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Sterling Bank embraces CSR to promote better environment

By The Citizen
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The Federal Government in 1988 established the Federal Environmental Protection Agency with the responsibility of protecting the environment, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development of Nigeria›s natural resources in general; and environmental technology, including initiation of policies in relation to environmental research and technology.

This FEPA Act 58 evolved into Decree 59 of 1992 and eventually, the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) Act 2007 in a bid to improve on the various environmental stipulations.

The agency was mandated to prepare a comprehensive national policy for the protection of the environment and conservation of natural resources, including procedure for environmental impact assessment for all development projects.

The various states of the federation have since taken a queue from the federal government and put in place agencies mandated with the responsibility of ensuring that the environment is well protected.

The Lagos State government in 1977 for instance, established the first waste management outfit in West Africa instituted as Lagos State Refuse Disposal Board (LSRDB) in Nigeria, under Edict 9 of 1977, with Powell Duffen Pollution Control Consultants of Canada as managers.

In December 1991, its current name, the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) was adopted under Edict No. 55, which made the agency to be responsible for the collection and disposal of municipal and industrial waste, as well as for the provision of commercial waste services to the state and local governments.

However, in realization that the various government agencies cannot do it all alone and concerned with the state of the environment, Sterling Bank in 2008, joined the campaign for a cleaner environment in Lagos as it went into partnership with LAWMA.

Under the partnership, the bank makes available 25,000 uniforms for street sweepers and other highway managers in the state. The bank has sustained this partnership and consistently provided LAWMA with these uniforms on an annual basis. This year, it extended the coverage to KIA (Kick Against Indiscipline) Brigades and LASTMA (Lagos State Traffic Management Authority) operators.

Strides in environmental protection
Sterling Bank Plc is taking a fresh look at ways of preserving the environment. The lender, in line with its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, has shown exceptional commitment to projects that promote environmental sustainability. These have earned it recognition at home and abroad.

From partnership with waste management authorities in over 15 states of the federation, tree planting projects, nationwide environmental cleanliness under the Sterling Environmental Make-Over (STEM), Sterling Bank has indeed given a new meaning to the concept of CSR and commitment to the good of society.

Right thinking organizations understand that their operations and the societies in which they conduct their business are in a symbiotic relationship. Hence, they see Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as core to their business existence because a company is only as successful as the communities where it operates.

For Sterling Bank Plc, the protection, preservation, cleaning, and beautification of the environment remains a priority. Its efforts in this direction have earned it recognition locally and internationally.

As a responsible organization, the lender believes that the government has a major role to play in fixing the myriad of problems in every community. It also thinks private organizations and business enterprises can partner with government in solving societal problems, especially as it concerns the environment.

The lender has CSR initiatives that are tailored towards meeting these needs of the society. For instance, over the years, it has supported initiatives aimed at identifying and promoting the preservation, protection and beautification of the environment. The bank works in collaboration with public institutions - state and local governments - to create a better environment.

From its waste management partnership with the various waste management authorities in over 15 states of the federation; its tree planting activities with target to plant a million trees in the next one year to checkmate desertification and deforestation; nationwide environmental cleaning exercises under its Sterling Environmental Make-Over (STEM) initiative, Sterling Bank has indeed given a new meaning to the concept of CSR in the country.

Sterling Bank's Executive Director, Abubakar Suleiman, explained that these projects were meant to create positive impact on the environment and society at large. Suleiman said: 'We want to keep on doing the small things while we plan the big audacious ones. Each time you reach out to a child, mentor a troubled teen or join street sweepers to clean the streets, you are part of an unstoppable force to make our world a better place and that is what we want to achieve with this exercise. What Sterling Bank is doing is to preserve lives. When you look at primary healthcare, you will observe that the bank sees life preservation as key to the growth of the society'.

Waste Management Partnership
The former Chief Executive of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Ola Oresanya, captured Sterling Bank's strides on the environment and the lender's long-standing partnership with the Lagos State Government thus: 'Sterling Bank supports our clean up exercise and also has its own initiatives in the area of environmental cleanliness. If you are going to talk about a cleaner environment, you cannot but mention Sterling Bank as one of the prominent organizations that has been at the forefront of environmental cleanliness not only in Lagos but in all the locations where it has businesses through its nationwide periodic national cleaning exercises. On an annual basis, they give us 25,000 units of uniforms for our cleaners and highway managers. CSR initiatives cannot be better than that'.

