“We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”

“Sustainability should be an integral part of everyday culture, processes and decision making. Sustainable future is about achieving long-term business benefits and prosperity. Once financial system fully embraces financial as well as societal and environmental benefits, all finance will be sustainable. We will no longer need to speak about sustainable finance as such.”

“In Europe banks have a special responsibility that comes from being in the centre of our financial system.”

To meet the objectives of Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Developments goals, trillions of euros will need to be mobilised globally. Europe alone has identified a yearly financial gap of more than 180 bn euro to finance policies and investments necessary to keep the global temperatures in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. It is clear that without the private sector the funding gap cannot not be closed. Given that around two thirds of the European economy is financed by banks, banks play and will continue to play a crucial role in the transition to a more sustainable future.

To reach the objectives of the Paris agreement, the growth of sustainable activities must take place throughout all economic sectors. The sustainable financing markets must mirror the sustainable developments in the real economy and be able to finance and support that development without too many limitations. Most companies are at different stages in their transition journey towards low-carbon and sustainable activities. Banks have a key role to play in supporting corporates on this journey. The steps being taken towards increased sustainability should be encouraged and supported by the EU legislation.

  • EBF Strategic priority

  • Transformation of the banking sector

  • Opportunity for banks to connect societal and financial goals

Our 4E approach to Sustainable Finance


Smart regulatory framework that enables banks to support their clients in reducing negative and increasing positive impacts.


Review of legislative and non-legislative framework to encourage and reward the shift towards sustainable economy.


Scale-up competences to improve sustainability of bank and market-based financing. Partnering with UN, regulators, businesses etc.


Empowering consumers and engage finance professionals to better understand

Need for a smart regulatory framework

The EC’s action plan is a significant step in developing an international regulatory system in which banks can play a concrete role in financing the global energy transition, decarbonisation of the economy and achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs of the United Nations.

Citizens and business in the European Union can benefit from a smart regulatory framework that bridges initiatives, fuels further development of innovative and sustainable products, and enables and encourages financing of the transformation to sustainable societies. The European Commission’s leadership and firm commitment to deliver on the action plan has substantially accelerated the sustainability agenda across Europe. Its proposals are forward-looking in their approach and cover a lot of ground in a way that is unprecedented by the work of any other institution so far.

We are supporting the European Commission process since the beginning. We have contributed to the report of the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance and are engaged in the subsequent roll-out of the EU Action Plan.

The global nature of these issues, as well as the global nature of financial markets, justify a global response and global public-private partnership. As EBF we support EU coordination efforts at the global level and encourage expanding the use of the EU taxonomy as a common language outside the EU once enough progress at the EU level has been made.


Proposed EU measures on  Climate Transition and Paris-aligned benchmarks to address the risk of greenwashing and improve


Relevant, reliable and comparable data are necessary not only to comply with the envisaged EU


Green Bonds and Green Covered Bonds may prove instrumental in mobilising the bond market for climate


A harmonised taxonomy is important to remove uncertainty, ensure comparability and allow competitive solutions


The objective of the EU ecolabel is to increase the trust of retail investors in investing in financial products pursuing sustainability objectives.

ESG Risk management

Sustainability-related financial risk will become integral part


Sustainability ratings and research


Green securitisations could be one


Encouraging and rewarding sustainability

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid on 9 December we presented our recommendations on how the support of the transition to a sustainable economy and a carbon-neutral future can be further incentivised. The recommendations are part of a new EBF report titled ‘Encouraging and Rewarding Sustainability‘ that identifies how public-private cooperation can be leveraged to accelerate sustainable finance.

The EBF report outlines a number of concrete proposals to stimulate and contribute to the debate of the European institutions, regulators and banks on how to scale up sustainable activities, mobilise and redirect private financial flows to support such activities, develop new instruments and increase the number of eligible projects and help capital markets developments.

