The Principles for Responsible Banking public consultation launch: have your say on the future of banking

26 November 2018

Today at its Global Roundtable in Paris, UN Environment Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and 28 banks from around the world launched the Principles for Responsible Banking for public consultation. Together the banks represent over USD 17 trillion in combined assets, and CEOs from 10 of the banks are attending the launch.

The Principles will define the banking industry’s role and responsibilities in shaping a sustainable future. 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.

The Principles set the global standard for what it means to be a responsible bank and will ensure that banks create value for both their shareholders and society. They provide the first global framework that guides the integration of sustainability across all business areas of a bank, from strategic to portfolio to transaction level. By signing the Principles for Responsible Banking when they are launched in September 2019, 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.

By developing the set of principles, the 28 founding banks set out a clear purpose for the banking industry itself, and also enable investors, policy makers and regulators, clients and civil society to compare banks and hold them accountable for their environmental, social and economic impacts and their contribution to society’s goals. 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.

Signing the Principles for Responsible Banking is something that all banks that are genuinely committed to sustainability should consider, regardless of their starting point. With differentiated requirements for starter, intermediate and advanced banks on sustainability integration and detailed implementation guidance they provide an entry point for early stage banks while creating a race to the top among those most advanced.

The Principles are now entering a six-month global public consultation period before they will be signed by banks from around the world at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2019. 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.

Satya Tripathi, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UN Environnment said, “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.”

Christiana Figueres, convener Mission 2020 and former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), urges banks to join the initiative, stating: “The Principles for Responsible Banking align the banking industry with the Paris Agreement and with the Sustainable Development Goals, they are frankly long overdue, and they demonstrate a clear commitment from the banking industry to assume its defining role in creating a sustainable future. 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 as it adopts and implements the Principles for Responsible Banking”.

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 have 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”.

The 28 founding banks developing the Principles for Responsible Banking are from five continents and over 20 countries:

Access Bank (Nigeria), Arab African International Bank (AAIB) (Egypt), Banco Pichincha (Ecuador), Banorte (Mexico), Barclays (United Kingdom), BBVA (Spain), BNP Paribas (France), Bradesco (Brazil), Commercial International Bank (CIB) (Egypt), CIMB Bank (Malaysia), First Rand (South Africa), Garanti Bank (Turkey), Golomt Bank (Mongolia), Hana Financial Group (South Korea), Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) (China), ING (Netherlands), Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Group (Kenya), Land Bank (South Africa), National Australia Bank (NAB) (Australia), Nordea (Sweden), Piraeus Bank (Greece), Santander (Spain), Shinhan Financial Group (South Korea), Societe Generale (France), Standard Bank (South Africa), Triodos Bank (Netherlands), Westpac (Australia), YES Bank (India)

To find out how you can take part in the global public consultation, click here.

Read the press release here.

Testimonials from Founding Bank CEOs and Leaders:

“There is a greater need now, more than ever, to mainstream sustainability in the global financial sector. This is therefore the right time to launch the Principles for Responsible Banking. At Access Bank, we are committed to setting standards and engendering innovative solutions that address social, economic and environmental challenges. We believe that the Sustainable Development Goals will be better achieved if we can work together, using these Principles as a guide.”

Herbert Wigwe

CEO, Access Bank

“The current environmental and social issues pose a multitude of opportunities and threats for financial institutions. Banks can either seize the opportunities and grow, or ignore the threats and go under. The Principles for Responsible Banking allow banks to generate new revenue streams by genuinely connecting to the environment and the society.”

Hassan Abdalla

CEO, Arab African International Bank

“For a long time Banorte has been engaged in local and international initiatives in the social, environmental and governance dimensions. To participate as founders of the Principles for Responsible Banking represents an opportunity to enhance the impact of our operations in society and to contribute to a more sustainable future, while generating value for all our stakeholders.”

Marcos Ramirez Miguel

CEO, Banorte Financial Group

“Barclays has been a member of the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative for more than 20 years and we’re proud to be part of the core group of 28 banks developing the Principles for Responsible Banking. Barclays exists to help develop sustainable economies and to empower people to build better futures. We are committed to playing our part to deliver the SDGs and we do this by helping our clients to raise billions of dollars of social and environmental financing, upskilling millions of people and helping to drive job creation.”

Jes Staley

Group CEO, Barclays PLC

“Banks must be purpose-driven organizations. With the Principles for Responsible Banking we are redefining the role of banking in society to have a positive impact in people’s lives. BBVA’s purpose is to bring the age of opportunity to everyone. We believe that the Principles are very aligned with our strategy and that will help us to reinforce our commitment to sustainable development.”

Carlos Torres Vila

CEO, BBVA

“Finance in its very nature is forward looking, and we must make sure that it works not only for profit but also for the future of the people and the planet. The framework set out by the UNEP FI in its Principles for Responsible Banking will enable us to move collectively in that direction.”

Jean-Laurent Bonnafé

CEO, BNP Paribas

“We want to constantly advance towards becoming a reference of good practice and innovation, multiplying the positive impact on society and influencing the financial market in order to fulfil, with increasing efficiency, its role of supporting and encouraging sustainable development.”

Octavio de Lazari Junior

CEO, Bradesco

“For years, CIB has worked to provide sustainable capital to help our clients grow, give back to the communities in which we live and work, and incite actionable change as it relates to environmental business practices. We believe it is critical that banks with a long track record of inciting change work together to create actionable and strategic frameworks, like the global Principles for Responsible Banking, to instigate that change from the top down.”

