SILSDEN-based Ecology Building Society has become a founding signatory to a United Nations initiative.

The society has signed-up to the Principles for Responsible Banking, a global scheme under which banks commit to align their businesses with sustainable development goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The Ecology, which specialises in providing environmental lending for properties and projects, is among a coalition of 130 banking providers – and the first building society – to pledge support.

An official launch of the Principles, acclaimed as the most significant partnership to date between the world banking industry and United Nations, took place at the start of the latest UN General Assembly gathering in New York.

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said the Principles were a guide for the global banking industry to “respond to, drive and benefit from”.

Paul Ellis, chief executive of the Ecology Building Society, said signing-up to the scheme “wasn’t a difficult decision”.

“We’ve been acting as pioneers of environmental finance since we were established and we are proud to support these concerted efforts to build a sustainable future,” he added.

“Given the scale of the climate and ecological crisis, we need finance that serves people and planet.

“The Principles have the potential to drive systemic change, ensuring that the purpose of banking extends beyond profit to creating positive social and environmental impacts.”

Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations environment programme, has voiced her support for the initiative.

She said: “A banking industry that plans for the risks associated with climate change and other environmental challenges can not only drive the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient economies but can benefit from it.

“When the financial system shifts its capital away from resource-hungry, brown investments to those that back nature as a solution, everybody wins in the long term.”

Earlier this year, the Ecology announced record profits of more than £1 million.

Figures showed a profit after tax of £1.022m for last year – the first time the total had broken through the million-pound mark. And there was a 36 per cent increase in mortgage lending. Gross lending reached £38.4m, compared to £28.2m in 2017.