United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) is a partnership between UNEP and the global financial sector to mobilize private sector finance for sustainable development. UNEP FI works with more than 300 members – banks, insurers, and investors – and over 100 supporting institutions – to help create a financial sector that serves people and planet while delivering positive impacts. We aim to inspire, inform and enable financial institutions to improve people’s quality of life without compromising that of future generations. By leveraging the UN’s role, UNEP FI accelerates sustainable finance.

Industry-based principles

UNEP FI supports global finance sector principles to catalyze integration of sustainability into financial market practice. The frameworks UNEP FI has established or co-created include:

These frameworks establish the norms for sustainable finance, providing the basis for standard-setting and helping to ensure private finance fulfils its potential role in contributing to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Paris Agreement on Climate Change agreed by governments around the world in 2015.

UNEP FI also supports the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSEI), launched in 2012 with UNCTAD, UN Global Compact, and the PRI. Today this involves 90 stock exchanges accounting for almost all publicly-listed capital markets.

We work with our members from the banking, insurance and investment industries, technical experts and key stakeholders, to convene ambitious collective action, facilitate shared learning and co-develop practical resources to equip financial institutions with the knowledge and expertise to embed sustainability into their strategies and operations. We facilitate collaborative projects to develop methodologies and tools,  encourage harmonization, promote advances in good practice, and support leadership to accelerate growth in the quantity and quality of sustainable financial institutions.

We aim to create the most effective network for sharing knowledge and best practice and to amplify the collective voice of the finance sector in policy debate, engaging policymakers, regulators and supervisors on the role of the financial sector in contributing to sustainable development.

UNEP FI holds agenda-setting Global and Regional Roundtables to brings together partners and other stakeholders to build momentum to advance sustainable finance market practice and provide clear signals from the financial sector to policymakers on the importance of integrating Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues and sustainability impacts into financial decision-making.

Read about the initiatives we have been working on with our members in our annual overview here.

History

The UNEP Statement of Commitment by Financial Institutions on Sustainable Development was the original backbone of the Finance Initiative when it was created in the wake of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. By signing up to the Statement, financial institutions openly recognized the role of the financial services sector in making our economy and lifestyles sustainable and commit to the integration of environmental and social considerations into all aspects of their operations. Read more historical background to UNEP FI.

Plot the evolution of sustainable finance over the last 27 years since UNEP FI’s launch in 1992, and our role in that journey by navigating our interactive timeline here.