• George Richards, Partner |
  • Sonia Slavinski, Manager |
2 min read

The United Nations Principles for Responsible Banking (UN PRB) were published in 2019 and are at a pivotal stage of implementation. Assurance deadlines are setting in for founding members and revised self-assessment template and assurance guidance have been published.

Developed by the United Nations Environment Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and founding banks, the UN PRB provides a voluntary sustainable banking framework. This includes guidance and sets reporting consistency for the sector in disclosing their contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), the Paris Climate Agreement and other relevant frameworks.

Banks can become signatories, and are then required to publish a disclosure against the six principles of the framework below. This needs to meet minimum requirements and demonstrate plans for continuous improvement. They need to obtain a limited assurance or independent verification over responses to key criteria within the disclosure before the end of their four-year implementation phase, after becoming a signatory. This needs to be published along with the disclosure.

The implementation of the framework is at a pivotal time. Deadlines for assurance are approaching and a revised self-assessment template has been released along with new guidance for assurance providers.

  • Assurance or independent verification is required for disclosures for the last report within the first four years of becoming a signatory. The Founding Signatories are approaching the end of the four-year implementation period, and will need to promptly seek assurance over their third disclosures for reports published ahead of the four-year period. For example, if a bank became a signatory in October 2019, they will need to publish an assured or verified disclosure before October 2023. For a bank with March year-end reporting, this will need to be published with 22/23 March year-end report. The UNEP-FI encourages assurance to be sought even sooner, but many will be doing this for the first time.
  • The UN PRB has recently launched an updated version of the self-assessment template, bringing more focus to those criteria which require assurance, and introducing recommended metrics to be included in the disclosure to strengthen the presentation of reporting. They have also released accompanying updated guidance for assurance providers.

What practical steps should banks take? 

  • Use the new self-assessment template if your report will be released after March 2023.
  • Prepare high-quality metrics and narrative in the disclosure, and put assurance in place.
  • Consider joining this growing movement by becoming a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Banking.

How we can support:

Our ESG team can provide assurance over these disclosures, reviewing and detecting any material misstatements in the disclosure ahead of the UNEP’s review.