on retail banking, though it also works in Global Wholesale banking and in Asset Management and Private Banking. Retail Banking composes around 84% of the company’s operations.

Santander maintains a presence in all global financial centres as the 16th-largest banking institution in the world. Although known for its European banking operations, it has extended operations across North and South America, and more recently in continental Asia. 

As of 2017, Santander is the 4th largest bank in Europe with approximately US$1.4 trillion in total assets-under-management. 

Traded on the Euro Stoxx 50 stock market index, the bank has a total market capitalization of $69.9 billion — ranked 37th in the Forbes Global 2000 list of the world’s biggest public companies.

Company Sustainability Activity

Banco Santander states they are committed to make progress towards the targets set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change and have joined the UN Collective Commitment to Climate Action. Santander has outlined steps to achieve net zero carbon emission across the Group by 2050 by setting decarbonization targets such as its goal of having 100% of its electricity sourced by renewable energy.

In order to support sustainable growth, the group has set three main lines of action: (1) Align its portfolio to meet the Paris Agreement goals; (2) Support its clients in the green transition; and (3) Reduce its environmental impact. 

To achieve its sustainability goals outlined in its action plan, Santander has created an ESG solutions team, a sustainable finance working group aimed at improving key insights on four areas: green buildings, clean mobility, renewables and sustainable agriculture. Additionally, the group has launched the “Climate Dialogues” programme for senior managers to discuss critical climate-related topics with experts — holding three sessions in 2020. 

Banco Santander has developed an internal Green Book compiling all the green features of its products, as well as an internal classification system to identify ESG in general purpose lending. The bank has identified that 21% of their portfolio comprises renewables, which they specify is six percentage points higher than the corporate economy’s average. Moreover, Banco Santander’s renewable energy project finance portfolio totalled 11.6 billion.

To monitor its suppliers, Banco Santander has a comprehensive third-party certification policy which includes ESG factors such as diversity and inclusion, human rights, and sustainability. In 2020, the group launched two pilot initiatives to assess ESG performance: assessing ESG criteria in third-party onboarding as well as assessing these in third-party negotiations. They have so far assessed 400 on-boarding suppliers and have certified an additional 21.8% if their current suppliers in 2020.

In 2019, the group created a Global Sustainable Bonds Framework and a Global Green Bonds Framework in line with the 2018 Green and Social Bond Principles. 

The Group is involved in a number of local and international sustainability initiatives and working groups including:

Santander has hosted panels related to sustainability to raise awareness among its customers and investor network. It has already hosted three conferences between January and February 2021.


  • 100% of energy used in its buildings in Germany, Spain, Portugal and the UK is renewable
  • Released first reports for the UNEP FI Collective Commitment on Climate Action
  • Issued its second €1 billion green bond, which will be used to finance renewable wind and solar power
  • 57% of its electricity supply comes from renewable energies
  • LEED certified in thirteen buildings
  • #Plasticfree project, aiming to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastics in its offices and buildings in 2021, achieved 98% reduction goal


  • Raise and facilitate the mobilization of €120bn in green finance between 2019 and 2025
  • 40% to 60% women on board by 2021
  • 30% senior leadership positions occupied by women by 2025
  • 0% Equal pay gap by 2025
  • 100% electricity used from renewable energy sources in 2025 (target of 60% for 2021)
  • Becoming carbon neutral in operations
  • 100% reduction of unnecessary single-use plastics in corporate buildings and branches by 2021
  • 200k Scholarships, internships and entrepreneurship programs in 2021


  • Raised (or facilitated) €33.8 bn in green finance
  • 40% board are women
  • 23.7% of senior leadership positions are occupied by women in 2020
  • Reduced equal pay gap to 1.5%
  • 57% of electricity used from renewable energy sources
  • Became carbon neutral in its operations 
  • Reduced unnecessary single-use plastics by 98%
  • Offered 225k scholarships, internships and entrepreneurship programmes


UN Sustainable Development Goals

UN SDGs Compliance

SDG 1: No Poverty

  • Piloted a Specialist Support Team with 7,500 branch colleagues to help vulnerable customers and those with complex needs

SDG 4: Quality Education

  • Their Scholarship Program provided 48,804 scholarships to students 
  • Allocated €110 million to universities
  • Santander Universities program, Fundación Universia, has offered 619 scholarships to students with disabilities, also placing 70 individuals with disabilities in companies

SDG 5: Gender Equality

  • 40% of board members are women
  • 23.7% of senior leadership positions are occupied by women as of 2020
  • Reduced equal pay gap to 1.5%

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

  • Issued a €1 billion green bond to fund wind and solar power projects

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

  • Supported over 7,900 small businesses and start-ups through the Breakthrough Program, including subsidized interns through the Santander Universities scheme, and provided £20.7m of growth capital financing

SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

  • New 5 year Diversity and Inclusion strategy raises awareness and introduces new enablers to cultivate an inclusive workforce

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

  • Provided €94 million in community investment 

SDG 13: Climate Action

  • Has achieved carbon neutrality
  • Helped finance greenfield renewable energy projects with a total installed capacity of 13,765 MW

SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

  • Corporate culture policy was approved by all local boards in 2020

SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

  • Many local and international partnerships (e.g. Amazon Plan, Fundación Universia)
  • 2,366 partnerships with NGOs and social welfare institutions


Banco Santander states that it is committed to the Paris Agreement and the UN SDGs and has set out clear and measurable lines of action. These goals aim to improve the bank’s internal operations by setting decarbonization targets to lower its carbon footprint but also aims to improve the bank’s sustainability portfolio by assessing its clients on their environmental impact.

Specifically, Banco Santander has been keen on aligning its objectives with the UN SDGs by referencing SDGs in their progress and targets. 

While Santander has not received many ESG or sustainability awards according to its report, the group has made the rankings of several note-worthy listings, such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, where it scored a total score of 86, the highest in the industry for the year 2019.

It has also made rankings for an excellent working environment and commitment to gender equality.

Santander has thirteen LEED-certified buildings (three Platinum and ten gold) and ISO 14001 building certifications in several countries. The bank also states it enforces third-party certification assessments for its current and onboarding suppliers to ensure they are complying with human rights and environmental sustainability standards.

Despite Santander’s strong initiatives towards sustainability, the bank has invested a total of $34.036 B to the fossil fuel industry since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2016. Santander has steadily increased its investments in the industry since 2018.

Santander has been rated a C.

Analyst Outlook: Neutral

In light of the numerous partnerships it has with local and international organizations such as Santander Cycles, the Amazon Plan, or its supply chain sustainability programme with Tesco (see Key Points section and Company Sustainability Section), Santander has proven that it is committed to helping grow sustainability practices in local and international economies.

However, its investments in the fossil fuel industry cannot be ignored. If the bank chooses to reassess its relationship with oil and gas, Santander could receive a higher rating on the Impakter Index.


Key Points

  • Santander Cycles: seven-year partnership with Transport for London to grow and develop London’s Cycle Hire scheme
    • A deal of £43.75 million, it is the largest public-sector sponsorship in the world 
  • Launched a new partnership with Alzheimer’s Society aiming to make Santander digital banking services dementia friendly
  • Programme with supermarket chain, Tesco to offer sustainability-linked supply chain finance
Share this Post