The banking sector plays a crucial role in promoting sustainable development. It can lead the way to a more sustainable economy by lending to economic activities that yield the best return from society’s point of view and by guiding customers and stakeholders to manage social and environmental challenges and opportunities. At UNEP FI, we work hand in hand with our member banks to increase lending that supports socially and environmentally sustainable economic activities. Indeed we have supported 30 of those members to create the Principles for Responsible Banking, which aim to transform the banking industry to enable it to play a leading role in achieving society’s goals as expressed in the Sustainable Development goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.
Starting with only a few pioneer commercial banks, UNEP-FI’s Banking Programme can now rely on and assist a strong international banking network of over 170 leading banks across the world. Our membership is composed of top international banks, regional leaders, development banks and specialized environmental banks. At UNEP FI, it is our members, through the Banking Committee, which is composed of senior executives from our member banks, that steer the overall strategy and activities of the Banking Programme to lead this change towards becoming sustainable financial institutions. Therefore, our work is closely tailored to the actual needs and interests of our membership and more globally those of the banking sector.
Over the past few years, our work has fallen into the following broad categories of: providing technical research and guidance on sustainable banking tools and practices, spearheading and supporting leadership initiatives, working with members and experts to develop new concepts, methodologies and approaches and promoting policy dialogue and engagement. For a more in-depth description of our current activities, please click on the tabs listed on the right-hand side.
UNEP FI’s banking members and our banking-related work are supported by our four dedicated thematic expert teams:
Climate Risk & Performance
Climate Change is one of UNEP FI’s core themes. The key areas of focus for banking practitioners include:
- Pilot Project on Implementing the recommendations on Climate-related Financial Disclosure, issued by the FSB Task Force (TCFD)
- Understanding portfolio carbon risk
- Defining and measuring climate performance
- A dedicated training programme on climate change risks and opportunities
Natural Capital Risk & Valuation
Ecosystems Management is organized first and foremost through the Natural Capital Finance Alliance, a partnership with the Global Canopy Programme. Key areas of focus for banking practitioners include:
- Advancing Environmental Risk Management
- Removing deforestation from soft commodity supply chains
- Designing innovative solutions to give agricultural smallholders access to finance – contribution to the UN-REDD+ programme and sustainable land use
Banking & Human Rights
Over the years, UNEP FI has developed guidance on human rights and broader social issues and is actively supporting the exploration of the links between environmental issues such as climate change and human rights / social issues. Key resources for banking practitioners include:
- UNEP FI Human Rights Guidance Tool for the Financial Sector
- Banks & Human Rights: a Legal Analysis – a collaboration between UNEP FI & Foley Hoag LLP
The Positive Impact Initiative aims to promote impact-based financing through new business models and financial products. By virtue of a holistic appraisal of sustainability issues, Positive Impact Finance constitutes a direct response to the challenge of financing the Sustainable Development Goals. Key resources for banking practitioners include:
- Principles for Positive impact Finance
- Rethinking Impact to Finance the SDGs
- Model Framework for financial products for corporates with unspecified use of funds
- Positive impact manifesto
Training and professional development
UNEP FI has a range of training offerings, both online and in workshop format, covering several themes. For further information on each of these services, please visit the Sustainable Finance Training section.