Canada-based BMO Financial Group announced today that it has signed the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB). Launched in September 2019 by the United Nations Environment Programme – Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI) and a group of founding banks, the PRB is a unique framework for ensuring that signatory banks’ strategy and practice align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement. To date, 206 banks have signed up to the principles.

Darryl White, CEO, BMO Financial Group, said:

“We’ve been members of the UNEP-FI since 2010 and are pleased to be an early signatory to the Principles for Responsible Banking in Canada. Banks have a critical role to shape and finance a more sustainable future. The work we do with our clients and stakeholders to understand and mitigate the impact of our operations and financial activity is an important part of how we’ll achieve it. By signing the PRB we are strengthening our commitment to advance the SDGs and the transition to a net zero carbon economy.”

Signatories to the Principles for Responsible Banking agree to fulfil three key steps. The first is to analyse the bank’s current impact on people and planet, both positive and negative, as a result of its practices and policies, forming a baseline for identifying where the greatest change can be achieved. Next, banks agree to develop at least two targets addressing the most significant impacts they have identified, set milestones and define actions to meet the targets, and put in place a governance framework to oversee and ensure progress. Finally, banks must report regularly on their progress on achieving their targets.

BMO stated that it has in place the framework that will enable the bank to meet and exceed its obligations as a signatory to the Principles. In June 2019, the bank set a series of sustainable finance goals, including establishing targets to align $250 billion in client investments to sustainable objectives, and to provide $150 billion in capital to companies pursuing sustainable outcomes by 2025. The bank said it has already surpassed its client investment goal, and achieved 71% of its $150 billion financing target.

Eric Usher, Head, UNEP Finance Initiative, said:

“We are excited that BMO as a longstanding and valued member of UNEP FI is now also becoming a Principle for Responsible Banking Signatory and hope more Canadian peers will follow BMO’s leadership.”