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Opinion Updated: 03 December 2018

We are confident we will see up to 100 banks sign up to these Principles

Paris is the city where three years ago decisive action was taken against climate change. Today, in 2018, Paris once again provides the backdrop: this time it played host to the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) roundtable and Climate Finance Day. This event has been touted as the financial sector's most important event of the year in the fight against climate change.

BBVA has been a member of the UNEP FI since 2002 and has a seat at its global steering committee where Antoni Ballabriga, our Global Head of Responsible Business, represents the bank; it is therefore only fitting that BBVA actively participated in the recent forum in Paris. Over the course of three days, more than 1,500 participants from every continent —including high-level government officials, international organizations, banks, insurance providers, investors, and civil society organizations— came together with the goal of mobilizing the financial sector to create a sustainable world.

An unquestionably intense agenda. More than a hundred presentations, discussions, and roundtables called attention to the enormous challenge the world still faces as we strive to meet the 2030 Agenda, as defined by the Sustainable Development Goals and commitments made in the Paris Agreement on Climate.

"BBVA clearly understands the role it needs to assume as a key player in global finance"

It was inspiring to witness the firm conviction of the various and diverse parties, who, despite our differences, are all steering in the same direction (the only one that is truly viable), joining forces to achieve common goals — extremely ambitious goals that require collaboration, synergies, and alliances between all parties.  BBVA clearly understands the role it needs to assume as a key player in global finance and has embraced this challenge by putting a strategy in place to promote sustainable development and fight against climate change. Our initiative, which we call Pledge 2025, was announced in February 2018.

In turn, sharing enriching experiences with other participants at the event —interacting with professionals from different areas of expertise— gave us invaluable insight and appreciation for the fact that we share common goals and face common hurdles.  Because, it's easier to confront them together. And, together it will be easier to achieve.

One of the sessions that I paid particular attention to was the presentation of the Principles for Responsible Banking, a global banking initiative coordinated by the United Nations, which BBVA has been working on with 27 other banks since April 2018. Simone Dettling, Banking Team Lead of the UNEP FI was responsible for presenting the Principles, and they were very well received.

So, now what? The Principles now enter a public consultation period, which will last until May 31, 2019. The founding banks encourage other banks and interest groups (banking associations, regulators, investors, civil society organizations, etc.) from around the world to get involved: to suggest ideas to help with the development of the Principles and their implementation roadmap; to formally demonstrate support for the Principles —by prescribing to them— until the September 2019 United Nations General Assembly when the Principles can be formally adopted and advocates can become signatories. We are confident we will see up to 100 banks sign up to these Principles.

Now is about having an opportunity to contribute and joining up. This can be done online by filling out a form or signing up for a webinar that UNEP FI and the founding banks will deliver every six weeks. We will also be setting objectives and accountability requirements and seeking input.

The more banks that adopt the Principles, the greater the impact the financial sector can have on the goals for a sustainable society in the future. For BBVA, this means aligning our business strategy with the Sustainable Development Objectives and reinforcing our commitment to a more sustainable financial system. We have had the satisfaction of seeing our Principles announced to the wider community, but now the real work begins. It is up to us —and we embrace it with effort and enthusiasm— to lay down the path that will lead us to a more sustainable future for everyone.