United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative
|Eric Usher (2015-present)|
The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) is a global partnership established between the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the financial sector. It was created in 1992, following the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The UNEP FI consists of 215 members from financial institutions and 41 supporting institutions. These members include banks, investors and insurance companies.
UNEP FI seeks to engage the private sector and the global financial sector, as well as encourage the better implementation of sustainability principles at all levels of operations in financial institutions. Their focus has also been to inspire their members to take Environmental, Social, and Governance issues into their relationships and trade with their customers. The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative is known for their help in facilitating and shaping interactions between a wide range of partners.
UNEP FI is also a founding member of the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative along with the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the UN Global Compact.
In 1991, a group of commercial bankers got together and proposed the idea of a group to help spread awareness about the environmental calendar. In 1992, the UNEP Statement by Banks on Environment and Sustainable Development was launched in New York after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, to insure that sustainable development, among other issues, could be improved. This new initiative bring a broad range of financial institutions on board such as commercial and investment banks.
In 1997, this statement was redrafted in order to be more broad in its appeal and was renamed the UNEP Statement by Financial Institutions on the Environment and Sustainable Development. The Banking Initiative was renamed The Financial Institutions Initiative (FII). In 1999 it was clear that the FII and the Insurance Industry Initiative (III) were working closely due to the similarities of the works that they did and in 2003 at the Annual General Meeting, the two groups decided to merge into one single group. This group would be called the UNEP Finance Initiative.
Finally in 2010, UNEP Statement by Financial Institutions on the Environment and Sustainable Development and the UNEP Statement of Environmental Commitment merged into a single statement called the UNEP Statement of Commitment by Financial Institutions on Sustainable Development. This statement was finalized in 2011
The UNEP FI statement is the backbone of the initiative. It constitutes a list of basic guidelines that should be followed by institutions in order to adhere to sustainability principles. These statements are aspirational, and are therefore followed on a voluntary basis, decreasing accountability to the institution.
Signatories become member of the initiative by paying a nominal fee. The rationale for membership is that the development of sustainable practice in business can increase profits by catalyzing the triple bottom line principle, which acts as an incentive for lending and investors through improved CSR (Caroll, 1999).
The UNEP FI mission statement is "to bring about systematic change in finance to support a sustainable world, and is highlighted in its motto, changing finance, financing change".
The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative works to sustain and improve the following:
- Climate change
- Positive impact
- Energy efficiency
- Social issues
The UNEP FI secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland, out of the United Nation Environment Programme's Resources and Markets branch within the Economy Division. This organization is managed by the United Nations Environment Programme. The secretariat is responsible for a number of things including fostering active participation of key associates, organizing and servicing relevant meetings, and preparing relevant reports.
The current secretariat is Eric Usher, who was appointed as officer in charge in 2015. Usher has experience in the sustainable energy and finance sectors.
In 1994, the first Global Roundtable (GRT), now an event that takes place every two years, took place in Geneva, Switzerland. Global Roundtables have since then crossed the world from Washington, DC, to Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. Each event takes place in a different city around the world.
This event brings together hundreds of leaders in the financial sector, as well as the government and the United Nations. The UNEP FI holds this Global Roundtable to kick off a conversation between the groups present on issues such as sustainable finance, sustainable development and the challenges of a sustainable market.
|2002||Rio de Janeiro|
UNEP FI has been responsible for authoring or editing a number of seminal publications, among which are:
- A Legal Framework for the Integration of Environmental, Social and Governance Issues into Institutional Investment (also known as the 'Freshfields Report, 2005) 
- Fiduciary Responsibility: Legal and practical aspects of integrating environmental, social and governance issues into institutional investment  (2009)
- The Global state of Sustainable Insurance: Understanding and integrating environmental, social and governance factors in insurance  (2009)
- The Materiality of Climate Change: How finance copes with the ticking clock  (2009)
- Demystifying Responsible Investment Performance: A review of key academic and broker research on ESG factors  (2007)