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Energy Efficiency



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 banks’ financing of energy efficiency.

Under China’s G20 Presidency, G20 nations have adopted a new long term strategy to catalyze energy efficiency and its financing. In this context, five Chinese banks (Industrial Bank, ICBC, Bank of Jiangsu, Agricultural Development Bank of China and Huaxia Bank) have joined the global mobilization of over 115 banks led by UNEP FI and EBRD and promoted by the G20 Energy Efficiency Finance Task Group. This unique initiative was presented to G20 delegates in Beijing in June 2016, sending a strong message to policy makers on the readiness of the banking sector to scale-up energy efficiency financing and the need for supportive and investment-enabling policies.

UNEP FI and partners mobilize over 140 financial institutions to scale up global investment in energy efficiency

The unprecedented mobilization of over 100 banks from 42 countries and investors managing close to USD 4 trillion supporting two specific Statements to increase energy efficiency finance was presented at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. It highlights the fast growing awareness of the relevance of energy efficiency to remain under a 2°C Scenario, while also serving sustainable development goals.

The topic is relevant for all countries, and benefits from the first G20 dedicated work led by the G20 Energy Efficiency Finance Task Group which proposed investment principles for countries to provide more investment-enabling conditions that were welcomed by the G20 energy ministers. Committed to promote the topic over the last 3 years, UNEP FI has joined forces with other initiatives to enable the broadest mobilization of financial institutions and bring their positive contribution to the COP and G20.

Presentation of the mobilization of financial institutions to scale-up energy efficiency finance at the COP Building Day


Energy efficiency presents a huge potential to meet some of the challenges linked to sustainable development and climate change. According to the International Energy Agency, increasing energy efficiency accounts for 49% of the measures needed to achieve the emission peak globally and meet the +2 degrees target. Energy efficiency is also relevant for sustainable economic development and offers multiple benefits including local job creation, increased productivity and competitiveness for companies, reduction of pollution, improvements in health, energy access and energy security. A significant scaling up of global investment in energy efficiency is urgently needed.

UNEP FI has engaged in cross-cutting work on energy efficiency finance, with investors and banks, through several international policy dialogues and initiatives. The policy/finance work on energy efficiency was initiated in 2013 when UNEP FI co-created and co-convened the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group with the European Commission, taking advantage of an ambitious European Union Energy Efficiency Directive in 2012, and the willingness of the UNEP FI Property Working Group members to contribute to such policy work. The aim was to tackle systemic issues, contribute to an investment-enabling environment and the scale up of investments, while discussing the issues of both supply and demand for energy efficiency finance. Building on this, UNEP FI began working at global level in 2014. UNEP FI is now part of the Secretariat of the G20 work stream dedicated to energy efficiency finance, the G20 Energy Efficiency Finance Task Group (EEFTG).

In parallel to the international collaboration work between countries, UNEP FI is reaching out to investors and banks, as individual institutions or through various networks, in an open and collaborative fashion, for them to support this developing work, give increased importance to energy efficiency, and commit to scale up its financing, on the road to the G20 Summits, COPs and beyond.

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


Promoting Energy Efficiency Investment in the G20 Agenda

Energy efficiency was put on the G20 agenda under the Australian presidency 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 coordinate six work streams to support its implementation, including one dedicated to finance, the Energy Efficiency Finance Task Group (EEFTG). The EEFTG is co-chaired by France and Mexico and counts 14 countries amongst its members. UNEP FI is part of the Secretariat of this three-year working group, along with the co-Chairs, IPEEC, and Climate & Strategy Partners.

The goal of this work is to create visibility and awareness about energy efficiency, and its critical economic, developmental and environmental benefits for G20 countries. EEFTG works both at policy and finance levels to remove common barriers and promote international cooperation to enhance capital flows to energy efficiency investments. As the global partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme 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.

In 2015, EEFTG conducted five multi-stakeholder consultations in key geographies which resulted in the development of the Energy Efficiency Investment Principles, a policy framework for countries aiming to enable a scaling up of public and private investments in energy efficiency. These five principles were welcomed by the G20 Energy Ministers in their Communiqué as ‘Voluntary Energy Efficiency Investment Principles for G20 participating countries’.

In 2016, under the Chinese G20 presidency, a new mid-to-long term energy efficiency strategy was adopted by G20 nations, the Energy Efficiency Leading Program. The importance of investments and financing is embedded in this strategy which refers directly to the Voluntary Energy Efficiency Investment Principles, consolidating their legitimacy in the G20. Finance is also well reflected in the 2016 Energy Communiqué.

Additional documents

Global mobilization of financial institutions (G20, COP)

In conjunction with several partners, UNEP FI is leading a global mobilization of financial institutions committing to enhance their energy efficiency financing activities. Initiated in 2015, this mobilization gathers over 115 banks from more than 40 countries on one hand, and 40 investors jointly managing close to USD 4 trillion of assets on the other hand which have supported two distinct statements on energy efficiency. Unprecedented in its nature and its 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. The Statements also allows to constitute a community of committed financial institutions among which to facilitate knowledge and experience sharing on energy efficiency finance and the dissemination of best practices.


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. The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and CERES have joined UNEP FI to support this Statement, and a momentum has been created with many networks disseminating the information and inviting their members to join this mobilization.

For further information and if you wish to support the Statement, please contact Annie Degen at annie.degen (at) unep.org



UNEP FI has partnered with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to reach out to commercial banks on energy efficiency. The start of this joint work was a two-day dedicated event gathering financial institutions in September 2015 in Istanbul to exchange knowledge and experience on the integration of energy efficiency finance into banks’ strategies and operations. The Statement by Financial Institutions on Energy Efficiency was launched at this occasion and has since then received the support of over 115 banks from more than 40 countries. This global mobilization sends a positive message from banks on the increasing relevance of energy efficiency finance for all countries to fight against climate change and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Policy dialogue at the European level

Energy efficiency investment is the most cost-effective manner to reduce the European Union’s reliance and expenditure on energy, while also de-carbonizing the energy system. It 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 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 Phase I of the EEFIG group led to the publication of a landmark report in 2015 "Energy Efficiency – The first fuel for the EU economy". It formulates key recommendations to policy makers and financial institutions, on a sector-by-sector level, to overcome existing challenges and scale up energy efficiency investments across the EU.

In 2016, the work entered a Phase II entitled the ‘Energy Efficiency De-risking Project’ in the aim to address some of the recommendations issued. The project focuses on the development of an open source database on energy efficiency investments performance monitoring and benchmarking. Such an information platform aims to enhance knowledge and understanding of energy efficiency investments and build trust of financial institutions in the energy efficiency market. In parallel, a common underwriting framework for energy efficiency is being developed.



Energy Efficiency Publications
  PDF Over 100 Financial Institutions mobilized to increase energy efficiency finance
(1.6 MB | 4 pages)
  Statements from financial institutions and G20 investors on energy efficiency  
  PDF Energy Efficiency – the first fuel for the EU Economy
(2.7 MB | 127 pages)
  How to drive new finance for energy efficiency investments - Final Report covering Buildings, Industry and SMEs
Executive Summary
  MoreAll Publications