Businesses are increasingly required to demonstrate sound understanding and good practice around human rights standards and wider social issues, both in managing their risks and impacts, and as an indicator of good corporate responsibility.

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, unanimously endorsed by the Human Rights Council in 2011, emphasize that while governments have a duty to protect human rights, business enterprises have a responsibility to respect human rights. The Sustainable Development Goals also have as core aim to “realize the human rights of all”, encompassing civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development. At the same time, they strive to reduce inequality, promote equity and inclusion. ‘Human rights and equity’ are one of the four principles underpinning UN Environment approach to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Since 2006, UNEP FI has been exploring the intricacies between human rights and the finance sector. UNEP FI aims to de-mystify the jargon surrounding the social agenda, and clarify how human rights and wider social issues relate to the activities of finance institutions. To date, work has focused on creating dialogue around finance and human rights and developing guidance for financial institutions on how to address their human rights impacts. Increasingly, the work will expand into highlighting and consolidating the linkages between the environment and human rights issues in promoting a sustainable finance approach, as well as addressing social risks and opportunities in a holistic manner. This will include promoting equity and inclusion as a strong component of the green economy.


Sabina Timco Iacazzi

  • UNEP FI shapes its strategy on social issues

    Building on ten years of efforts to advance the finance and human rights agenda with its members, UNEP FI is now strengthening its social issues approach to mainstream human rights across UNEP FI industry and thematic activities, enhance guidance for finance practitioners on human rights risks and enhance synergies with peer initiatives to maximize impact. […]

  • Users feedback wanted on UNEP FI Guidance Tool on Human Rights

    The online Guidance Tool on Human Rights for the Finance Sector is UNEP FI’s trusted tool to assist lenders in enhancing their understanding of human rights risks. In an effort to improve the user-friendliness of the tool, UNEP FI is inviting members and concerned parties to contact the Secretariat with feedback on user experience.  

  • 2016 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights: Key Messages from UNEP FI

    UNEP FI shares its report with takeaways from the 2016 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, which took place in Geneva on 14-16th November. The Forum tackled the role of finance with regard to human rights as one of its focus topics, under the global theme ‘Leadership and Leverage: Embedding human rights in the rules […]

  • UNEP FI – Foley Hoag LLP research paper contributes to a better understanding of banking and human rights

    Foley Hoag LLP and UNEP FI collaborated on a research paper offering a legal analysis of the current banking and human rights landscape. The paper provides an overview of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and explores their implications for the banking sector. It examines both hard law and soft law […]