UNEP FI and the European Banking Federation (EBF) have launched a unique report assessing the extent to which the EU Taxonomy on Sustainable Activities could be applied to core banking products for labelling or disclosure purposes. This report is the result of a project with 26 major banks, seven banking associations and five observing organisations working together to test, pilot and assess the complexities of applying the EU Taxonomy, which is aimed mainly at investors, to core banking products.

From March to August 2020, banks participating  in the project  tested the EU Taxonomy on more than 40 live or recently closed transactions and existing client relationships, across a large spectrum of sectors and economic activities, and a diverse set of banking products, clients’ corporate structures and geographical locations providing unique insight and information value.

The objective of “Testing the application of the EU Taxonomy to core banking products: High level recommendations” was to develop an initial understanding of the application of the EU Taxonomy to banking products and propose a set of recommendations to enhance applicability and address the identified practical and conceptual challenges. It shares key insights from the information collected, including case studies and subsequent discussions between participating banks, focusing on the benefits and challenges experienced by banks whilst also proposing high level principles to follow in order to apply the EU Taxonomy to retail banking, SME lending and corporate banking, including trade, export and project finance. 26 of the case studies, covering a representative sample of various banking products, are available in the published report.

“At UNEP FI we see the EU Taxonomy as the backbone of a truly transformative agenda. By increasing market transparency and pointing to what is ‘good enough’ from a sustainability perspective, the EU Taxonomy has the potential to direct the flow of finance necessary towards green and sustainable innovation in the economy. We are fully committed to supporting banks throughout their sustainability journey and towards implementing the EU Taxonomy in line with the European agenda for sustainable finance.” – Eric Usher, Head, UNEP FI

The testing exercise also led to eight recommendations directed to legislators, regulators, owners of environmental and social standards and frameworks, labels and certification schemes used by banks to address the identified challenges, and to the banks themselves. UNEP FI and the EBF trust that this report will foster further discussions and facilitate the implementation of the EU Taxonomy in the banking sector.

This report is being delivered at the time of an unprecedented transformation within the banking industry. Globally, banks are progressively committing to accelerating the transition to a net zero carbon economy. Individually or collectively, banks are setting sustainability targets and aligning their business operations and strategies with the SDGs and the Paris Agreement as demonstrated for example by the 200 signatories to the Principles for Responsible Banking. The decisions banks and their clients make today will steer the economy for years to come and define the societies and the quality of the environment for future generations.

Download the report here.

The project was sponsored by BBVA, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Danske Bank, Deutsche Bank, FMO, ING, SEB, Société Générale, Standard Chartered, UBS and UniCredit.

The Working Group was composed of:


  • Barclays
  • BBVA
  • BNP Paribas
  • BPCE
  • CaixaBank
  • Credit Agricole
  • Credit Suisse
  • Danske Bank
  • Deutsche Bank
  • FMO
  • ING
  • Intesa Sanpaolo
  • Jyske Bank
  • KB Financial Group (Korea)
  • Natixis
  • Nordea
  • OP Financial Group
  • Piraeus Bank
  • SEB
  • Santander
  • Société Générale
  • Standard Chartered
  • Swedbank Group
  • UBS
  • UniCredit

Banking Associations

  • ABI
  • Febelfin
  • Finance Denmark
  • Finance Norway
  • Finance Latvia
  • Swiss Banking Association
  • UK Finance


  • European Commission
  • European Banking Authority
  • European Investment Bank / European Investment Fund
  • French Banking Federation
  • PRI

Sponsored by:



About the European Banking Federation (EBF)

The EBF is the voice of the European banking sector, uniting 32 national  banking associations in Europe that together represent some 3,500 banks – large and small, wholesale and retail, local and international – employing about two million people. The EBF promotes:

  • A thriving European economy underpinned by a stable, secure and inclusive financial ecosystem.
  • A flourishing society where stable and secure financing is available to finance the dreams of citizens, businesses and innovators  everywhere.

About UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI)

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. Find out more about UNEP FI’s banking, investment and climate change work.