Banks have a role to play in tackling climate change

The APPG on Fair Business Banking, has this week hosted the UK launch of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative’s (UNEP FI) ‘Principles for Responsible Banking’, which provides the banking industry with a framework to align its business strategy with society’s goals, which include tackling climate change. The principles help the industry to demonstrate how it makes a positive contribution to society.

As its Co-Chair, I think this is hugely important. The deployment of capital to the real economy and the support of social and environmental goals are key concerns that are increasingly taking centre stage not only in discussions at Parliament, but also with the wider public. As our expectations change, it is important that banks are transparent and clear about how their products and services will create value for their customers, clients, investors, as well as society as a whole. It is imperative that the financial industry adapts.  Banks must no longer be untouchable but must recognise the power they hold and use that power to promote positive change.

The Principles relate to all business areas, whilst equipping financial institutions with a strategy to tackle the biggest challenges facing society. They represent a vital step towards redefining the social purpose of the financial industry and to eliminate some of the practices and behaviours that have plagued the business banking sector since the financial crisis .The APPG launched the Principles at an event in Parliament with the sponsorship and support of the UNEP FI, Triodos Bank and Bourse Ecosse, in which a keynote address was delivered by the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, The Rt Hon Claire Perry MP.

I am particularly pleased that Triodos Bank is committed to keeping these issues at the forefront of the political agenda and we look forward to coordinating our efforts to provide the catalyst required to redefine the social purpose of finance.

Bevis Watts, Managing Director of Triodos Bank UK said  "Given the magnitude of the global challenges we face, a global initiative such as the UN Principles for Responsible Banking is very important to achieve a systemic change. We call on all banks to endorse and sign up for the Principles. The more banks that adopt them, the greater impact the banking industry will have in leading society to meet its goals for a sustainable, equitable and prosperous future. We view the Principles as an important milestone to accelerate the journey of the financial sector towards a sustainable business model. This journey will be difficult at times, but the financial sector is in a very good position to contribute to a sustainable world. Every financial decision makes impact after all. It is up to banks to determine whether that impact is positive or negative. The Principles provide a good roadmap for achieving positive impact."