Mexico's Central Bank, UNEP and UNDP Call on Financial Sector to Plan for Environmental Risks

Date: 19 May 2020

The Central Bank of Mexico (Banco de México), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) call on the Mexican financial sector to frame and implement an agenda on environmental risk.

Mexico City, 19 May 2020 – Today, Banco de México and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), presented the report “Climate and environmental risks and opportunities in Mexico’s financial system: From diagnosis to action,” which calls upon Mexican financial institutions to make a collective effort to incorporate environmental issues into their risk assessment and corporate governance strategies, as well as to take advantage of the opportunities that would result from the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The report highlights that climate change and environmental degradation are critical challenges of our time, as they lead to loss of natural capital, ecosystem degradation, lower productivity, and a reduction of the population’s well-being, at both the national and global level.

As part of the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), the central banks along with other financial authorities have become more involved in initiatives geared towards encouraging financial institutions to accurately acknowledge and assess the impact of environmental risks, in view that such phenomena can have significant consequences on credit risk, financial stability, and social development.

This publication is a first in-depth diagnosis of the current degree of readiness of Mexican financial institutions to assess climate, environmental, and social risks. The results are based on a survey conducted on the senior management of over 60 institutions and consider nearly 90% of the credit portfolio of the banking system, 80% of the assets reported by fund managers to Mexico’s National Securities and Banking Commission (CNBV), 90% of the assets managed by the Retirement Funds Administrators (AFORES), and 44% of the assets reported by insurance companies.

When talking about this initiative the Governor of Banco de México, Alejandro Díaz de León, highlighted the importance of collective action of all the actors of the financial system. He also expressed his confidence that the report will serve as the basis for the development and implementation of standardized methodologies and criteria in the evaluation of environmental and social risks, which are essential for long-term prosperity.

“It is clear that we need to manage risk far better than we currently do, and this becomes more vital in the context of climate change which remains the existential challenge facing humanity. Financial institutions that sufficiently factor in climate risk, will be able to ensure the long-term sustainability of their portfolios. This study offers useful recommendations for financial institutions and regulators in preparing for the future,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

According to the report, although Mexican financial institutions have become more aware of climate risks, they are still required to integrate more systematic and standardized measures, implement the international agenda, and develop methodologies and areas of responsibility within their own corporate governance structures. In this regard, it draws upon implementing specific actions to mitigate environmental risks and increase green financing flows to the Mexican economy, such as:

  1. defining a national taxonomy for green and sustainable activities,
  2. setting clear timelines and corporate governance commitments by financial system actors to improve and monitor climate risk management,
  3. designing the incentives to incorporate environmental-related factors to firms’ strategic planning, and
  4. developing voluntary reporting standards for Mexican firms.

“Climate change and environmental degradation are critical challenges of our time, and the financial sector has a key role to play in tackling these issues. The recommendations of this report – such as clear timelines and commitments at the board level to incorporate social and environmental aspects into major plans of action, risk management policies, annual budgets, and business plans – will hopefully resonate with decision makers at the highest levels of the Mexican financial sector,” said Achim Steiner, Administrator, UNDP.

Read the full report in English here and in Spanish here.