UNEP Finance Initiative brings together a large network of banks, insurers and investors that collectively catalyses action across the financial system to deliver more sustainable global economies.
For more than 30 years the initiative has been connecting the UN with financial institutions from around the world to shape the sustainable finance agenda. We’ve established the world’s foremost sustainability frameworks that help the finance industry address global environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges.
Convened by a Geneva, Switzerland-based secretariat, more than 450 banks and insurers with assets exceeding US$100 trillion work together to facilitate the implementation of UNEP FI’s Principles for Responsible Banking and Principles for Sustainable Insurance, as well as three UN-convened net-zero alliances. Financial institutions work with UNEP FI on a voluntary basis and we help them to apply the industry frameworks and develop practical guidance and tools to position their businesses for the transition to a sustainable and inclusive economy.
Founded in 1992, UNEP FI was the first organisation to engage the finance sector on sustainability and incubated the Principles for Responsible Investment, now the world’s leading proponent of responsible investment.
Today, we cultivate leadership and advance sustainable market practice while supporting the implementation of global programmes at a regional level across Africa & the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America & the Caribbean and North America.
UNEP FI helps financial institutions to develop practical approaches to setting and implementing targets in areas including greenhouse gas emissions, financing nature, sustainable consumption and production, and financial inclusion to address inequality. The solutions developed effectively establish industry norms and provide a blueprint for the finance sector to tackle global challenges and set strategies and operations on a sustainable pathway. UNEP FI also informs policymakers of the enabling environment needed to mainstream sustainable finance.
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:
- Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB), launched in September 2019 and now signed by some 300 banks representing over 45% of global banking assets. Signatories are working to align their strategies and practice with the vision society has set out for its future in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement, and relevant national and regional frameworks.
- Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI), established 2012 by UNEP FI and today applied by one-quarter of the world’s insurers (25% of world premium). The PSI has developed industry guidance on integrating ESG risks in non-life and life & health insurance businesses.
- Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), established in 2006 by UNEP FI and the UN Global Compact, and applied by half the world’s institutional investors (USD 83 trillion) by 2022. We now operate the Investment Leadership Programme together with the PRI, to catalyse trail-blazing cross-industry and investment initiatives to inform the wider responsible investment agenda.
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 convenes financial institutions to advance knowledge and practice in areas including climate, nature, pollution & circular economy, the SDGs & impact and social issues.
UNEP FI has a long-standing programme on climate change, which has accelerated action to contribute to achieving the goals of the UN Paris Agreement. Aligning all public and private financing with pathways to net-zero by 2050 is critical to limit the average global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.
UNEP FI convenes three finance sector ‘net-zero’ alliances, and is working with key stakeholders to help members align portfolios with science-based greenhouse gas emissions pathways through interim targets:
- Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance (‘AOA’), launched in 2019, with a membership of more than 70 institutional asset owners (pension funds, insurers, sovereign wealth funds) with over USD 10 trillion in assets, about 7% of global investment.
- Net Zero Banking Alliance (‘NZBA’), launched in 2021 with over 100 banks and USD 65 trillion, about half of global banking industry assets. The majority of NZBA members are PRB signatories that are setting ambitious climate targets.
- Net-Zero Insurance Alliance (‘NZIA’), launched in 2021, convening 25 leading insurers representing about 12% of world premium, working together to establish the transition to net-zero insurance.
The Alliances work in close coordination with the Global Financial Alliance for Net-Zero (GFANZ) and are accredited by the UN-backed Race to Zero.