Sustainable Banking – History and Current Developments

18 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2012 Last revised: 18 Feb 2013

Date Written: October 10, 2012


In this paper we will give an overview about the history of ethical, socially responsible and sustainable banking. Thus it will not provide a general historical overview about banking and finance but concentrate on sustainable, socially responsible or ethical banking. Let us explain why we present some specific events in this paper. The overview starts with the foundation of the first banks in Italy in the 16th century. Furthermore we will describe present developments that can be seen as milestones in sustainable banking. They are less about the foundation of new types of banks but about industry initiatives to integrate sustainability issues into the financial sector. The latest developments in the financial sector are about changing the view from managing environmental, social or sustainability risks into creating positive impacts on sustainable development by using financial products and services. This new view is reflected in the Global Impact Investment Network (GIIN) and in the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) that are both emphasizing the positive role that the financial industry could play in fostering sustainable development.

Keywords: sustainable banking, history, credit unions, cooperatives, GRI, Equator Prinicples, banking

Suggested Citation

Weber, Olaf, Sustainable Banking – History and Current Developments (October 10, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Olaf Weber (Contact Author)

University of Waterloo ( email )

Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1

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