To achieve the targets of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), the financial services sector would have to play fundamental roles.
The President and Chairman in Council, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Professor Segun Ajibola, stated this at the 2016 Annual Lecture of the institute, with the theme “Sustainable Development Goals and the Financial Services Sector: The Meeting Point,” that took place in Lagos recently.
Delivering his opening remark at the event, Ajibola said the topic on sustainable development goals came at the right time, saying the event was being held when the natural resources was being threatened by human activities.
He said it was important to strike a balance between the need to provide financial services and products to the over 30 million financially excluded adults in the country as a way of reducing poverty and simultaneously ensure the preservation of the environment.
According to him, the forum was organised with the aim of highlighting key issues and generating ideas that would assist policy makers and operators in the economy carry out their functions and to keep the discerning members of the public abreast of current developments both within their immediate environment and globally.
Speaking further, the CIBN boss pointed out that it was obvious that the financial services sector would play fundamental roles in the achievement the SDG goals.
“The banking sector, in particular, by virtue of its financial intermediating function receives deposits from the public and in turn lends out the funds for productive purposes. This intermediating function makes fund available to government and entrepreneurs who channel the funds into sectors such as education, health, energy, infrastructure, and manufacturing.
“Hence, the financial services sector needs to be strategic its allocation of resources to ensure that productive activities having minimal ecological footprint and high impacts on social and economic growth and development are given preferential funding,” he noted.
In her keynote speech, the Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed said sustainability is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today.
The minister who was represented at the event by the Director-General, Forest Research Institute of Nigeria, Mr Adesola Adepoju, said: “There should be focus on the environmental impacts of financial products rather than merely the impact of internal operations; in view of the general systematic approach to business by commercial banks, further use of EMS appears to be an effective way forward for the sector.”