Principles for Responsible Banking

The EBF has been one of the first endorsers and keen promoters of the Principles for Responsible banking, giving their  potential to substantially accelerate the banking industry contribution to Paris objectives and SDGs. Learn more 

43 banks launch Net-Zero Banking Alliance as key part of consolidated Glasgow Cop Climate Action

The European Banking Federation (EBF) welcomes the global Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) convened by the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) together with 43 banks. The launch unites existing and new net-zero finance initiatives into one sector-wide strategic forum: The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ). The newly found alliance will work to mobilise trillions of dollars necessary to deliver goals outlined in the Paris Agreement. The founding banks have committed to ensuring engagement with clients on their green transition and decarbonisation, promoting real economy transition in addition to withdrawal from lending to unsustainable economic activities. Learn more

High-level recommendations on the voluntary  application of the EU taxonomy to core banking products

A joint project of the European Banking Federation (EBF) and the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) to assess the extent to which the EU Taxonomy on Sustainable Activities could be applied to core banking products.


The EBF is critically assessing the key dynamics and financing activities of European banks in order to achieve the SDGs. Our main goal is to promote best practices to assist European banks in adopting a vision and strategy aligned with the SDGs and provide a reference point regarding the current status of SDG incorporation in the EU banking sector. Together with KPMG Spain we have  published a report which outlines European bank practices in supporting and implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The study provides an overview of best practices and main challenges for the banking industry in implementing the 17 global goals more than five years after their adoption. The European banking sector plays an important role in achieving the 2030 Agenda due to its capacity to provide and channel resources towards sustainable initiatives that contribute to the implementation of the SDGs. To achieve this goal, most banks are identifying ways in which their activities can contribute to delivering the global sustainable development agenda, with about half of survey respondents reporting the use of indicators and targets aligned with the SDGs. According to the study, banks give priority to SDGs on which their financing activities can make the biggest impact, as opposed to areas where their influence would come from their role as employers or purchasers of products or services. While all SDGs receive some attention, the SDGs that receive the greatest bank focus are those related to economic growth and decent work (SDG 8), climate action (SDG 13), clean energy (SDG 7), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) and responsible consumption and production (SDG 12).

Sustainable-focused products have high potential as a source of SDG financing. 63.3% of banks surveyed in the study have already launched products, services or commercial initiatives based on the SDGs. For bank customers, these mostly include bonds and investment funds aligned with the SDGs. At the retail level, banks are developing products and services that promote a transition to a low-carbon economy, ranging from green mortgages to loans for the purchase of eco-friendly vehicles. Some products also promote other topics such as entrepreneurship or gender equality. Establishing sustainable financing frameworks also enables the banks to identify activities that can channel funding into projects aligned with the SDGs. In terms of portfolio evaluation to measure alignment with the SDGs, progress has thus far been uneven, with most banks reporting that little headway has been made in integrating these aspects into the business. The same trend is observed in terms of defining objectives and metrics suitable for monitoring. According to the study, this is largely motivated by the lack of a methodology to facilitate these tasks, and by the need to engage in strategic business thinking that considers SDGs from the initial stage. Report HERE

Finance against human trafficking

EBF is collaborating with the Liechtenstein Initiative for Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST) to raise awareness and mobilize our members against modern slavery and human trafficking. FAST has worked with a number of EBF members, including the Liechtenstein Bankers Association – one of its project partners – the Dutch Banking Association and the Swiss Bankers Association to help financial institutions access practical tools to use in this effort.

Learn more:

EBF Sustainable Finance Positions

EBF Reports

EBF Sustainable Finance Events

EBF Sustainable Finance Roundup

The EBF Sustainable Finance Roundup is your guide to the key developments in sustainable finance. Read the latest insights from the banking community, policy experts, legislators, academia, and many others.

Once the newsletter is out, you can find it here.

EBF sustainable finance team

Denisa Avermaete

Denisa Avermaete

Senior Policy Adviser - Financing Growth