Game-changing commitments for sustainable development 

greenNearly 20 leading global banks and investors, with $6.6 trillion in assets, have launched an initiative called Principles for Positive Impact Finance to help foster the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

This is “a first of its kind set of criteria for investments to be considered sustainable,” the UN said. The initiative involves 19 banks and major investors.

“The Principles are a timely initiative from the finance sector. They demonstrate the willingness of financial institutions to go beyond current practices and to contribute to foster a more sustainable development,” said French Finance Minister Michel Sapin. “They should provide strengthened foundations for a positive cooperation between public and private actors in this area.”

“Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – the global action plan to end poverty, combat climate change and protect the environment – is expected to cost $5-7 trillion every year through 2030,” said Eric Usher, head of the UN Environment Finance Initiative.

“The Positive Impact Principles are a game changer, which will help to channel the hundreds of trillions of dollars managed by banks and investors towards clean, low-carbon and inclusive projects,” Mr Usher added.

The Principles provide financiers and investors with a global framework applicable across their different business lines, including retail and wholesale lending, corporate and investment lending and asset management, the UN said in a press release.

Séverin Cabannes, Deputy CEO of Société Générale. Photo: SG
Séverin Cabannes, Deputy CEO of Société Générale. Photo: SG

“With global challenges such as climate change, population growth and resource scarcity accelerating, there is an increased urgency for the finance sector both to adapt and to help bring about the necessary changes in our economic and business models. The Principles for Positive Impact Finance provide an ambitious yet practical framework by which we can take the broader angle view we need to meet the deeply complex and interconnected challenges of our time,” said Séverin Cabannes, Deputy CEO of Société Générale, a founding member of the group.

“The four Positive Impact Principles provide guidance for financiers and investors to analyse, monitor and disclose the social, environmental and economic impacts of the financial products and services they deliver,” the UN said.

The organisation added holistic appraisal of positive and negative impacts on economic development, human well-being and the environment will be required.

“The Principles do not prescribe a single method for achieving positive impact, but they require that appraisal processes and methodologies be transparent. The Principles are part of a broader process under the Positive Impact Manifesto, launched in 2015 to call for a new, impact-based financing paradigm to bridge the gap in financing for sustainable development,” the UN office said.

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