By Solomon Nda-Isaiah,
Access Bank’s Head of Sustainability, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, at the recently held United Nations Global Compact Business LIVE event revealed the practical ways in which the Bank works to ensure the application of its sustainability pact.
Emphasising the interrelatedness of innovation, sustainability and collaboration in helping organisations navigate policies in their business operations, Victor-Laniyan noted that Access Bank has collaborated with various stakeholders and built models that highlight this.
“Through our partnership with SMEFunds, a social enterprise, we have sought to end poverty by promoting sustainable enterprise development. This partnership helps nature to recover itself by curbing the felling and selling of trees in rural Nigerian communities. Furthermore, following the launch of the new Access Bank brand in 2019, we launched the Paper2Pencil initiative, that enabled us convert old branded notebooks and paper into pencils. Today, we’ve distributed those pencils to over 10,030 students across Nigeria,” Victor-Laniyan said.
Despite the environmental and health implications of cooking with firewood, with some 93000 annual deaths related to smoke inhalation from household pollution caused by firewood smoke (per data from The International Centre for Energy, Environment, and Development), millions of Nigerian households still employ this cooking method. To curb this issue, Access Bank distributed bio gel powered cooking technology to entrepreneurs (predominantly female), while also training and issuing grants to help beneficiaries start-off their respective businesses.
Asked how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected private-public sector partnership, Victor-Laniyan opined that COVID-19 had accelerated public-private sector partnership, citing the Access Bank led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) as one example among many. The initiative stepped in to improve Nigeria’s testing and treatment capacity at the onset on the pandemic, setting up state of the art testing and treatment centres across the country.
The high-level panel discussion which was themed “Principles-based Environmental Innovations: Practical Decision Making for Climate Action” enabled stakeholders to take stock of the state of the world concerning the gaps in progress, driving business ambition on the SDGs and highlighting practical examples and actionable solutions. The session was held to mark the opening of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Closing out her discussion, Victor-Laniyan expressed optimism about the UN’s target 2030 date for the achievement of the SDGs. “I see 2030 as a year we would look back and be grateful we took the decisions that we did in 2015 about the SDGs as I want to imagine that the carbon emissions will be a far cry from where we are now. I see a world where every breath will be cleaner, one where nature will be recovering and we will have a green and liveable city where the use of single-use plastics will be a distant memory. A world where clean electricity now dominates the energy sector and a planet that would have undergone a lot of deep decarbonising efforts,” she concluded.