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How Stanbic IBTC is paving the environmental sustainability road for financial institutions in Nigeria

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How Stanbic IBTC is paving the environmental sustainability road for financial institutions in Nigeria

There is no doubt that the Climate Pact launched at the COP26 summit in Glasgow will reshape the agenda for global business. If anything, the summit signaled an accelerated shift in the business world.

Since the global energy transition is seeing more inflow of cash than ever before, shareholders and stakeholders are calling companies to account for their environmental, social, and governance performance.

Also, the risks and costs of going green are shifting in favor of the UN Convention on Climate Change. Needless to say that it is no longer business-as-usual; sustainability is becoming more important for all companies, across all industries.

Climateaction.Africa (CA) spoke with Omolola Fashesin, the dynamic and detail-oriented Head of Sustainability for Stanbic IBTC Holdings to learn how Stanbic IBTC is building environmental resilience while raising the sustainability bar for other financial institutions in Nigeria.

CA: Can you tell us about yourself?

My name is Omolola Fashesin; I am a professional with an extensive career in Finance, Enterprise Risk Management, and Sustainability in the financial sector. I currently work as the Head of Sustainability for Stanbic IBTC.

I attended the University of Ibadan, where I obtained a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Agricultural Economics. I hold a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, United Kingdom.

I am a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and an associate member of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).  In addition to this, I am a Credential Holder of the Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting (FSA) Certification and the first person to attain that status in Nigeria.

CA: As the head of sustainability of a leading financial institution in Nigeria, what are your roles or responsibilities?

Omolola: First and foremost, my role is to drive a sustainability culture in the organization so that it doesn’t become lip service or a buzzword. We aim to drive a culture where every person in the organization is aware of their roles and responsibilities in order to identify Stanbic IBTC as a sustainability-driven organization.

Some of my responsibilities include identifying issues that are material to our business, developing sustainability strategies to address these issues, and then demonstrating and reporting our impacts. I also work with other areas of the company to set sustainability targets, establish governance and accountability, define action plans to achieve those targets, monitor, report, and evaluate the performance against the set targets.

CA: Stanbic IBTC has four sustainability pillars upon which it operates. So I am keen to know what the bank is doing in terms of building environmental resilience, which is one of the pillars.

Omolola: Environmental resilience is about managing our environmental footprint. We have done, and we are doing quite a lot. I will start with energy efficiency in our operations. One of our initiatives is called operations SOUP, which is an acronym for Switch Off and Unplug. We encourage staff members to switch off and unplug electronic devices at the end of the day to save power consumption.

We also have the power down initiative whereby across our head offices and branch locations, we power down our elevators at 6:00 pm. In addition to the energy efficiency derived from this initiative, we also derive positive impacts on work-life balance because if power is off by 6:00 pm, it means you need to wrap up and go home.

As part of our energy conservation initiatives, we have also dedicated Wednesday as a no-lift day in our organization. So that too has a double impact. It helps us save energy as a company, but not only that; it contributes to the health and wellness of our staff as they are encouraged to use the stairs.

Recently, we undertook a project to retrofit some of our office buildings to make them more energy-efficient. We also installed energy-efficient appliances such as LED bulbs, and as our old air conditioning units cycle out, we replace them with newer energy-efficient air conditioning units.

We are adopting cleaner energy solutions in our office locations and offsite ATM locations. Currently, we have almost 30 bank branch locations and 80 ATMs onboarded on solar energy solutions. Also, nine of our pension office locations are running on solar energy solutions. In our head office locations in Idejo and Walter Carrington, we have switched to a natural gas power supply, a cleaner form of energy compared to diesel.

Additionally, we have introduced the Go-green branch initiative, a prototype branch where we reduce paper usage, energy consumption, and water consumption. The aim of the Go-green initiative is to achieve about a 30% reduction (from the baseline year) in energy consumption and paper usage in those branches.

Beyond the specific Go-green program, we have recently undertaken several branch process improvements targeted at improving operational efficiency and eliminating paper use. So far, we have tried to eliminate the use of papers in about 12 branch processes and are still working on other areas of improvement.

Going beyond our paper reduction solutions/initiatives, we are also undertaking a wastepaper recycling program, which involves exchanging our waste papers (with a paper recycling firm) in return for tissue papers. This way, we reduce the amount of wastes we send to the landfill.

