Access Bank, others urge businesses to pursue sustainability strategies for secure future
Financial institutions and businesses have been advised to identify and integrate sustainability strategies into their operations to ensure a secure future for them and attainment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
These and many more dominate discussions at the Access Bank Sustainability awareness week with the theme ‘Together for a Sustainable Future.’
Access Bank and other experts who spoke at the conference stated that businesses can do so by developing An Environmental and Social System that can be integrated into their existing risks management framework including risk assessments process for transactions.
“A well-developed environment and social management system can lead to decrease exposure to environmental and social risks and increased market opportunities and social reputation which helps contribute to a sustainable business,” said Tayo Taiwo, an environmental expert.
Taiwo, who is also the MD of Xploits Consulting Limited explained that considering environmental and social risks as part of the risk appraisal process for transactions helps a financial institution to decrease its exposure to overall risk and contributes to its long-term financial viability.
He identified environmental, social and financial risks as factors why financial institutions must embrace Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) because of its ambitious and wide-ranging set of global environmental, social and economic targets.
Also speaking during the weeklong event, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, head -sustainability, Access Bank, on why her financial institution has chosen to adopt sustainability practice, she explained that the is totally committed to sustainability because they believe that sustainability is the only and the right way to do business.
‘We formalised this commitment about 11-years ago when we established our Standard Sustainability Function and ever since then, we have been going along on the journey. Five years into our journey, we initiated the legal development of the Nigerian Sustainability Banking Principles which today is adopted by World Bank that operates with the Central Bank of Nigeria,” she said.
“So, on an annual basis we celebrate what we refer to as the Sustainability Awareness Week and bring onboard stakeholders to share experiences, share knowledge and hold our various stakeholders to go together on the sustainability journey,” she added.
Abiola Oshunniyi, chief responsibility officer,Parallel Point Consult, said there is a broad consensus that the financial services industry, of which Access Bank plays an important role has a vital role to play promoting sustainable development.
He said given the strategic importance of banks in the value chains of critical sectors such as agriculture, energy, and trade, the role of banks in the sustainable development of Nigeria cannot be underestimated.
According to him, the goals are chiefly designed to promote the transition to a more viable future.
“These goals are ambitious and embrace a wide range of environmental, social and economic issues, including climate change, energy, water stewardship, marine conservation, biodiversity, poverty, food security, sustainable production and consumption, gender equality and economic growth,” he said.
Rhoda Robinson, executive director, HACEY, also a member of the panel, said leading financial services companies should identify and measure their contributions to the SDGs, integrate their achievements into sustainability reporting processes and commission comprehensive external monitoring.