26 Nov 2018 Press release Sustainable Development Goals

UN Environment and 28 Banks launch public consultation on principles for responsible banking

Paris, 26 November 2018 –In a bid to define the banking industry’s role and responsibilities in shaping a sustainable future, UN Environment Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and 28 banks from around the world are launching the Principles for Responsible Banking for global public consultation today at its Global Roundtable in Paris. By committing to the new framework, banks will be aligning their business with the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement.

By developing the set of principles, the 28 founding banks set out a clear purpose for the banking industry itself, and enables investors, policy makers and regulators, clients and civil society to compare banks and hold them accountable for their environmental, social and economic impacts. Signing the Principles will be a serious commitment: banks that continuously fail to meet transparency requirements, set adequate targets and demonstrate progress will face removal from the list of signatories.

The Principles now enter a six-month global public consultation period before they will be launched in September 2019. By signing the Principles for Responsible Banking, banks will commit to being publicly accountable for their significant positive and negative social, environmental and economic impacts. They agree to set public targets on addressing their most significant negative impacts and scaling up their positive impacts to align with and contribute to national and international sustainable development and climate targets.

“The global banking industry is stepping up to the sustainability challenge. I’m optimistic we’ll see a realignment of business practice – one that embraces the fact that green and socially responsible business is the best business.” Said Satya Tripathi, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UN Environment.

“The Principles for Responsible Banking align the banking industry with the Paris Agreement and with the Sustainable Development Goals, and they demonstrate a clear commitment from the banking industry to assume its defining role in creating a sustainable future” said Christiana Figueres, convener Mission 2020 and former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “The only future that is acceptable, and profitable for everyone. Every bank should become a signatory, and all regulators, investors, policy makers and civil society should support the banking industry’s implementations of the Principles”.

Daniel Wild, Co-CEO of RobecoSAM said: “The Principles for Responsible Banking will drive the banking industry’s alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. We are integrating part of the requirements of these Principles in the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA), the leading annual survey of companies seeking to benchmark their sustainability performance and competing for membership in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). Banks that want to be best in class in the CSA and members of the DJSI should therefore seek to align with this new global standard”.

Martin Skancke, Association Board director Chair of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) said: “The PRI has helped drive the integration of environmental, social and governance considerations into investor decision-making. It is now time for the banking sector to step up in both assessing the risks they are exposed to, and the impacts of their financing activities in realising the sustainable development goals”.

Banks and stakeholders around the world are invited to provide feedback and input to guide their further development, and to signal their support by becoming Endorsers of the Principles for Responsible Banking and help shape the future of banking.



About UN Environment

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world. 

For more information, please contact:

Sally Wootton, UN Environment Finance Initiative (UNEP FI)