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The ABC of sustainability and corporate responsibility

Customers, large corporations, regulators and employees all expect SMEs to operate responsibly. A responsible company operates as sustainably as possible and takes account of the environment, social responsibility and corporate governance, as well as profitability. Sustainability and corporate responsibility encompass a number of specific terms. Read about what they mean and how significant they are for your company.


Biodiversity means the diversity of biological life, or the variety of species and ecosystems on Earth. Biodiversity, or diversity of nature, is threatened, and there are many plans underway to protect it. For example, the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) for setting joint goals and actions is being prepared under the direction of the UN.

Carbon footprint 

A carbon footprint equals the amount of carbon dioxide emissions caused by a company's operations. A company's carbon footprint includes emissions from energy consumption, logistics and waste management, for example. It can also be calculated for individual products or services.

Carbon neutral

Carbon neutrality can be achieved through environmentally friendly actions when all carbon dioxide emissions produced can be absorbed by carbon sinks. The net carbon footprint of carbon neutral activities is zero.

Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct is a document stating a company's business principles. It defines the responsible ways in which the company is to operate in different situations, such as purchasing, or how the company upholds equality and safety in the workplace.

Corporate responsibility

Corporate responsibility, responsible business operations and responsible business mean that a company takes account of the climate, environment, people and communities, and corporate governance in its business activities. A responsible company has set its own sustainable development goals, which it aims to achieve in addition to running a profitable business.

Ecological sustainability  

Ecological sustainability is achieved when emissions caused by humans do not surpass nature's capacity and endanger natural systems, like the biosphere, atmosphere, water systems or soil and bedrock. Ecological sustainability lays the foundation for achieving other sustainability goals.  

EIF guarantee facility 

An EIF guarantee facility is a risk sharing guarantee provided by the European Investment Fund. It helps SMEs to obtain financing for sustainability investments and projects. An EIF guarantee will reduce your company's need for other collateral. The EIF guarantee facility also reduces the risk borne by the financier, enabling your company to obtain financing at a lower cost. OP will apply for the risk sharing guarantee on your behalf when negotiating on financing with your company.  

Read more about the EIF risk sharing guarantee facility 

Energy efficiency  

Energy efficiency means more power obtained from the same amount of energy. Energy efficient operations bring many benefits to a company, so they are worth investing in. Increasing a company's energy efficiency reduces emissions, decreases energy costs and improves its operating result.


ESG is short for Environmental, Social and Governance. Companies report the impacts of their operations on the climate and environment (E), social responsibility (S) and corporate governance (G) through an ESG report. ESG reporting is a credible way for companies to report to their customers, partners and investors on how they take account of their ESG impacts. ESG reporting should be integrated with other corporate reporting, so that ESG factors are given the role they deserve as part of business activities and reporting.

Green loan 

A green loan is suitable for sustainability investments and projects and promotes the green transition. A financed investment or project must have significant and positive environmental impacts without causing significant harm to the environment. It can relate to, say, cleaner transportation, production of renewable energy, or energy efficient real estate or technologies.

Read more about green loans 

Green transition

What does the 'green transition' mean? It is the transition towards an ecologically more sustainable economy and growth, which are not based on fossil fuels or overconsumption of natural resources. The green transition is needed because we are currently overusing natural resources.

In practice, the green transition can mean companies investing in green energy (clean energy production), or electric cars being chosen as company cars. Governments support companies' renewable energy production initiatives through energy subsidies.

Sustainable development goals

The purpose of sustainable development is to ensure that present and future generations can live a good life. The UN Sustainable Development Goals cover 17 different goals. By pursuing these goals, your company contributes to sustainable development.


The taxonomy is a sustainable finance classification system created by the EU, which defines what kind of business operations are environmentally sustainable. It is also a type of financial market regulation and, as such, directs financiers towards achieving sustainable development goals in relation to the environment. Due to the taxonomy, companies are obligated to report on how they take sustainability risks into account, among other matters.

Value chain or supply chain 

Value chain is a chain, formed by companies, that represents the evolution of a product from raw materials to what customers eventually buy for themselves. Each company in the value chain plays an important role in manufacturing the product. Sustainability and corporate responsibility requirements placed on large corporations trickle down the value chain to SMEs. The value chain can also be called a 'supply chain'.

Sustainable finance solutions for SMEs

We will finance your company’s sustainable investments. Read more about the options we provide.