The ex-LAWMA boss said further: 'The success story of LAWMA in the last five years could be ascribed to the support received from Sterling Bank. Sterling Bank is a major partner of LAWMA. The partnership is very solid and enduring,' he said.

Oresanya praised the bank for taking a major risk by putting its name and logo on the outfits of a government institution for individuals often considered to be at the lower cadre of the society. 'We really appreciate that. Not many banks would take this risk. It is a bank that believes so much in us; they believe in our strategy, and they have taken all the risks to make sure that they support us, and we have no regrets,' he said.

The bank believes that the presentation of reflective uniforms for men and women who ensure that the environment where we all live and make our living is clean - the street sweepers and the highway managers- is in line with the lender's strategic focus on the environment as one of its CSR priorities.

The bank has extended this environmental sustainability partnership to several other states including Abia, Ekiti, Enugu, Kaduna, Ogun, Rivers, Oyo, Osun, Abuja, Anambra, Kano, Kwara and Delta states through the provision of this protective kit.

'Sterling Bank, as a responsible corporate citizen, will continually engage in initiatives that will protect the environment, especially those that are connected to the protection of lives through its renowned partnership with agencies of government responsible for the promotion of a clean environment and good health among Nigerians,' a statement from the bank said.

Staff join cleaning exercise (STEM)
Apart from providing the right working tools for the various agencies responsible for the cleaning of the environment, the staff of Sterling Bank on a quarterly basis, carry out a nationwide environmental cleaning exercise as part of its 'Sterling Environmental Makeover' (#STEM) series. The exercise, which is part of the CSR initiative of the bank focused on environmental sustainability, aims at promoting a clean environment and good health among Nigerians.

In Lagos alone, staff of the bank working in collaboration with officials of LAWMA have cleaned locations such as Oshodi Motor Park, Ikeja, Ladipo Market, Mushin Main Market, Ajegunle and just recently Oyingbo market and other locations considered dirty in other parts of the country. In most cases, people around such locations also joined Sterling Bank staff in the exercise.

'Sterling Bank came up with the national cleaning exercise in 2013 in furtherance of its core purpose of enriching lives. Since then, the Bank has continually engaged in the initiative to promote a healthy environment and lead other organizations and corporates in the drive to ensure a sustainably clean environment in various communities across the country through its renowned partnership with relevant government agencies,' the bank disclosed.

Tree Planting
Aside cleaning the environment, and in support of the federal government's plan to slow down desertification, Sterling Bank has also commenced the planting of over one million trees across the country planned to span the next one year starting with the North Eastern part of the country.

The lender had last August, flagged off the tree planting project in Plateau, Bauchi and Gombe states. The initiative was one of the solutions to cushion the effects of desertification in the country in line with the United Nation's Sustainable Developmental Goals (2016-2030) for environmental preservation, and a way of challenging other private institutions to support the initiative.

'Desertification is the process of fertile land transforming into desert typically as a result of deforestation, drought or improper/inappropriate agricultural practices. Desertification impacts directly or indirectly on all aspects of human life and the environment including the ecological, health, geo-chemical, hydrological and socio-economic facets,' the bank said.

Statistics have shown that a quarter of the earth's surface is threatened by desertification and out of the 909,890 km2 of the country's land area, about 580,841 km2 accounting for 63.83 per cent of total land is impinged on by desertification. He added that extensive cultivation, deforestation, overgrazing, cultivation of marginal land and bush burning have been identified as major causes of desertification.

'Sterling Bank has decided to join the train because desertification has done a lot of damage to the local economy as it has made farming impossible in affected areas leading to high cost of food items and hunger for farmers and their families. Apart from causing floods leading to poor water supply, desertification in affected areas ultimately leads to poverty. Without food and water, it becomes harder for people to thrive, and they take a lot of time to try and get the things that they need,' the bank stated.

The bank added that it is willing to work with relevant stakeholders with similar priorities in ensuring that the challenge of desertification is effectively addressed and conclusively dealt with to promote a better environment for the nation's economy and to ensure environmental sustainability in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. – Tribune.