By Adenike Fagbemi
Industry leaders and other key stakeholders on Monday gathered at the headquarters of Access Bank Plc in Victoria Island to discuss way forward on Sustainable Development Goals at the Access Bank sustainability summit with the theme: Financing Sustainable Development.
In her speech to herald discussions at the summit, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan – Head, Sustainability at Access Bank Plc, 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 in the forefront of the campaign for sustainability, hence the need for the summit where stakeholders are expected to discuss the importance, and hopefully integrate sustainability into their financial regulations.
According to her, the five awards won by Access Bank at the 2018 CBN Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility Awards, SERAs has shown how important Access Bank sees sustainability development, and that the bank is well positioned to ensure the African perspective was well reflected.
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 is timely as industry leaders are now recognizing the impact of sustainability as a key driver to accelerating development.
He said the overarching aim of the Summit is to provide 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.”
Professor Kenneth Amaeshi, the Chair in Business and Sustainable Development and Director of the Sustainable Business Initiative, University of Edinburg who delivered the keynote address spoke on Prioritizing Sustainability for the Advancement of the Global Financial Sector, defined sustainability as impact management.
He said in recent time, 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.”
According to him, the growing adoption of sustainability practices in banks should be connected with the strategic roles financial institutions play in the economy of a nation and their capacity to foster sustainable development through their own activities, instead of being focused on niche products and internal environmental activities reducing direct impacts.
He said if a transition to a green and sustainable industry should become a serious endeavor, one of the most influential sectors, the financial industry, cannot be neglected.
Also speaking at the summit, Special Adviser to the CBN Governor on Sustainable Banking, Dr A’isha Usman 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 ongoing and evolving process that can help chart a new course for sustainable banking and finance in the coming years.