The United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment were publicly launched in April 2006. The UNPRI is an investor initiative in partnership with UNEP finance initiative and the UN Global Compact. Over $4 trillion, including the Nathan Cummings Foundation, endorsed the Principles at the launch; additional signatories now bring the total to over $10 trillion. The Principles are voluntary and aspirational. They are not prescriptive, but instead provide a menu of possible actions for incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into mainstream investment decision-making and ownership practices.

The PRI grew out of an established and growing view among investment professionals that ESG issues can affect the performance of investment portfolios, but that these issues are not yet being adequately incorporated into investment decision-making and ownership practices. PRI signatories include the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, the Swedish National Pension Funds, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, CalPERS, Munich Reinsurance Company, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund, the National Pensions Reserve Fund of Ireland, the South African Government Employees Pension Fund and the Danish Labour Market Supplementary Pension.

NCF was instrumental in the formation of the UNPRI. The Foundation served on the Investor Group that helped to design the principles and continues to be an active signatory.