Banks sign UN’s responsible behaviour initiative

Barclays, BNP Paribas, Nordea and National Australia Bank are among the 28 banks to have signed up to the new initiative

A host of global banks today signed up to the latest United Nations-endorsed financial programme, designed to align the financial services sector with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.

Banks representing some $17 trillion in assets, including Barclays, Bradesco, ICBC, National Australia Bank, Nordea and Westpac, signed the agreement, which commits the signatories to considering the impact that their business operations have on society, as well as their shareholders.

In a statement announcing Nordea’s participation in the programme, Casper von Koskull, president and group CEO of Nordea, said the bank wanted to “contribute to the transition to a low carbon economy and society’s goals.”

He added: “It is about mitigating risks, improving resilience and creating opportunities for a better society. Together we are on a journey towards a sustainable future.”

The Principles for Responsible Banking initiative commits banks to six clear goals:

1) To align their business strategies so that they contribute to societies’ goals and individual’s needs, as stipulated in the UN SDGs and in the Paris Climate Agreement.

2) To reduce the negative impact that they have people and the environment as a result of the services they provide and increase the positive impact that they make.

3) To work with clients and customers to encourage sustainable practices and economic activities that will benefit current and future generations.

4) To work with other stakeholders to achieve society’s goals.

5) To implement good governance and a culture of responsible banking, demonstrating ambition and accountability by setting public targets relating to the most significant impacts.

6) To periodically review their individual and collective implementation of these principles and be transparent about their behaviour.

Following the announcement, Satya Tripathi, assistant secretary general of UN Environment, said: “The global banking industry is stepping up to the sustainability challenge. I’m optimistic we’ll see a realignment of business practice – one that embraces the fact that green and socially responsible business is the best business.”