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Business News of Friday, 7 January 2022

Source: www.financialnigeria.com

Sustainability is transforming Nigerian financial institutions

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Three Nigerian financial institutions, namely Access Bank PLC, Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), and Bank of Industry (BOI) are at varying stages of transformation by implementing the Sustainability Standards and Certification Initiative (SSCI) of the European Organisation for Sustainable Development (EOSD).

On 3 December 2021, Access Bank was honoured with the 2021 Karlsruhe Sustainable Finance Award in the category of the Most Outstanding Business Sustainability award, at a ceremony hosted by the EOSD in Karlsruhe, Germany. The awards ceremony wrapped up the 2021 World Development Finance Forum. Speaking at the event, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, Head of Sustainability at Access Bank, detailed how the implementation of SSCI has improved the sustainability performance of the bank, including its successful issuance of a N15 billion green bond in 2020, months into its implementation of Sustainability Standards.

Access Bank was the first African commercial bank to be sustainability certified by the EOSD, in 2020.

“Access Bank, which is not only a large commercial bank but also a leader in driving sustainability in the country’s financial sector, has already adapted the sustainability standards,” said Arshad Rab, Chairman, International Council of Sustainability Standards for Value-Driven Financial Institutions and CEO, European Organisation for Sustainable Development, Germany. “It has been conferred an award for successfully boosting its business performance through fostering inclusive prosperity in Africa, including gender-sensitive development, and by striving to support the transformation to green economy.”

Just before the sustainable finance awards ceremony, DBN became the first Nigerian Development Finance Institution (DFI), and the second in Africa, to be sustainability certified. The bank signed up to the cutting-edge Sustainability Standards in February 2021 and concluded the implementation of the rigorous and high-impact program in November.

“Development Bank of Nigeria is another testimony of the transformation in action of the Nigerian financial industry,” said Mr. Rab. “The bank has successfully adapted the holistic sustainability standards and was awarded the status of Sustainability Certified Financial Institution. By achieving this status, DBN is fully equipped to facilitate the creation of a green, inclusive and prosperous Nigerian economy.”

Bank of Industry is now set to be the third Nigerian FI to be sustainability certified. The bank was awarded Certificate of Acceptance into the program during the ceremony in Germany. According to Mr. Rab, “The Bank of Industry Nigeria has been formally admitted to the Sustainability Standards and Certification Initiative and now well on its way to become a pioneer institution to lead sustainable industrialization in Nigeria, promote entrepreneurship in the country and invest in creating a high value-added economy.”

He noted that this is indeed a ground-breaking moment for Nigeria, a beginning of a new era in which financial institutions are some of the key drivers for solving the everyday problems of their communities, such as creating decent and good paying jobs, building social, physical and digital infrastructure, fighting air pollution, preserving biodiversity, to name but a few.

He added that this should be a beginning of a historic shift in Nigeria’s financial sector, one that should soon see other financial institutions becoming part of delivering a promising future for their institutions and the country.

The awards ceremony held in-person in Karlsruhe with Covid-19 protocols observed, and participants joined virtually from around the world. The award plaque and certificates were received on behalf of the three institutions by Mr. Allison O. Valentine, First Secretary, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Germany, representing the Ambassador, H.E. Yusuf Maitama Tuggar.

SSCI delivers cutting-edge standards to create strong, profitable and value-driven financial institutions through embracing sustainability holistically, making those institutions champions in Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) performance and position them as the key players in building an inclusive, green and sustainable economy.

SSCI is administered in Nigeria through Financial Nigeria International Limited, the Country Representative of the European Organisation for Sustainable Development to Nigeria. Financial Nigeria is also the advisor to African Association of Development Finance Institutions in supporting the country’s development finance sector adapt sustainability standards.