In a bid to define the banking industry's role and responsibilities in shaping a sustainable future, the UN Environment Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and 28 banks from around the world have together developed a roadmap for responsible banking to take forward the agenda of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, officials said.
The new framework -- Principles for Responsible Banking -- was launched at the UNEP FI's Global Roundtable 2018 for a six-month global public consultation.
The 28 banks represent over $17 trillion in combined assets and nine of their CEOs attended the launch, the UNEP said.
More than 500 delegates at the first day of the Global Roundtable on Monday saw the launch of four major initiatives that will help mobilise the financing of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris climate agenda.
By committing to the new framework, banks will be aligning their business with the objectives of the SDGs and the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The principles provide the first global framework that guides the integration of sustainability across all business areas of a bank, from strategic to portfolio to transaction level.
"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," said Satya Tripathi, UN Assistant Secretary-General with UN Environment.
The first day saw the AXA Group announcing the extension of its pioneering climate policies to its new AXA XL division by divesting its coal policy.
The summit heeded the call from UNEP FI's Principles for Sustainable Insurance for its peers in the global insurance industry to form a coalition to commit to decarbonisation and climate resilience in both their insurance and investment activities, and to raise their climate ambition.
The other initiatives launched were a new tool to help financial institutions assess economic risks of environmental degradation and the roadmap to set out recommendations for the French market to build upon its leadership position and achieve further progress in mainstreaming responsible investment.
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