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The Principles for Responsible Banking: The global coalition that the world needs

The Principles for Responsible Banking were presented in Paris on November 26. These principles are the result of a joint initiative comprising 28 financial institutions and the United Nations that aims to take on the climate change and sustainability challenges facing society today.

The round table of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative discussed four innovative lines of work to promote sustainable development in the financial industry,  including one in particular: the Principles for Responsible Banking, the first global guiding framework that defines the role and responsibilities of the industry for a sustainable future. These Principles draw on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate, but also builds on the ideas of commitment, impact, customers, stakeholders, governance and goal-setting, transparency and accountability.

BBVA Global Head of Responsible Business Antoni Ballabriga attended the presentation event in Paris. Speaking during the celebration, he underscored the idea of a “global coalition, which has developed a framework capable of accommodating everyone, despite being quite different as banks, from different contexts and cultures. The alliance concept is critical to achieve these results.” From the start, these principles were shared with other agents, such as investors or social society organizations, such as Oxfam International or WWF. These principles don’t echo “the single voice of the industry, but are something that recognizes plurality,” he adds.

Antoni Ballabriga, Global Head of Responsible Business, during his intervention in the  round table of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative in Paris.

BBVA started working on the Principles three years ago with another 250 institutions, including 120 banks. “When a consultation was launched to roll out this initiative, 80 percent of banks were in favor. Finally, 28 banks, including BBVA, have worked during nine months to define these principles,” said Ballabriga, who expects more institutions to sign the agreement over time.

The event also marked the start of a 6-month open consultation process to enrich the Principles and offer other lenders the opportunity to join the initiative, prior to its signing in the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York in September 2019. This represents a challenge for BBVA: “The 28 banks and the United Nations will promote the initiative and encourage others to join us. I’m optimistic and believe that we will make it to 100 signatories. That is the challenge,” said Ballabriga.

The Spanish Banking Association (AEB in Spanish) has joined the banks supporting these principles, and will actively participate in the discussions that take place during this period of public consultation until the signing in the fall.

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