Businesses in the country, especially financial institutions have been charged to commit more resources into the principles of sustainability if they want to thrive locally and globally.
The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on SDGs, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire and other stakeholders stated this at a 2-day Sustainability Summit hosted by Access Bank, with the theme: Financing Sustainable Development, in Lagos.
Delivering a keynote address, Orelope-Adefulire, said the federal government was committed to implementing a national sustainability roadmap for the financial sector.
She said the federal government had put some mechanisms in place to ensure hitch-free implementation of the SDGs, adding, “The establishment of my office is a carry-over from the former MDGs under the presidency. There is also a House Committee on SDGs at the lower chamber, while there is a counterpart Senate Committee in the upper chamber to also provide oversight function and appropriate appropriation for SDGs.”
“There is an inter-ministerial committee on the SDGs established to guide the coordinated engagement with Ministries, Departments and Agencies. There is also a Private Sector Advisory Group on SDGs and the Civil Society Strategy Group on SDGs,” she added.
In a paper titled, “A New Sustainability Frontier: Business and Population Health”, Dr. Eugene Kongnyuy, who is the Country Representative, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said Nigerian businesses have treated sustainability as a dispensable philanthropic option.
While emphasising that corporate sustainability was a form of self-regulation driven by the values and philosophy of a business, Kongnyuy said focus of most businesses has been on survival, and as such, the pursuit of sustainability is seen as not necessarily good for business.
According to him, becoming more sustainable, or “going green”, is a priority at UNFPA.
“With its significant purchasing power and large number of partners, the organisation is committed to integrating environmental sustainability into its procurement practices”
Speaking on the topic, “From Materiality to Strategy: How Organisations Can Mainstream Sustainability”, Professor Ken Amaeshi, Chair in Business and Sustainable Development and Director of the Sustainable Business Initiative, University of Edinburgh, said there’s a global appetite to incorporate environmental, social and governance risks in lending and investment decisions.
He said the broader view of sustainability underlines the value of environmental, social, and economic considerations in decision making.
“It’s directly linked to a quest for development that doesn’t inhibit or harm future generations. It recognises the nested inter-dependency between the economy, society and the environment”, he added.
Earlier in her opening remarks, Head of Sustainability at Access Bank Plc, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan said the bank was fully committed to the principles of sustainability.
She said since the renewed effort by the government on sustainability, Access Bank has been playing a pivotal role among other financial institutions in Nigeria at ensuring that the principles of sustainability is brought out to the fore.
“We have over the years contributed in no small measures to the development of the principles of sustainability, and it cuts across all sectors in Nigeria. Be it in education, health and many others, we have always extended our kind gestures at developing the society where we operate,” Victor-Laniyan said.