Creating change and stepping up for society in times of crisis

“If finance won’t move, the world won’t move.”
 – Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme

The Principles for Responsible Banking are a unique framework for ensuring that signatory banks’ strategy and practice align with the vision society has set out for its future in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. They were launched in  September 2019 by UNEP FI with 130 signatory banks.

A growing community

In the year since, the number of signatories has grown to nearly 200, representing around 40% of the banking industry and serving more than 1.6 billion people worldwide. With every corner of the globe represented, this is the world’s largest community of sustainable bankers.

Stepping up in times of crisis

In the first year since the launch of the Principles, the world has changed drastically. The global Covid-19 pandemic has widened social inequalities and underscored the value of environmental protection. Guided by the Principles and benefitting from the experiences of peers from around the world, Signatories have been well positioned to effectively support their clients and communities throughout the crisis.

Creating change

The first year has seen change to every aspect of signatory banks, from governance structures to products and services. It has been an opportunity to gather information and deepen understanding, so that the community embarks on the second year armed with the insights required to make even greater progress possible.

While it is early days – and it will take some time for the changes made to translate into impact – there is much to celebrate in what has been achieved so far despite the disruption of Covid-19.

In this update, the Signatories of the Principles for Responsible Banking are sharing the experiences and progress they have made in the first year. Start by reading how the banks have started by driving change internally.

Hear what Signatory Banks’ CEOs have to say on their first year of implementing the Principles for Responsible Banking, here and here, recorded at the Sustainable Investment Forum and the Global Roundtable 2020 Event respectively.

Progressing together

Eleven working groups have been set up bringing signatories together to learn from each other, and develop tools and guidance based on emerging global best practice. One of the first achievements of these working groups has been the launch of the portfolio impact assessment tool in the spring. This enables banks to implement a first key step, to understand and act upon their key impacts.

Ensuring robust accountability

In this first year, the Principles’ Signatories have put in place robust accountability mechanisms to ensure this initiative delivers the change necessary for people and planet. In Year One the Signatories agreed to institute the Civil Society Advisory Body, which will bring together twelve organizations with expertise in the most relevant social and environmental issues. This body will provide an independent review of the signatories’ collective progress.

Summary of Year One

Principles for Responsible Banking Year One update infographic

Year One updates