On November 24th, BBVA Chair Carlos Torres Vila took part in the first session of the UNEP FI Leadership Council, the United Nations Environment Programme - Financial Initiative’s (UNEP FI) new body. BBVA is the only Spanish bank on this council, which is comprised of chairpersons or CEOs of financial institutions around the world. UN Secretary General António Guterres also addressed the council.
“The fight against climate change is one of the greatest disruptions humanity has ever faced. A global challenge that requires huge investments and everyone’s involvement. The UNEP FI Leadership Council will provide a platform for the UN and the financial sector to accelerate the transition to a net zero economy," the BBVA Chair said. On the other hand, The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, told Council Leaders, “We need to act with greater urgency, ambition, and credibility. We need pledges to be implemented, and commitments to turn concrete. We need credible targets and transparent timelines.”
The Leadership Council will meet annually and provide strategic direction to guide the role of UNEP FI and that of the UN in the configuration, integration and deepening of sustainability in the entire financial industry. It will also mobilize the international financial community to support a sustainable, resilient and inclusive economy.
Inger Andersen, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), will be co-chair of the council. The CEOs of BNP Paribas, Allianz SE, Axa and Nordea are among the 19 participating members.
The finance industry plays a fundamental role when it comes to leading the transformation that is needed to ensure a resilient and sustainable future. It is estimated that seven trillion dollars are needed every year to invest in the transition to a sustainable, low carbon economy.
Throughout its 30 years of history, UNEP FI has worked with financial leaders to create some of the most important sustainability frameworks in the industry such as the Principles for Responsible Investment (2006), the Principles for Sustainable Insurance (2012) and the Principles for Responsible Banking (2019).
Currently, when the risks for environmental, social and economic stability are on the rise, the UNEP FI community of leaders must accelerate action to bring about change in all institutions and financial systems, and align themselves with the Paris Agreement objectives of limiting the average global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. In this sense, the main financial institutions that belong to UNEP FI, including BBVA, are already taking steps to align their portfolios with climate.
Antoni Ballabriga, BBVA’s Global Director of Responsible Business, has been co-chair of the UNEP FI Global Steering Committee since 2019. This committee is in charge of defining the organization’s strategy and plan of work.
About UNEP FI
The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) is a partnership between UNEP and the global financial sector to mobilize private sector funding for sustainable development. UNEP FI works with more than 400 members - banks, insurers and investors - and over 100 supporting institutions to help create a financial sector that serves people and the planet while delivering positive impacts. Its goal is to inspire, inform and enable financial institutions to improve people’s quality of life without compromising that of future generations.
UNEP FI is an important collaborator of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), led by Mark Carney in his role as UN Special Envoy.
In particular, UNEP FI hosts three of GFANZ’s largest initiatives, including the Net Zero Alliance for Banks, Insurers and Investors.