The financial institutions, Polaris Bank and Wema Bank have partnered the United Nations, and other leading banks across the world, to become a Founding Signatory of the UNEP FI Principles for Responsible Banking as part of their commitment to climate action and sustainability.
The launch and apporoving ceremony of the UNEP FI Principles for Responsible Banking was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York, United States.
In a statement Polaris Bank’s Managing Director/CEO, Tokunbo Abiru, said: “This momentous action to become a founding signatory of the UNEP FI Principles for Responsible Banking, is borne out of the need to have and practice tenets, values and principles that enable us as a financial institution to exist and excel amidst constant market changes.
“We believe that responsible business practices or principles is not just the right choice, but the only choice, knowing this will ensure long-term societal investments needed for sustainable development; contribute to financial stability and guarantee the success and continuity of the economy.”
In addition, Abiru noted that, “Over the years, we have collaborated with both Government agencies and non-governmental organisations to fight tropical diseases, continually provide financial education across all levels through financial literacy and we have also taken steps to ensure our direct and indirect actions as a responsible Bank do not impact the environment negatively. Hence the alignment is a journey we have begun and are fully committed to.”
In this direction, Wema Bank explained that as expressed in the Principles for Responsible Banking, it aims to contribute to an inclusive society founded on human dignity, equality and the sustainable use of natural resources for clients, customers and businesses thrive.
Commenting on this launch, the bank’s MD/CEO, Ademola Adebise explicated: “At Wema Bank, the journey has started with our sustainability vision of developing “Digital Solutions for Societal Impact.”
“The landscape is wide, but we believe that with the use of technology and through innovation, daily improvements can be made to the society that we operate in.
“As a deliberate strategy, we will continue to drive our corporate sustainability initiatives with a focus on reducing our environmental footprint, promoting responsible business practices and creating shared value for our stakeholders.
“Our long-term aspiration is to become a responsible stakeholder in the growing digital economy, with capacity for increased innovation to identify untapped opportunities in the market space and impact positively on the society, environment and business,” Adebise added.
According to the Wema Bank boss, by signing up to the Principles, the bank commits to using its products, services and relationships to support and accelerate the fundamental changes in the society to enable shared prosperity for both current and future generations.
By signing them, Wema Bank disclosed that it has pledged to be transparent on both a positive and negative impact on people and planet.
“The bank will focus where it has the greatest impact – on its core business – and set, publish and implement ambitious targets to scale up positive and address any negative impacts in line with global and local goals.
“The signing will avail Wema Bank the opportunity for an effective framework to systematically identify and seize new business opportunities created by the emerging sustainable development economy, while at the same time enabling the bank to effectively identify and address related risks,” the statement added.
Alongside the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen, stated that “a banking industry that plans for the risks associated with climate change and other environmental challenges can not only drive the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient economies, it can benefit from it.
“When the financial system shifts its capital away from resource-hungry, brown investments to those that back nature as solution, everybody wins in the long-term.”
“The UN Principles for Responsible Banking are a guide for the global banking industry to respond to, drive and benefit from a sustainable development economy.
“The Principles create the accountability that can realize responsibility, and the ambition that can drive action.” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the launch event, attended by the 130 Founding Signatories and over 45 of their CEOs.
However the Principles for Responsible Banking were developed by a core group of 30 Founding Banks through an innovative global partnership between banks and the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). UNEP FI is the UN-private sector collaboration that includes membership of more than 250 financial institutions around the globe.