Banks launch roadmap to sustainable finance

14th October 2015

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  • Finance


David Brayne

Ten major banks have joined together to draw up principles for new business models and approaches to financing the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Members of the UN environment programme (UNEP) finance initiative including BMCE Bank, ING Bank, Nedbank, Triodos Bank and Westpac, are calling for an new approach to banking based on supporting activities and businesses that will have a positive impact on the economy, society and the environment.

It can be difficult to prove the commercial viability of many products, activities and services in a low-carbon economy, and this acts as a persistent obstacle to financing them, UNEP said.

The banks involved in the initiative collectively hold more than $4 trillion in financial assets. They are inviting banks and financial institutions to think holistically about their role in global sustainability. Over the course of the two-year project, the 10 banks will work with others in the financial services sector to establish guidance on developing services that support products which to a positive impact on the economy, society and the environment.

The group is also planning to establish a "positive impact incubator" to allow new business models and financing approaches to be tested for their viability by financiers and companies.

UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said that collectively, the world's banks hold US$139 trillion in assets. "Banks are uniquely positioned between the real economy and capital markets. They are critical to catalysing the transition to an inclusive green economy."

Hérvé Guez, head of sustainable investment research at asset managers Mirova and board member of the UNEP finance initiative investment commission, said: "As investors we welcome the banks' initiative to develop the market for sustainable investments, for which there is a growing appetite."


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