The PRI are designed to act as guidelines for institutional investors in investing ethically and in a manner that supports sustainable development.
Issues such as greenhouse emissions, government corruption and child labour will be addressed in the principles; problems that the UN believes can be effectively tackled through more conscientious investment practices.
So far 20 unnamed investors have signed up to the principles, between them controlling an estimated $1.2 trillion in assets worldwide, and are rumoured to include several leading financial institutions.
Although the PRI will be entirely voluntary, it seems likely that investors will follow the increasing trend towards ethical investment, with private and institutional investors alike casting a more critical eye over the business practices of the companies they invest in.
However, concerns remain as to how much ethical commitments will conflict with the pursuit of financial performance.