Global banks endorse climate action and sustainability in new UN pact


130 global banks have confirmed their commitment to implement Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Change agreement into their strategic objectives by signing the United Nations’ (UN) Principles of Responsible Banking initiative.

The banks, which collectively hold US$ 47 trillion in assets, signed the agreement on Friday last week a day ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York. This, according to experts, marked the beginning of the most significant partnership to date between the global banking industry and the UN.

“The UN Principles for Responsible Banking are a guide for the global banking industry to respond to, drive and benefit from a sustainable development economy.  The Principles create the accountability that can realize responsibility and the ambition that can drive action.”  UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the launch of the event which was attended by the 130 Founding Signatories and over 45 of their CEOs.  

The UN Secretary General similarly challenged the 130 founding signatories and their CEOs to not only support the initiative but to also avoid pollution in general.

 “We will rely on you to scale up financing to businesses that stimulate green growth. Place your bets on the green economy, not the grey economy, because the grey economy will have no future,” the UN Secretary-General said.

On his part, Inger Andersen –the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) insisted that by signing the agreement, the 130 banks will shape a sustainable future for the next generation.

“A banking industry that plans for the risks associated with climate change and other environmental challenges can not only drive the transition to low carbon and climate-resilient economies, it can benefit from it. When the financial system shifts its capital away from resource hungry, brown investments to those that back nature as a solution, everybody wins in the long-term,” Mr. Andersen said during the inking of the pact.

According to the United Nations, by backing the initiative the banking and private sectors could unlock US$12 trillion in business savings and revenue annually and create 380 million more jobs by 2030. 

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