Bank of Ireland signs United Nations Principles for Responsible Banking as part of its ongoing responsible and sustainable business strategy

Francesca McDonagh and Geraldine Byrne Nason

Pictured in New York are Bank of Ireland CEO, Francesca McDonagh, and Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.


  • 64% of Irish people more concerned about climate change now than 12 months ago
  • Four in five believe climate change will impact on them in their lifetime

Francesca McDonagh, Bank of Ireland Group Chief Executive, signed the United Nations Environment Programme – Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Principles for Responsible Banking at the UN Headquarters in New York City.

Providing a framework for a sustainable banking industry, the programme has been developed through a partnership between banks globally and the UNEP FI. The UN Principles help to align the banking sector with the objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Bank of Ireland research shows that 91% of Irish adults are concerned about the issue of sustainability, with 64% more concerned about climate change now than they were 12 months ago. Some 83% believe that climate change will impact on them in their lifetime.

While 6 out of 10 agree that banks in Ireland have a role to play in financing the transition to a low carbon economy, green initiatives launched by Irish banks have yet to make an impact in the public sphere. Some 70% believe that financial institutions are not doing enough in terms of their sustainability efforts.

Francesca McDonagh outlined Bank of Ireland’s role in shaping a sustainable future. “Conducting our business in a responsible and sustainable way is fundamental to enabling our customers, colleagues and communities to thrive. Our research clearly signals that Irish people are increasingly concerned about environmental issues impacting their lives and believe that banks need to do more. Signing the UNEP FI principles is a key step in Bank of Ireland’s Responsible and Sustainable Business journey, signifying our commitment to be part of the global drive for more responsible banking operations.”

Geraldine Byrne Nason, Ireland’s Ambassador to the United Nations welcomed Bank of Ireland’s commitment, saying, “It is important that we collectively take responsibility to achieve the objectives of the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement. I am glad to see Irish Banks take action in this regard as part of their ongoing business strategy.”

Bank of Ireland’s Responsible & Sustainable Business Initiatives include:

  • 50% carbon intensity reduction target for 2030
  • €1bn Sustainable Finance Fund to support personal and business customers
  • Green Mortgage Interest Rate – borrowers can receive a discount of 0.2% off fixed rate interest options for any energy efficient homes
  • Green Home Improvement Loan – designed to fund energy efficient upgrades, borrowers offered loan at 6.5% (Variable APR) for amounts from €2,000 to €65,000.
  • Green Business Loan – discounted finance offered to businesses who want to implement energy saving initiatives to reduce their energy costs and their carbon footprint.
  • Providing finance to Wind Energy projects which has funded the equivalent of c.450,000 homes with green energy to date

Francesca McDonagh went on to say, “Our customers want practical ways to help them make greener decisions. That’s why earlier this year we launched a suite of green loans and interest rates to encourage and reward homeowners and businesses to be more energy efficient.

“As a company, we have also made strides in transforming our own operations and reducing our property and carbon footprint. Of course, we are still at the early stages and by signing the United Nations’ principles Bank of Ireland’s sustainability roadmap is clearly defined, and benchmarked globally against others across the banking industry.”