Leaders and stakeholders in the financial industry at Access Bank sustainability summit called for an improved approach to the attainment of the 18 Sustainable Development Goals.
The summit held at Access Bank headquarters in Victoria Island, Lagos was themed ‘Financing Sustainable Development’.
Head, sustainability at Access Bank Plc, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan said as the achievement of the SDGs progresses, the importance of finance, and the role of financial organizations has become increasingly crucial.
“This places significant responsibility on banks to influence corporate environmental discipline through financial policies and guidelines that are beneficial to environmental issues, sustainable development and resources.”
She said Access Bank has been at the forefront of the campaign for sustainability, hence the need for stakeholders to discuss the importance, and integrate sustainability into their financial regulations was necessary.
Victor-Laniyan disclosed that the five awards won by Access Bank at the 2018 Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility Awards, SERAs have shown the importance Access Bank places sustainability development as well as properly reflecting the African perspective.
Kenneth Amaeshi, director of the Sustainable Business Initiative, University of Edinburg, who spoke on prioritizing sustainability for the advancement of the global financial sector, said there has been a growing interest in the development of sustainable and green financial regulations globally
“The interest is based on the increasing climate change risks for the financial sector on the one hand and on the other, a need to integrate the financial sector into a transition to a green economy.”
He said the growing adoption of sustainability practices in banks should be connected with the strategic roles financial institutions play in the economy of a nation to foster sustainable development through deliberate activities.
Also speaking at the summit, special adviser to the CBN Governor on sustainable banking, A’isha Mahmood, who spoke on climate change and its impact on financial institutions, said the discussion about the development of sustainability and green banking regulations is an evolving process that can help chart a new course for sustainable banking and finance in the coming years.
Mahmood explained that the CBN and Bankers’ Committee adopted the sustainability principles in recognition of the Nigerian banking sector’s role and responsibility to deliver positive development impacts to society whilst protecting the communities and environments in which they operate.
“We believe that such an approach, one of sustainable banking, is consistent with our individual and collective business objectives, and can stimulate further economic growth and opportunity as well as enhance innovation and competitiveness,” she said.
Group managing director/CEO of Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, who was represented by the group head, corporate communications, Amaechi Michael Okobi, said the summit was timely for industry leaders to recognise the impact of sustainability to accelerate development.
He said the summit was aimed at providing a platform for consultation on the UNEP-FI Global Responsible Banking Principles in an African context, as well as to discuss the role and responsibility of financial institutions, and their impact on the achievement of the SDGs, showcasing the pioneering work of Access Bank on Sustainability.”