Financial institutions representing a third of the global banking sector launched the Principles for Responsible Banking, an initiative led by the United Nations and representing a massive push for climate action and sustainability.
The banks pledged to strategically align their businesses with the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals, and massively expand their contribution to the achievement of both pacts.
By subscribing to the Principles, 130 banks collectively owning $ 47 trillion in assets recognized that “only in an inclusive society founded on human dignity, equality and the sustainable use of natural resources” can their clients and businesses prosper.
"The United Nations Principles for Responsible Banking are a guide for the global banking industry to respond to, drive and benefit from an economy with sustainable development," said UN Secretary General António Guterres at the event. launch, attended by the signatory organizations and more than 45 of their CEOs.
The Principles are backed by a strong implementation framework that defines clear responsibilities and requires each bank to establish, publish and work towards ambitious goals. By creating a common framework that guides banks to grow their businesses and reduce risks by supporting the economic and social transformation required for a sustainable future, the Principles pave the way for transformation to a sustainable banking industry.
“A banking industry that plans for the risks associated with climate change and other environmental challenges can not only drive the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient economies, it can also benefit from it,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Program For the enviroment.
"When the financial system shifts its capital from dirty investments, which consume resources, to those that support nature as a solution, everyone wins in the long run," he added.
While action on climate change is growing, it is still well below what is needed to meet the 1.5 ° C target of the Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, biodiversity continues to decline at alarming rates and pollution claims millions of lives each year.
More ambition, backed by a radical shift in private sector investment, is needed to address these challenges and ensure that humanity makes sustainable use of resources within planetary limits.
The banking and private sectors can benefit from the investment they make to support this transition. It is estimated that addressing the SDGs could unlock $ 12 trillion in savings and business income annually and create 380 million new jobs by 2030.
"Moving towards low-carbon and climate-resilient economies that support the goals of the Paris Agreement requires an additional investment of at least US $ 60 trillion between now and 2050," said Christiana Figueres, convener of Mission 2020, who is recognized as the architect of the Paris Agreement in her role previously as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“With the banking sector providing more than 90% of the financing in developing countries and more than two-thirds worldwide, the Principles are a crucial step in meeting the financing requirements of the world's sustainable development,” added Figueres.
About the United Nations Environment Program
UN Environment is the world's leading environmental authority. It provides leadership and encourages joint work in caring for the environment, inspiring, informing and empowering 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 other United Nations entities and international organizations around the world.
About the Principles for Responsible Banking
The Principles for Responsible Banking were developed by a core group of 30 founding banks through an innovative global partnership with the Finance Initiative of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP FI). UNEP FI is an alliance of the private sector and the United Nations to which more than 240 financial institutions from around the world belong.