Mr. Mohamed Sultan

COO, Commercial International Bank – Egypt (CIB)

“CIMB has always emphasised value creation which requires a delicate balancing of the long-term interests of our people, planet and profitability. To that end, we are pleased to commit to the UNEP FI objectives to champion responsible banking and help transform global banking practices. We firmly believe that as an industry that plays an instrumental role in economic growth and global trade, together banks could be a powerful force for change, to create a huge positive impact not just economically, but also socially and environmentally.”

Tengku Zafrul Aziz

Group CEO, CIMB Group

“To date, we strived to pave the way for doing better business for society through introducing many firsts to our market. The new Principles for Responsible Banking will guide us in building on what we achieved so far and allow banks to credibly showcase their concrete actions in building a better world.”

Ali Fuat Erbil

President & CEO, Garanti Bank

“For Golomt Bank it is a privilege having become an active member of UNEP FI and actively work alongside leading global banks to foster sustainable engagement in Mongolia and positively influence other banks, communities and our customers. We recognize our responsibility towards society and the importance of enabling and providing opportunities to be more environmentally conscious.”

Ganzorig Ulziibayar

CEO, Golomt Bank

“Hana Financial Group (HFG) declared its commitment to fully respond to the requirements and changes of our time to fulfill corporate social responsibility. Our ultimate goal is to pursue the growth of all stakeholders for the betterment of our society and to meet our social responsibility in a balanced manner. We at HFG endorse the Principles for Responsible Banking as a global corporate citizen as well.”

Kim Jung-Tai

CEO, Hana Financial Group

“As one of the founding banks of “Principles for Responsible Banking”, ICBC will continue to make ceaseless efforts for sustainable economic and social development, and contribute to achieving society’s goals as expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.”

Shu Gu

President, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

“The Principles for Responsible Banking articulate a common language in responsible banking practices worldwide. It gives banks a shared foundation on which to build a sustainable future.”

Ralph Hamers

CEO, ING Group

“We believe responsible business is about establishing and nurturing the foundation of growth for the next generations. To succeed, banks need to bring their written policies into action through strategy for creating long-term value through sustainable banking. KCB Group believes that these principles will create a path towards achieving sustainable financial success and widen the door to financial freedom.”

Joshua N. Oigara

CEO, KCB Group

“By joining forces as a global banking sector to develop, implement and embed a set of Responsible Banking Principles that guide how we operate, we are able to shape the future we all want by acting to responsibly address the expectations of society now. Land Bank is looking forward to both contributing to and sharing in the expertise and experience of this global group as we guide the sector towards a smarter and more measurable framework.”

TP Nchocho

CEO, Land Bank

“Through our products and services, we want to contribute to the transition to a low carbon economy and society’s goals, as expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement and the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It is about mitigating risks, improving resilience and creating opportunities for a better society. Together we are on a journey towards a sustainable future.”

Casper von Koskull

CEO, Nordea

“These Principles resonate with the values of Piraeus Bank and strengthen the organization’s culture, founded on accountability, meritocracy and transparency. We endorse the Principles, because we believe that responsible relations with our customers, shareholders, employees and society at large give us a competitive advantage in building trust, supporting sustainable development and restarting the Greek economy.”

 Christos Megalou

CEO, Piraeus Bank

“Responsible banking is not a new concept — but the Principles for Responsible Banking acknowledge how important a concept it is, especially today. Because banking can only fulfil its purpose — creating financial empowerment, jobs and economic growth — if it treats customers, shareholders and society with the respect they deserve. This is profit with purpose; this is the heart of responsibility.”

Ana Botin

Executive Chairman, Santander Group

“To be a responsible financial group that grows and develops with society, Shinhan Financial Group has been implementing our mission of “Compassionate Finance, Your Companion for the Future”. The Principles for Responsible Banking allow us to disseminate integrated thinking that makes positive impacts on our society and environment.”

Cho Yong-byoung

CEO, Shinhan Financial Group

“The role of banking is about building the future. We are committed to the positive transformations of our economies and societies. We welcome collective approaches and best practice frameworks such as the Principles for Responsible Banking to pave the way for a positive impact together with our stakeholders.”

Frédéric Oudéa

CEO, Societe Generale

“As a leading bank on the continent, with operations in 20 African countries, we support the development of the UNEPFI Principles for Responsible Banking. These global Principles encourage banks to think hard about our wider impacts – both negative and positive – on the societies and environments in which we live and work, and to integrate this thinking into our decision-making.”

Simphiwe Tshabalala

CEO, Standard Bank Group

“The financial sector is in a very good position to contribute to a sustainable world. Given the magnitude of the global challenges, a global initiative such as the UNEP FI Principles for Responsible Banking is important to achieve a systemic change. They are an important milestone to accelerate the journey of banks towards a sustainable business model and they provide a good roadmap. We call on all banks to endorse and sign up for the Principles.”

Peter Blom

CEO, Triodos Bank

“Westpac is proud to have been a founding member of UNEP FI and Equator Principles – being at the front end of creating positive impact through banking. We pride ourselves on long being recognised for taking action on sustainability issues and that’s why we are so proud to be supporting the development of the Principles for Responsible Banking – reinforcing our commitment to the Paris Agreement and the UN SDGs that sit at the heart of our 2020 Sustainability Strategy.”

Brian Hartzer

CEO, Westpac Group

“New age banks like YES BANK are paving the way towards a new economic system, geared towards sustainable growth. YES BANK has been mainstreaming its ethos of responsible banking by driving to market, innovative sustainable finance products that positively impact Sustainable Development Goals. The robust roadmap created by the six Principles for Responsible Banking, developed jointly by UNEP FI, YES BANK and 27 other global banks, will certainly enable the global banking sector to change its approach from maximizing profits to optimizing it, and to align future growth to sustainable development.”

Namita Vikas

Group President & Global Head, Climate Strategy & Responsible Banking, YES Bank