Finnish banks ready to enter the age of sustainable finance

Finnish banks have committed to the UN’s Principles for Responsible Banking, which were launched on 22 September by 130 banks from 49 countries. The principles help banks integrate responsibility into their operations and utilise the many opportunities of sustainable finance. The Finnish banks to sign the commitment include Danske Bank, Handelsbanken, Nordea, OP, SEB and Swedbank.

The board of Finance Finland (FFI) decided earlier this year that the entire Finnish financial sector should commit to international sustainability principles, which include not only responsible banking but also responsible insurance and responsible investing.

“As a bank, we play an important role in the society. We can help build a more sustainable future through our investments and funding. Responsibility is an important part in all of our investment and funding decisions”, says Nina Arkilahti, executive vice president at Handelsbanken Finland

The Principles for Responsible Banking consist of six principles that set a global standard for responsibility. They were written with the aim of establishing practices by which banks can create value not only for their stakeholders but also for the society.

“SEB responds to the growing demand on sustainable services. We are a pioneer in the green bond concept and are launching new products at a rapid rate. For example, we recently set up a fund that invests in companies that strive for the UN sustainable development goals. We believe in co-operation and have taken part in Fortum’s Puro project, the world’s first marketplace for CO2 removals”, reports Marcus Nystén, country manager at SEB.

Timo Ritakallio, group executive at OP Financial Group, says the group recognises its responsibility in sustainable development as one of major Finnish financers. “Our future success is tied to the success of the society around us. Slowing down global warming and attaining UN sustainability goals require extensive collaboration from everyone”, he adds.

Nordea was the only Nordic participant in the core group of 30 banks that developed the UN principles. The principles have been signed by 130 banks whose assets total more than 47 billion USD.

“Consideration of sustainability concerns is sensible risk management and sensible business. If these factors are not in order when making an investment decision, the company can later become a credit risk”, notes Ari Kaperi, country senior executive for Finland at Nordea.

The Principles for Responsible Banking (UNEP FI website)