Principles for Responsible Banking on track to become industry standard as over 65 organisations now endorse

19 February 2019

Today 12 more banks are endorsing the UNEP Finance Initiative’s Principles for Responsible Banking, bringing the total number of banks supporting the new framework to 49. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Itaú Unibanco, CaixaBank, Wema Bank, Banco Galicia, BCC Grupo Cooperativo Cajamar, Banco De Fomento Agropecuario, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Spare Bank, Arion Bank, ALEXBANK, and Polaris Bank are joining the coalition of banks that are committing to align their strategy, portfolio and business practices with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. Other stakeholders from the finance industry are also joining the growing group: The Luxembourg Bankers’ Association (ABBL), Chartered Banker Institute, the Islamic Finance Council UK, the Institute for Social Banking, RepRisk, Datamaran, Mindful Finance Institute, the Ethical Finance Hub, and Febelfin, the Belgian Financial Sector Federation, are committing to support and promote the Principles amongst their members and in their networks.

The Principles provide guidance for banks to create value for their customers, shareholders, and society. They are the first global framework to enable banks to integrate sustainability across all business areas, from strategic, to portfolio, to transaction level. The transparency and accountability mechanism of the Principles requires signatories to address their most significant impacts, set public targets and report back on progress.  

Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice President European Commission said: “Banks have a special responsibility that comes from being at the center of the financial system.” He continued, “I encourage all banks to sign up to the Principles for Responsible Banking.”  

Simone Dettling, head of the Banking team at UNEP FI said: “It is fantastic to see this coalition growing so quickly. The Principles for Responsible Banking are rapidly setting the global standard for what it means to be a responsible bank. We invite banks that haven’t endorsed them yet to join and show their commitment to the sustainable banking system of the future.”

The Principles were developed by 28 of the world’s leading banks, all members of the United Nations Environment Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). The Principles are currently out for global public consultation until May 2019 and will become available for signature in New York in September 2019, during the week of the UN General Assembly. Until then banks and stakeholders can join this forward-looking coalition by becoming official endorsers of the Principles.  

For media enquiries, please contact Simone Dettling.

Find out more about how to become an Endorser

Provide your feedback and input on the Principles.

Quotes from the CEOs of Endorser Banks

Takeshi Kunibe, President and Group CEO, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group

“We support the Principles for Responsible Banking, as they are fully compatible with the corporate direction of SMBC Group. SMBC Group aims to “be a global financial group that leads growth in Japan and Asia by earning the highest trust of our customers”. As we fulfill this role, we will work for the sustained development of society as a whole and to raise our own corporate value by promoting ESG and SDGs-related initiatives.”

Candido Bracher, CEO, Itaú Unibanco

“As a leading financial institution in Brazil and the region, we are conscious of our role in driving the growth and socio-economic development of the communities in which we operate. Through the medium of financial products and services, we have supported our clients in the quest for sustainable solutions and those bringing benefits both to them as well as to society as a whole. We confirm the endorsement of UNEP-FI’s Principles for Responsible Banking and reinforce our objective of recognizing and maximizing the positive impact of our activities through the publication of our commitments before the end of this year.”

Gonzalo Gortazar Rotaeche, CEO, CaixaBank

“En CaixaBank apostamos por un modelo de banca socialmente responsable que ponga a las personas en el centro y contribuya a un mayor bienestar para todos. Este compromiso se alinea por completo con los Principios de Banca Responsable, que deben fomentar que los bancos adopten un papel líder en la construcción de un futuro más sostenible. El futuro de la banca pasa necesariamente por una actuación responsable, que aúne la rentabilidad con el mejor servicio a los clientes y un impacto social y ambiental positivo.”

