Desjardins adheres to Principles for Responsible Banking

Desjardins pledges to align its business strategy with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Agreement

Canadian co-op Desjardins Group has become the first financial institution in the country to sign the Principles for Responsible Banking.

Set out by the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), the principles provide a framework for a sustainable banking system. As a signatory, Desjardins pledges to align its business strategy with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.

Banks supporting the principles are required to set and publish targets in the areas where they have the most significant positive and negative impact. The principles require them to be transparent and accountable and report on their contribution to society.

Desjardins also committed to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) two years ago and, more recently, the Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSA).

“The brand of capitalism we’ve seen over the last 30 or 40 years has caused significant collateral damage, including increased inequality and unbridled resource consumption,” said Guy Cormier, president and chief executive of Desjardins.

“We need to change course and take a more inclusive approach that ensures the sustainable use of the resources essential to human life. Desjardins is committed to the Principles for Responsible Banking because we think the future of a healthy society lies in more inter co-operation, more engagement by all and more solidarity.”

Mr Cormier will attend the official signing event at the UN headquarters in New York on 22-23 September, where he will join a panel discussion on the future of banking. Along with 10 other CEOs from financial institutions from around the globe, he will discuss the need for concerted international action to adopt a more inclusive and environmentally friendly model.

“Co-operatives aren’t publicly traded companies, so they’re not under the same pressure for short-term results and speculation. It frees them up to take a long-term view. And they’re owned by their members, so they have a greater interest in serving them and their communities. That’s exactly the spirit of the PRB,” added Mr Cormier.