Around 50% of UNEP FI membership is composed of European institutions, being a quite diverse jurisdiction in terms of sustainability integration, with both very advanced institutions and other in the early stages of their sustainability journeys, which requires for a multilayered engagement approach.
The European members of the Global Steering Committee, Banking and Insurance Board compose the European Regional Advisory Group, which regularly discusses strategic developments, advises on priorities and workplan for the region. UNEP FI works with a network of partners to disseminate, promote and communicate its work across the region, such as tools, research and workshops with the objective of expanding sustainability and responsible finance practices throughout European financial institutions. UNEP FI undertakes outreach with European institutions and sustainable finance networks in Europe and convenes various actors, including finance institutions, industry associations and policy-makers. European regulation is seen as a positive step for institutions in the region.
To advance the sustainable finance agenda in Europe, UNEP FI works with its Europe-based Signatories and Regional Advisors, who act as dedicated industry counterparts in the design and implementation of UNEP FI strategy in the region.
UNEP FI 2022 Strategy and Workplan for Europe reflects the links to UNEP’s thematic framework and programme of work 2022-2023, the priorities of UNEP FI for 2021-2025 as well as the specificities found in the region, allowing for flexibility when acting at different levels of sustainability integration in Financial Institutions.
Three strategic priorities
1. Working on Regulatory developments, with critical linkages to relevant institutions and regulators in Europe by means of:
- Testing European-specific approaches and tools to help ensure market readiness for regulatory developments, and to inform policy and regulatory requirements.
- Ensuring alignment of global and regional approaches with regulators and supervisors, finding complementarities and supporting projects fostering globally ambitious goals
- Representing UNEP’s voice on Sustainable Finance, providing a holistic view on sustainability, connecting all relevant areas of interest – Environment, Climate, Social, Nature, Double materiality, Risk…
2. Expanding membership in jurisdictions without members and to continue our commitment and engagement for sustainable finance development and integration in Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Caucasus and Central Asia
3. Leveraging the potential of supporting institutions, endorsers and other stakeholders to reach out to the large number of European institutions more effectively and deliver on UNEP FI objectives with more tailored approaches.
Five workplan interactions
While these priorities reflect the strategic approach the region will follow, the more concrete areas of the workplan support these strategic objectives as well as the overall areas of impact for UNEP FI with a key focus on the relevant strategic drivers applied to European institutions, namely:
- Focus on members’ implementation: Prioritize implementation of UNEP FI programs and initiatives (PRB, PSI, NZ AOA/IA/BA, etc.)
- Global programs, regional delivery: Rationalise global collective developments with regional implementation support.
- Sustainability technical capabilities: Strengthen offering of technical capabilities to members via the delivery frameworks
- Engagement with financial regulators: Enhance engagement with financial regulators to strengthen industry positioning and relevance.
- Strengthen alignment with UN/UNEP: overall objectives to compound positive results
Flagship project: Applying the EU Taxonomy to bank lending
A joint project of UNEP FI and the European Banking Federation (EBF) that started in 2019, composed of a WG of around 25 banks, more than 10 banking associations and a selected group of observers that work and discuss together in order to advance their understanding of the application of the EU Taxonomy to bank lending.
The first Phase of this joint project started in 2019 and worked throughout 2020. UNEP FI with the EBF and 26 European and international banks to test the EU Taxonomy on core banking products. Results were published in a major report in January 2021 with recommendations on how to improve the usability of the taxonomy for banking and case-studies testing the application of the EU taxonomy to specific transactions. This work was continued into Phase II, below.
This joint report by UNEP FI and the EBF, supported by EY, was published on 15 February 2022 and explores practical approaches for banks who wish to use the EU Taxonomy for mandatory and further applications. The report explores several aspects of EU Taxonomy application to banking. Divided in three sections:
- Section A focuses on disclosure requirements under the EU Taxonomy Article 8 Disclosures Delegated Act
- Section B tackles how the EU Taxonomy could be further used to gather EU Taxonomy compatible information for banks clients who do not yet have an obligation to disclose, such as SMEs and non-EU companies
- Section C explores how the Taxonomy could be used by banks that wish to engage with clients who perform economic activities that are taxonomy-eligible but are not yet taxonomy-aligned
Next steps on this workstream are still TBC. Would you like to know more or directly engage in future EU Taxonomy & EU Regulation work, please contact Daniel Bouzas Luis.
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.
Daniel Bouzas Luis
Regional Coordinator for Europe