Arshad Rab, chairman of the International Council of Sustainability Standards for Value-Driven Financial Institutions and CEO of EOSD has said shifting towards sustainability-certified financial institutions is crucial to align investments with environmental and social goals.
At the Nigeria Sustainability Summit 2023, themed “Crisis-Resilient and New Nigerian Economy,” during his keynote speech, Rab emphasised how crucial it is in propelling Nigeria from its slow-paced conventional economy to a 21st-century model driven by innovation and high-speed progress.
“We envisage sustainability-certified financial institutions to be at the forefront of this change to enable Nigeria to move from conventional economic development at snail’s pace to 21st-century high-speed high innovation, economic progress,” Rab said.
Rab highlighted the Octagon value creation model, a sustainability standard, that includes; governance, management technology, business models, operations, products, stakeholder relations, and human capital.
He noted that the Octagon value model delivers a system to identify, evaluate, prioritize, manage, and report opportunities emerging from the drive to create a new economy that is socially inclusive, resource-efficient, low or zero emissions, green and sustainable.
“Octagon value creation model ingrained sustainability in the soul of the organisation,” Rab said.
He added that one of the distinctive features of sustainability standards in general and crisis management in particular, is about turning the challenges as they emerge into new opportunities.
Rab noted that the SSCI is the world’s most comprehensive sustainability framework under the sustainability standards and certification initiative.
Philip Madamombe, director of banking supervision, at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, noted that the fundamental shift from a crisis-prone economy to fostering high-value socially inclusive, green and climate-friendly economic development of Nigeria is through a sustainability-driven financial industry, an active engagement of the corporate sector and other major economic players.
Jide Akintunde, publisher of Financial Nigeria magazine, noted that for any organization, particularly a financial institution, investing in robust leadership at the board level is paramount for achieving long-term success, especially when prioritizing investments in sustainability initiatives.
“Investing in leadership, particularly at the board level, is crucial for any organization, especially financial institutions. It’s a wise decision that goes beyond addressing traditional challenges and paves the way for new and groundbreaking solutions,” Akintunde said.
Akintunde noted that by diligently navigating the eight facets of the Octagon model, organizations can unlock the true potential of the SSCI initiative.
“It’s a roadmap towards not just financial success, but also towards creating a more sustainable and equitable future for all,” Akintunde added.
Ibukun Beecroft a partner at Deloitte noted that the Octagon model moves beyond traditional financial metrics, but sees the organization as part of a larger ecosystem.
“Imagine business as a thriving ecosystem, to sustain it, there is a need to nurture all the elements: environment, social fabric, and responsible governance. That’s where Environmental Social Governance (ESG) comes in.
“This implies weaving it into strategy, setting clear goals like planting seeds for the future, and carefully measuring the growth. This isn’t just about ticking boxes; it’s about cultivating a sustainable future for all stakeholders,” Beecroft said.