This paper investigates how environmental and social (E&S) risks and topics (i. e. E&S issues that are important in terms of adaptation to a changing business environment) are integrated in the banking sector. Despite banks’ key role in steering financial flows towards sustainable development, little is currently known as to whether and how banks integrate E&S aspects into their management control systems and whether this integration translates into E&S performance. Building on prior studies in the environmental management control literature, we design a conceptual model in which we link contextual factors, a proactive strategy approach, E&S management controls, and E&S performance. Following common practice in the banking sector, we differentiate between two paths of E&S management controls: risk management (value protection) and topic management (value creation). Based on survey data for a small sample of 50 European banks, we find evidence that contextual factors, reflected in the perceived power and legitimacy of clients, voluntary standard setters and NGOs, are positively related to a proactive strategy approach. This proactive strategy translates into both topic and risk management. Yet, in the next step, only topic management is positively related to the E&S performance of a bank, but not risk management.