Ademola Adebise, Managing Director and CEO, Wema Bank

“At Wema Bank, the journey has started with our sustainability vision of developing “Digital Solutions for Societal Impact”. The landscape is wide but we believe that with the use of technology and through innovation, daily improvements can be made to the society that we operate in. As a deliberate strategy, we will continue to drive our corporate sustainability initiatives with focus on reducing our environmental footprint, promoting responsible business practices and creating shared value for our stakeholders. Our long-term aspiration is to become a responsible stakeholder in the growing digital economy, with capacity for increased innovation to identify untapped opportunities in the market space and impact positively on the society, environment and business.”

Fabian Kon, CEO, Banco Galicia  

“The Principles for Responsible Banking will help our industry make a positive contribution to society and provide guidance for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. As more banks support and adopt the Principles, the greater impact the banking industry will have on the development of a sustainable future. We are convinced that responsible business is the way to do business.” 

Luis Rodríguez González, Presidente, Banco de Crédito Social Cooperativo-Grupo Cajamar

“Los Principios de Banca Responsable promovidos por el Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente están en línea con el modelo de negocio y con el sistema ético de gestión del Grupo Cooperativo Cajamar. Desde la banca cooperativa ayudamos a promover e impulsar una actividad empresarial sostenible, por lo que nuestro respaldo a esta iniciativa sin duda contribuirá a crear una mayor concienciación en la sociedad, así como a alinear la actividad bancaria con sólidos principios éticos y de responsabilidad. La actividad del Grupo Cooperativo Cajamar es singular y socialmente comprometida, y  va más allá de la mera financiación, estando vinculada al desarrollo y el progreso sostenible y orientada a la consecución de una sociedad más justa y equilibrada. De ahí que el desempeño de la banca cooperativa no lo consideramos como un fin en sí mismo sino como un instrumento al servicio de la sociedad”.

Ana Lilian Vega Trejo, President, Banco De Fomento Agropecuario

“Banco de Fomento Agropecuario is committed to the economic, social and environmental development of the Salvadoran population. We accept the challenge of promoting the Principles for Responsible Banking to redefine how we will build a path that meets current needs without compromising the resources of future generations. The process of consulting the Principles is the opportunity for the banks of the national financial system to generate synergies and play a leading role in creating a more sustainable future for the Salvadoran population.”

Tetsuo Ohkubo, Director and President, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Inc.

“Addressing the issues raised by SDGs or the Paris Climate Agreement requires the coordinated efforts of various stakeholders, and sustainable finance plays a crucial role through the most appropriate allocation of funds. The Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Group has focused on “Eco-Trustution”, providing solutions to environmental issues through utilizing functions as a trust bank. We will further accelerate our initiatives to address environmental issues and lead the banking industry.”

Richard Heiberg, CEO, SpareBank 1 Østlandet

“There are three good reasons why we endorse these Principles. First of all these Principles fit well with our approach to sustainability. We work to support the Sustainable Development Goals, and aim to embed sustainability in all business operations. Secondly, we want to play our part in the global effort for a sustainable world. But the third is perhaps the most important, we believe it is of great value that the financial sector internationally pull in the same direction when it comes to sustainability.”

Höskuldur H. Ólafsson, CEO, Arion Bank

“At Arion Bank we are committed to working responsibly in harmony with society and the environment. The new UNEP FI Principles for Responsible Banking match our strategy well. We are therefore delighted to endorse and comply with these principles and we hope they will be beneficial to us on our journey towards sustainability. By signing up to these principles we are also demonstrating our support for important international goals and agreements such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. We look forward to being an active member of the international responsible banking community.”

Dante Campioni, CEO and Managing Director, ALEXBANK

“ALEXBANK, fully in line with Intesa Sanpaolo Group’s directions, integrates sustainability principles in key business operations, which allow us to better serve the emerging needs of millions of Egyptians and the community as a whole. ALEXBANK embraces a sustainable growth model, able to create value for all its stakeholders, committing to an advanced and innovative sustainability framework. ALEXBANK’s endorsement of the Six Principles for Responsible Banking, fully affirms its commitment to responsible, transparent, ethical and compliant business.”

