Principles for Responsible Banking

Creating the future of banking

The Principles for Responsible Banking are a unique framework for ensuring that signatory banks’ strategy and practice align with the vision society has set out for its future in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.

More than 180 banks have now joined this movement for change, leading the way towards a future in which the banking community makes the kind of positive contribution to people and the planet that society expects.

These banks represent more than a third of the global banking industry. This is a journey of unprecedented scale and scope at a time when such ambition is urgently needed.

The Principles for Responsible Banking

The Principles provide the framework for a sustainable banking system, and help the industry to demonstrate how it makes a positive contribution to society. They embed sustainability at the strategic, portfolio and transactional levels, and across all business areas.


Download this overview of the Principles for Responsible Banking.

What is required from Signatories

More than 170 banks have opted to become signatories because they recognise that the needs and demands of their clients and stakeholders are shifting. Signatory banks commit to taking three key steps which enable them to continuously improve their impact and contribution to society:

  1. Analyse their current impact on people and planet
  2. Based on this analysis, set targets where they have the most significant impact, and implement them
  3. Publicly report on progress

Eighteen months after signing, signatory banks must report on:

  • their impact,
  • how they are implementing the Principles,
  • the targets they have set,
  • the progress they have made.

Within four years, signatory banks must have met all these requirements.

Learn more about the Principles.

Becoming a Signatory

To become a signatory, banks must:

  1. Sign the Principles for Responsible Banking
  2. Become a UNEP Finance Initiative member
  3. Announce that their bank has joined the Principles for Responsible Banking

Every year, signatories’ progress is reviewed. Within four years of becoming a signatory, each bank must have met all requirements set out in the key steps to implementing the Principles for Responsible Banking.

Learn more about becoming a signatory.


Signatory banks commit to aligning their business with – and achieving – ambitious targets that contribute to global and national sustainability goals. They are held to account against their commitments through an annual review of their individual progress. A Civil Society Advisory Body will hold the signatories to account for their collective progress.

The Principles are unique in the robustness of their accountability. Ultimately, banks that cannot evidence the necessary changes will lose their status as a signatory.

Learn more about accountability.

Collective action

The Principles offer unparalleled opportunities for collaboration within the banking sector.

Signatories to the Principles for Responsible Banking benefit from the collective expertise of nothing less than the largest community of sustainable bankers globally. By working collaboratively under the auspices of the United Nations, signatory banks jointly deliver tools, methodology and practical guidance. These outputs are uniquely positioned to shape global best practice and influence emerging regional regulation. Learn more about the Resources for implementation that have been developed.

Collective initiatives are an important aspect of the implementation of the Principles. They create the space for banks to jointly push beyond current practice and define new standards for sustainability leadership. The Collective Commitment to Climate Action for example, provides the most ambitious framework for banks globally to contribute to limit global warming to well-below 2 degrees Celsius through their services and lending.

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