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  • 3 October 2019
  • Blog | Green Finance | Professionalism and Ethics | Blog

Giles Cuthbert

Last week, I was proud to represent The Chartered Banker Institute at the launch of the UN Principles for Responsible Banking at the UN’s Headquarters in New York.

I arrived in New York to find the city full of UN delegates, politicians and plenty of protestors – you’ll have seen Greta Thunberg on the news making her impassioned speech.  It was difficult getting around, so many streets were closed for the passage of national leaders.  The launch event itself was very well attended, with all signatories to the Principles represented.

As many readers will already be aware, the Institute was one of the first UK organisations to endorse the UN Principles for Responsible Banking earlier this year, and the official signing and launch was presided over by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on 22nd September.

130 banks from 49 countries have now become Founding Signatories of the Principles. They jointly represent USD 47 trillion in assets and with that over a third of the global banking industry. It was good to see so many of them represented at the event and to have the opportunity to speak to banks from every corner of the world, even one from the USA itself!

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.

The six Principles for Responsible Banking that banks commit to were amended following a global public consultation which ended in May 2019:

  1. Alignment: We will align our business strategy to be consistent with and contribute to individuals’ needs and society’s goals, as expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement and relevant national and regional frameworks.
  2. Impact & Target Setting: We will continuously increase our positive impacts while reducing the negative impacts on, and managing the risks to, people and environment resulting from our activities, products and services. To this end, we will set and publish targets where we can have the most significant impacts.
  3. Clients & Customers: We will work responsibly with our clients and our customers to encourage sustainable practices and enable economic activities that create shared prosperity for current and future generations.
  4. Stakeholders: We will proactively and responsibly consult, engage and partner with relevant stakeholders to achieve society’s goals.
  5. Governance & Culture: We will implement our commitment to these Principles through effective governance and a culture of responsible banking.
  6. Transparency & Accountability: We will periodically review our individual and collective implementation of these Principles and be transparent about and accountable for our positive and negative impacts and our contribution to society’s goals.

Having launched the world’s first Green Finance Certificate in 2018, we are now ensuring that the Principles for Responsible Banking [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.