Quotes from the CEOs of Endorsing Stakeholders

 Guy Hoffmann, Chairman, The Luxembourg Bankers’ Association

“The role of banks is about helping to shape the future and the ABBL is committed to a positive contribution to our environment, economy and society.”

Simon Thompson, CEO, Chartered Banker Institute

“Successfully embedding the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB) at the heart of our sector is crucial. As the oldest banking institute in the world, we have a long-term commitment to setting and driving upwards the standards for knowledgeable, accountable and responsible bankers and, through, this work our support of the responsible banking agenda. Having launched the world’s first Green Finance Certificate in 2018, we are now ensuring that the PRBs are being included in all our qualifications. This will not only help embed sustainability within our sector but will demonstrate in a very practical way the social purpose of banking and help reconnect banks and society.”

Omar Shaikh, Advisory Board Member, Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC)

“The UKIFC is the leading organization in Islamic finance actively promoting greater integration with the broader ethical finance marketplace. The underlying principles of Islamic finance align well with people, planet and purpose. The enhanced nature of stakeholder involvement in Islamic finance sits particularly well with the ethos of UNEP FI’s Principles for Responsible Banking, for this reason we welcome and endorse them.”

Sanika Hufeland, Managing Director, Institute for Social Banking

“We are happy to promote and support the UNEP FI Principles for Responsible Banking as an education and research institution. We have always believed that finance should contribute to a sustainable development of people and planet. We are pleased that more and more banks are integrating the Principles for Responsible Banking as underlying values of their business activities. With our educational programmes we want to enable all employees to explore these values and show them how to translate them into their daily business.”

Dr. Philipp Aeby, CEO, RepRisk

“RepRisk is a proud supporter of the Principles for Responsible Banking and its purpose of embedding sustainability across all business areas in the banking industry. RepRisk had its genesis in the investment and commercial banking industry, and for more than a decade we have been supporting banks worldwide in identifying ESG and business conduct risks related to their clients, transactions, suppliers, and investments. Our aim is to increase transparency and thus help drive accountability and responsible behavior of companies.” 

Marjella Alma, CEO and Co-Founder, Datamaran

“A financial system that understands and leverages the informational value that environmental, social and governance issues carry is pivotal for building corporate resilience and long-term orientation, which in turn generates better societal value. We welcome the Principles for Responsible Banking as clear and actionable guidance to make the financial system more transparent and efficient. For this reason, and based on our collaboration with the leaders in the Banking sector, we are pleased to become an endorser of the Principles. As the global leader in Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions for non-financial risk management, Datamaran enables a business process for continuous issues monitoring, fully owned by the sustainability and risk teams. This process ultimately helps banks to improve transparency and accountability, impact and alignment. It also improves stakeholder engagement and monitoring as well as governance and target setting that is vital for enabling of the Principles.”

Dr. Friedhelm Boschert, Managing Director and Co-Founder, The Mindful Finance Institute

“The Mindful Finance Institute contributes to a paradigm change in finance. Where trust, transparency and sustainability are foundations arising out of mindful and responsible decision making. We endorse the UNEP FI Principles for Responsible Banking as they set the framework for sustainable banking of the future. This necessary cultural change can best be achieved through mindfulness.”

Julian Parrott, Director and Board Member, Ethical Finance Hub

“The Ethical Finance Hub aims to create a fairer, more inclusive and socially responsible financial system and we see the UN Principles for Responsible Banking as an important, and necessary, framework that will support the global banking sector to take a consistent and measurable approach to sustainability. We are committed to promoting the draft Principles for Responsible Banking within our networks and welcome this exciting opportunity to work with UNEP FI and partners to raise awareness and encourage adoption.”

Karel Van Eetvelt, CEO, Febelfin, the Belgian Financial Sector Federation

“In Belgium, the financial sector finances about 80% of the economy. This role as facilitator in supporting the economy allows us also to be a driver in transitioning to sustainability. The financial sector has that ambition and wants to go for it.”