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By NBF News
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The Bankers Committee yesterday said it will develop sustainable banking principles for the Nigerian banking sector, to drive long-term growth and help the industry focus on development priorities, as well as safeguard the environment and its people.

The Committee comprises the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, Chief Executive of Banks and selected financial institutions.

The decision of the committee was contained in a statement by Governor and Deputy Governors of  CBN, Managing Director and Chief Executives of all the banks, the Committee. The statement titled, Joint Statement of Commitment by members of the Bankers Committee 'The Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles', said, 'As leaders in the Nigerian financial sector, we are uniquely positioned to further economic growth and development in Nigeria through our regulatory, lending and investment activities across a diversity of segments and sectors of the Nigerian economy.

'The context in which we make business decisions is, however, characterized by complex and growing challenges relating to population growth, urban migration, poverty, destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems, pressure on food sources, prices and security, lack of energy and infrastructure and potential climate change legislation from our trade partners, amongst others.

'Increasingly, it has been demonstrated that the development imperative in Nigeria should not only be economically viable, but socially relevant and environmentally responsible. We recognize that we have a role and responsibility to deliver positive development impacts to society whilst protecting the communities and environments in which we operate - for today's generation as well as for future generations.

We believe that such an approach, one of sustainable banking, is consistent with our individual and collective business objectives, and can stimulate further economic growth and opportunity as well as enhance innovation and competitiveness.

'Given the above considerations, we are prepared to take steps to ensure that our business decision-making activities take these considerations into account and are, where applicable, consistent with applicable international standards and practices, but with due regard for the Nigerian context and distinct development needs'.

'Consequently, we hereby state our commitment to developing and launching a voluntary set of Nigerian sustainable banking principles which will include:

An over-arching set of guidelines relating to our: (a) direct impacts on communities and the environment as a result of our own business operations; and indirect impacts on communities and the environment as a result of our lending and investment activities;

A set of sector-specific guidelines, including as a first priority: (a) oil and gas; (b) power (with a focus on renewable energy); and

(c) agriculture and related water resource issues;

A commitment to raising awareness and developing meaningful and lasting local capacity to manage emerging environmental and social risks and opportunities within our internal operations, as well as to relevant financial sector government agencies, learning institutions and service providers.

'In developing these sustainable banking principles, we recognize the need for a process which involves the engagement of relevant stakeholders and industry experts. We also recognize the need for an approach which provides for appropriate levels of transparency, accountability and self-assessment through regular reporting to our stakeholders. We will seek to work with the Central Bank of Nigeria, other relevant government agencies and development finance institutions to create the enabling environment as well as the incentives and enforcement mechanisms required for successful adoption and uptake of the sustainable banking principles.

We acknowledge that we can better support environmentally and socially responsible economic development in Nigeria by joining forces rather than standing alone. We hereby sign this Joint Commitment Statement with the aim of developing a set of sustainable banking principles for the Nigerian banking sector, to drive long-term sustainable growth whilst focusing on development priorities, safeguarding the environment and our people, and delivering measurable benefits to society and the real economy.'