Since the commencement of this initiative in 2018, we have recycled over 21 tonnes of waste papers. We are also expanding our waste recycling program to include PET bottles and cans. To support our waste recycling program in our head office locations, we have installed waste segregation bins which help with waste sorting from the source.

In a nutshell, these are some of the key programs and initiatives executed under the pillar – Building Environmental Resilience.

CA: According to Stanbic IBTC’s 2020 sustainability report, it was highlighted that the bank made some contributions toward promoting women’s economic empowerment through climate-resilient agribusinesses. Can you please tell us what has been the impact so far?

Omolola: We partnered with United Nations Women to help women farmers by facilitating sustainable agricultural practices which would increase production whilst minimizing adverse impacts on the environment.

The Climate Smart Agriculture project was designed to achieve transformative change for women’s economic empowerment. The selected value chains are rice and shea butter, with focus states being Ebonyi (rice) and Niger (shea butter), as women dominate these value chains in the targeted states.

The key approaches adopted are training and market linkage. So far, we have been able to train almost 6,500 women in the two states across the following topical areas: Farming Best Practice; Gender-Responsive Climate-Smart Agronomic Practices; Improved Climate Resilient Crop Production; Access to Land Network and Community Adaptation; Business Development and Value Chain Analysis/Development; Soap, Cosmetics, and Shea Butter Production; and Maintenance of Basic Shea Butter Processing Equipment.

CA: It’s been stated that Nigeria has a goal of reaching net-zero by 2060. What initiative has Stanbic IBTC put into place to support this ambition?

Omolola: At Stanbic IBTC, we support the government’s aim to achieve net-zero by 2050. The Standard Bank Group (of which Stanbic IBTC is a member) has also committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. In line with this commitment, we are taking practical steps on two fronts:

Building Environmental Resilience is one of our four Sustainability pillars in Stanbic IBTC, and it demonstrates our focus on environmental footprint management. In line with this sustainability pillar, we have implemented and continue to expand on programs aimed at reducing carbon emissions associated with our business operations.

Some of these activities include understanding our energy sources and consumption patterns and identifying possible areas for efficiency. In addition, the adoption of cleaner energy sources in our office locations leveraging Autogas and Solar energy solutions and tree planting activities which will help us with carbon sequestration.

Furthermore, as part of our sustainability strategy, we have identified Climate Change and Sustainable Finance as one of our seven impact areas. Thus, we actively seek and leverage opportunities to provide financing and investment solutions to clients on climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.

In addition to the above, we continue to drive awareness on net-zero both internally and externally through webinars- like our Net-zero webinar held in September 2021- corporate mailers, and tips circulated via our social media platforms.

CA: In terms of environmental sustainability what is Stanbic IBTC hoping to achieve come 2022?

Omolola: As I previously mentioned, Building Environmental Resilience is one of our four Sustainability pillars in Stanbic IBTC. Under this pillar, we identified programs and initiatives material to our operations, with a focus on managing our environmental footprints.

Specific milestones and targets were thus defined, and for the year 2022, some of these include: increasing the number of our office locations running on renewable energy (solar solutions); installation of energy monitoring systems in specified office locations; expanding our existing waste recycling program to branch locations.

CA: I understand that Stanbic IBTC’s ambition is to become the leading financial institution driving sustainable finance solutions in Nigeria. In view of this, is the Bank working solo or collaborating with any organization, agency, or government to realize this goal?

Omolola: As you are aware, partnership for the goals is a very important Sustainable Development Goal. I will start by discussing our partnership with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) in Lagos. We are working with the NCF to implement our tree planting projects. We believe that tree planting presents a practical approach to offsetting carbon emissions.

We also partnered with the NCF as a corporate sponsor with periodic subscriptions channeled towards the organization’s environmental conservation programs.

In terms of providing financing, we partner with our clients operating in the renewable energy space; a case in point is Starsight, a dominant player in the solar energy space in Nigeria.

We have partnered with other notable organizations and have participated in strategic programs, financing, and investment solutions/projects aimed at driving specific sustainability-related agendas.

Some of these include the UN Women Agric Project, Lagos Business School Enterprise Development Centre (EDC), Fate Foundation; The Nigeria Exchange Group (on the Nigeria2Equal programme); Nigerian Green Bond Development Program  and the Federal Government of Nigeria; amongst others.

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