The Principles for a Responsible Banking open a new path for banks to collectively accelerate action in favor of universal financial inclusion

  • The Principles for Responsible Banking Commitment to Financial Health and Inclusion is a unique banking industry accelerator initiative to promote universal financial inclusion and health.
  • 28 signatory banks joined the leadership group by signing the Commitment
  • Targets should be set and published within 18 months of signing, with an annual reporting requirement thereafter

Geneva, December 2, 2021 – A group of 28 banks under the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB) have formed a one-of-a-kind commitment to promote universal financial inclusion and foster a banking sector that supports the financial health of customers. It marks the start of a collective journey to accelerate action on financial health and inclusion, alongside other critical topics of our time, such as climate change, loss of nature and pollution.

It also follows the PRB’s collective progress report released in October, in which financial inclusion was one of the top three sustainability challenges identified by signatory banks as the areas where they can have the most impact. – after mitigation and adaptation to climate change. . Through PRB working groups, banks will also define measures of success, share current best practices and successful approaches to financial inclusion to see how they could be further improved and adopted more widely in the industry.

Accelerating action to ensure universal financial inclusion and the financial health of all individuals is of paramount importance in addressing the inequalities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, around 1.7 billion adults do not have a bank account, which means they are unlikely to be able to save safely or have access to emergency credit. Such inaccessibility to financial products and services makes financial resilience more difficult in times of difficulty. It excludes people from opportunities to secure and maintain their standard of living and prevents them from taking steps to improve their financial health, such as long-term financial planning, access to credit and insurance[1].

“The Principles provide a responsible framework for banks to collectively accelerate action and this is the first time that banks have come together in this way to further promote financial inclusion. By developing an effective and consistent approach, they will be able to establish a best practice path that others can follow around the world. Amid growing global inequalities, exacerbated by COVID-19, this commitment recognizes the essential role of financial intermediaries in facilitating inclusive societies based on human dignity, which are necessary to achieve shared prosperity for current and future generations ” , said Eric Usher, head of UNEP. FI.

Signatory banks joining this leadership group will set targets within 18 months of signing. The objectives will be supported by measures to drive the necessary changes in one or more of these areas: financial and non-financial products and services, internal processes, data analysis and partnerships. The changes could include affordable bank accounts, accessible means of payment, suitable credit offers, financial education, as well as improved credit and risk policies to mitigate over-indebtedness, among others. Banks will publish their targets within 18 months and report annually thereafter, ensuring a high level of transparency of their progress.

The engagement, which focuses on segments such as unbanked, formerly banked and underbanked individuals, households, micro, small and medium enterprises, will help banks contribute to the creation and maintenance of inclusive societies. In doing so, it will contribute to several United Nations sustainable development goals, including the fight against poverty (SDG1); gender equality (SDG5); decent work and economic growth (SDG8) and reduction of inequalities (SDG10). A recent study indicated that improving the availability and accessibility of affordable financial products and services could increase GDP in developing economies by up to 14% and in border markets by 30%.[2].


[1] Source: Global Fintex Database Report 2017, World Bank
[2] Source: Innovation in Financial Inclusion: Revenue Growth Through Inclusion of Innovation (2018), EY

List of committed signatory banks

Akbank, Turkey

A post, Ireland

Banco Hipotecario de El Salvador SA, Salvador

Banco Pichincha, Ecuador

Bancolombia, Colombia

Bank of Industry, Nigeria

Bank of Ireland Group, Ireland

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), Spain

Banco Compartamos, Mexico

BNP Paribas, France

CaixaBank, Spain

International Commercial Bank (CIB), Egypt

Coopeservidores, Costa Rica

Credit Mutuel, France

Desjardins Group, Canada

From Volksbank, Netherlands

Erste Group Bank AG, Austria

Gatehouse Bank, UK

Government Savings Bank, Thailand

Industrial Bank of Korea, South Korea

ING, Netherlands

La Banque Postale, France

Piraeus Financial Holdings, Greece

Sovcom Bank, Russia

Suncorp Bank, Australia

UniCredit, Italy

Vancouver City Savings Credit Union (Vancity), Canada

Yapi Kredi, Turkey

About the Principles for Responsible Banking

The Principles for a Responsible Bank provide a unique framework to ensure that the strategy and practices of the signatory banks align with the vision that the company has defined for its future in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. . The Principles were created in 2019 through a partnership between the founding banks and the United Nations, and are designed to bring purpose, vision and ambition to sustainable finance. The signatory banks undertake to integrate these Principles in all areas of activity, at the strategic, portfolio and transactional levels. More than 250 banks representing more than 40% of banking assets in the world have now joined this movement for change and have embarked on their 4-year journey of impact analysis, definition of objectives and reporting.

About the United Nations Environment Program Initiative

The United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) is a partnership between UNEP and the global financial sector to mobilize private sector finance for sustainable development. UNEP FI works with over 400 members – banks, insurers and investors – and over 100 supporting institutions – to help create a financial sector that serves people and the planet while producing positive impacts. UNEP FI aims to inspire, inform and enable financial institutions to improve the quality of life of people without compromising that of future generations. By leveraging the role of the UN, UNEP FI accelerates sustainable finance.

About the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)

UNEP is the world’s leading voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in protecting the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

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