The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday commended the commitment of the management of Access Bank Plc to its sustainable banking principles under its Sustainability Standards Certification Initiative (SSCI).
The apex bank made the commendation at a roundtable in Abuja, which it jointly hosted with the European Organization for Sustainable Development (EOSD).
The event was aimed at creating world class sustainable banking and finance through embracing holistic sustainability standards for senior executives of commercial banks.
Speaking, Special Adviser to the CBN Governor on Sustainable Banking, Dr Aisha Mahmood, said three Nigeria financial institutions, namely Access Bank Plc, Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), and Bank of Industry (BoI), have shown tremendous commitment in the implementation of sustainable principles in the financial sector.
Mahmood said Access Bank is the first African commercial bank to be sustainability certified by the EOSD in 2020, and the DBN the first development finance institution (DFI) and the second in Africa to be sustainability certified.
She said: “I am positive that this workshop will motivate other financial institutions to adopt the SSCI to build resilient economies that work for the environment, businesses and the society.
“Since the adoption of the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBP), Nigerian financial institutions have been integrating economic and social framework to manage risks and opportunities in their business processes and activities.
“So, the adoption of these iconic certification standards will go a long way in helping us in shaping that process.”
She disclosed the CBN has been reviewing the NSBP, which has been implemented for over a decade to align with global best practices, adding that the review will also align it with global sustainability imperatives and Nigeria’s national development priorities.
Since the adoption of the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBP), Nigerian financial institutions have been integrating economic and social framework to manage risks and opportunities in their business processes and activities.
Also speaking, Deputy Manager Director, Access Bank, Chizoba Okoli, described the workshop as timely, and presents an opportunity to discuss sustainability in line with global best practices, and to reflect on how the Nigeria financial sector has embedded sustainability and the subsequent actions required for a good performance.
Okoli said: “There have been conscious efforts to embrace partnership, develop initiatives, policies, and regulations to address issues such as climate change, inequality, human rights to mention a few.
“In achieving the overall development agenda, getting financing right and sustainable banking is very critical. In fact, without this, the global community will not be able to meet the development goals by 2030.
“For us at Access Bank, our commitment to sustainability has yielded great benefits. We have made significant progress in embedding sustainability and a core of our business decisions, operations and practices thereby impacting lives positively now and in the future.”
She informed that the Access Bank sustainable development initiatives cut across a wide range of sectors – from health and education to strengthening vocational skills that abound in Nigeria.
In achieving the overall development agenda, getting financing right and sustainable banking is very critical. In fact, without this, the global community will not be able to meet the development goals by 2030.
She continued: “Creating a society where sustainable development lies at its core has become a priority for us at Access Bank. We initiated and led development of Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles, a set of nine principles approved by the CBN to guide the Nigerian banking industry to embed sustainability in their business operations and practices.
“We also work with the United Nations Environment Programme -Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI) and other leading banks as the only west African bank to develop the principles for responsible banking. The principle serves as the global standard of benchmark for banking decisions to form responsive financial institutions.”
She recalled that in September 2020, Access Bank was presented with a certificate for achieving the highest level of sustainability certification under the SSCI program by the EOSD.
“We are the first at that time and the only commercial bank in Africa to be sustainability certified. We are grateful for the SSCI certification which is a testament of our efforts in driving the attainment of the SDGs in Nigeria, and investment in community development means focus in addressing pressing societal issues and unlocking new market opportunities for our customers and community thereby ensuring the nation’s economic viability,” she added.
Participants at the workshop also included the Director, Bank Supervision at Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Phillip Madamombe; the Chairman, International Council of Sustainability Standards and Chief Executive Officer of EOSD, Arshad Rab; and Head, Sustainability at Access Bank Plc, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, and many others.