Energy efficiency presents a huge potential to mitigate climate change while contributing to sustainable development and resource efficiency. According to the International Energy Agency, energy efficiency accounts for 49% of the measures needed to stay in line with a 2°C degrees scenario globally (and 56 % in G20 countries). It also generates multiple benefits including local jobs, increased productivity and competitiveness of companies, improvements in air quality and health, energy access and energy security. A significant scaling up of investment in energy efficiency is urgently needed to meet global objectives.

UNEP FI is engaged in cross-cutting work on energy efficiency finance, with investors and banks, steering international policy dialogues including in the G20 and with the European Commission. In parallel, UNEP FI reaches out to financial institutions, individually or through various networks, to support this developing work, give more importance to energy efficiency, and scale up their energy efficiency financing.

UNEP FI’s main areas of work on energy efficiency finance include:

  • Promotion of Energy Efficiency Finance in the G20
  • Global mobilization of investors and banks on energy efficiency
  • Policy dialogue at the European level – the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG)

UNEP FI is also a member in committees of several peer initiatives on the topic:

  • In the Advisory Committee of the project led by the European Mortgage Federation and European Covered Bond Council (EMF/ECBC) on energy efficiency mortgages,
  • In the Low Carbon Buildings Technical Working Group of the Climate Bond Initiative

Promoting Energy Efficiency Investment in the G20

The topic of energy efficiency and its financing entered the G20 agenda with the adoption of the Energy Efficiency Action Plan at the 2014 G20 Leaders Summit in Brisbane. The Internal Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC) was mandated to support the G20 energy efficiency collaboration and it coordinates a work stream dedicated to finance, the Energy Efficiency Finance Task Group (EEFTG). Co-chaired by France and Mexico, EEFTG currently counts 14 member countries and aims to create awareness on the need to scale up energy efficiency investments and put in place supportive policy environments. UNEP FI is part of the Secretariat of this working group, along with the co-Chairs, IPEEC, and Climate & Strategy Partners. As the global partnership between United Nations Environment and the financial sector, UNEP FI is a credible partner to represent the financial sector in this policy dialogue, reaching out to its members globally, as well as to peer finance networks.

EEFTG has developed ’Voluntary Energy Efficiency Investment Principles for G20 Participating Countries’, a policy framework to catalyze public and private investments in energy efficiency. These five principles were welcomed by the G20 Energy Ministers in their 2015 Communiqué. Under its G20 Presidency, China put the spotlight on energy efficiency with the proposal of new G20 energy efficiency strategy. Adopted in June 2016 by G20 countries, the Energy Efficiency Leading Program refers to the Voluntary Energy Efficiency Investment Principles, consolidating their impact. The topic of energy efficiency investment was also specifically mentioned in the 2016 Energy Communiqué.

EEFTG 2015 Activity Report

Global mobilization of financial institutions (G20, COP)

In conjunction with several partners, UNEP FI is leading a global mobilization of banks and investors committing to enhance their energy efficiency financing activities. Initiated in 2015, this mobilization gathers investors managing USD 4 trillion of assets and close to 120  banks from over 40 countries. Unprecedented in nature and scale, this initiative is promoted in the G20 process, COPs and other international platforms in order to send a strong signal on the interest and readiness of the private financial sector to scale up energy efficiency investments. It also allows to constitute a community of committed financial institutions among which to facilitate knowledge and experience sharing and disseminate of best practices to increase energy efficiency financing. For additional information and to join the mobilization, don’t hesitate to contact us at annie.degen[at]


Supported by investors managing USD 4 trillion of assets, the ‘G20 Energy Efficiency Investors Statement’ highlights six areas where investors can act to increase energy efficiency in their portfolios of investments in companies (as shareholders) and/or directly in projects. UNEP FI   partnered with CERES and the PRI for the first global mobilization on the topic.


In 2015, UNEP FI has partnered with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to reach out to commercial banks on energy efficiency. Launched at a dedicated event in Istanbul before COP21, the Statement by Financial Institutions on Energy Efficiency and has since then received the support of close to 120 banks from more than 40 countries. This sends a highly positive message from banks on the increasing relevance of energy efficiency finance for all countries to mitigate climate change and meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

Chinese banks joining the mobilization

Policy dialogue at the European level

Energy efficiency is crucial to the EU’s climate and energy strategy and provides attractive opportunities for financial institutions. Presently, however, there is largely insufficient public and private investment in energy efficiency in buildings, industry and SMEs. In 2013, UNEP FI initiated a policy/finance dialogue with the European Commission as co-convener of the Energy Efficiency Financial Institution Group (EEFIG), which gathered over 100 participants, to discuss the barriers and drivers of energy efficiency financing in buildings, industry and SMEs. The first phase of that work led to the publication of a landmark report in 2015 “Energy Efficiency – The first fuel for the EU economy” formulating key recommendations to policy makers and financial institutions, for buildings and for industry/SMEs, to overcome existing challenges and scale up energy efficiency investments across the EU. In a second phase started in 2016, the ‘Energy Efficiency De-risking Project’ was launched to develop an open source database on performance monitoring and benchmarking of energy efficiency investments. The aim of this platform is to strengthen the trust of financial institutions as well as of policy-makers in energy efficiency investment opportunities. The project also envisages to develop a common underwriting framework for energy efficiency investments.

Executive Summary of the Report
Full report: Energy Efficiency – The first fuel for the EU economy
Recording of the EEFIG webinar and slides

UNEP FI is also closely associated and supporting other follow-up work post EEFIG report:

  • At country level, in France, we participated to the one-year work on the financing of energy efficiency retrofits in residential properties, animated by Vesta Conseil and Climate Strategy & Partners, with ECF funding.
  • With banks at European level, UNEP FI brings its support and experience by participating to the Advisory Committee of the EMF-ECBC project on energy efficiency mortgages.
  • G20 Energy Efficiency Finance Task Group (EEFTG) 2016 Activity Report

    In 2016, G20 nations adopted a new long-term strategy for energy efficiency, the Energy Efficiency Leading Program, emphasizing the key role of finance. The topic was also highlighted in the Leaders Communiqué and embedded in the Synthesis Report of the G20 Green Finance Study Group. In parallel, through the mobilisation launched by UNEP FI, $4 […]

  • Global stocktaking: How banks finance energy efficiency?

    As part of the Secretariat of the G20 Energy Efficiency Finance Task Group and the only representative of the private financial sector there, UNEP FI has been leading a global mobilization on energy efficiency finance since COP 21. Currently close to 120 banks from over 40 countries have endorsed the Statement of Financial Institutions on […]

  • Five Chinese banks endorse the Energy Efficiency Finance Statement under the Chinese G20 Presidency

    Facing acute environmental challenges, China has made the greening of its economy a priority and has embraced sustainable finance with a remarkable leap in the green bond market in 2016. Energy efficiency is recognized a key measure to reduce emissions of greenhouse gas and other pollutants. In 2015, financial authorities issued credit guidelines to stimulate […]

  • Workshop in China: Enhancing Financial Flows for Energy Efficiency in the Building Sector

    Under the Chinese presidency and in the context of its work in the G20 Energy Efficiency Finance Task Group Secretariat, UNEP FI organized a workshop on Enhancing Financial Flows for Energy Efficiency in the Building Sector in China, with the support of SWITCH-Asia. Held on April 15th back to back to the G20 meeting on […]

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