CBN Commends Access Bank’s Commitment To Sustainable Banking Principles

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Wednesday commended the commitment of the management of Access Bank Plc to its sustainable banking principles.

The apex bank made the commendation at roundtable which it jointly hosted with the European Organization for Sustainable Development.

The event, held in Abuja was targeted at creating a world class sustainable banking and finance through embracing holistic sustainability standards for senior executives of commercial banks.

Present at the roundtable is the Deputy Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Chizoba Okoli; the CBN Director in charge of Banking Supervision Mustafa Haruna, the Special Adviser to the CBN Governor on Sustainable Banking, Dr Aisha Mahmood and the Head of Sustainability at Access Bank Plc Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan.

Also present at the event is the Director for Bank Supervision at Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Phillip Madamombe; the Chairman International Council of Sustainability Standards and Chief Executive Officer of European Organisation for Sustainable Development Arshad Rab among others.

In 2012, the Nigerian Bankers’ Committee approved the adoption of the Sustainable Banking Principles by banks, discount houses, and development finance institutions.

The principles aim to foster positive development impacts to society while protecting the communities and environment in which financial institutions and their clients operate.

The Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles cover nine principles. They are Environmental and Social Risk Management, Environmental and Social Footprint, Human Rights, Women’s Economic Empowerment, Financial Inclusion, Environmental and Social Governance, Capacity Building, Collaborative Partnerships and Reporting.

Speaking at the event, Mahmood said that three Nigeria financial institutions namely Access Bank Plc, Development Bank of Nigeria and Bank of Industry have shown tremendous commitment in the implementation of sustainable principles in the financial sector.

According to her, Access Bank is the first African commercial bank to be sustainability certified by the EOSD in 2020 while the Development Bank of Nigeria became the first Development Financial institution 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 environment, businesses and the society.

“Since the adoption of the Nigerian sustainability banking principles, the 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 explained that the CBN is reviewing the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principle which has been implemented for over a decade to align with global best practices.

The review, she added, would also align it with global sustainability imperatives and Nigeria’s national development priorities.

Also speaking, the Access Bank Deputy Manager Director said that the programme is extremely timely and present an opportunity to discuss sustainability in line with global best practices.

She said the event provides a platform to further reflect on how the Nigeria financial sector has embedded sustainability and the subsequent actions required for a good performance.

She said, “There has 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.”

Okoli told participants at the event that Access Bank sustainable development initiative cuts across a wide range of sectors, from the health and educational sectors to strengthening the vocational skills that are bound in Nigeria.

“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 society 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 United Nations Environment Programs Finance institute 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.”

Serving as Africa’s consultative leader, she said the bank has also galvanized five Nigerian banks and their CEOs to become signatories to the principles.

She recalled that in September 2020, Access Bank was presented with certificate for achieving the highest level of sustainability certification under the SSCI program by the EOSD.

“We are the first at that time 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 economic liability,” she added.

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