Financial institutions key to SDGs attainment – Minister

Ahe Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, has said that financial institutions are vital to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals over the next 15 years.

She said sustainable development was about capital allocation and should be at the core of financial market activities, saying all stakeholders such as governments, private sector, civil society and the financial sector of the economy must play their roles effectively, for the SDGs to be reached.

Mohammed spoke at the 2016 annual lecture of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria held in Lagos.

The lecture has its theme as, ‘Sustainable Development Goals and the financial services sector: The meeting point.’

According to the minister, the Federal Government is willing to create an enabling environment for bankers to achieve the goals.

In her paper presentation, the minister, who was represented by the Director-General, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Dr. Adesola Adepoju, said, “The greatest potential of the commercial banking sector is in its relationship with the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, where banks can be very influential, and by providing information.

Mohammed said, “Where banks have been less progressive is in developing new financial products with an environmental perspective for big business and individuals, such as energy-efficiency loans; but encouraging the development of such products appears desirable.”

The President/Chairman of Council, CIBN, Prof. Segun Ajibola, said the financial services sector would need to play fundamental roles in the achievement of the “set of 17 aspiration goals with 169 targets.”

Ajibola said, “The banking sector, in particular, by virtue of its financial intermediating function receives deposits from the public and in turn lends out the funds for productive purposes.

“Hence, the financial services sector needs to be strategic in its allocation of resources to ensure that productive activities having minimal ecological footprint and high impact on social and economic growth and development are given preferential funding.”

The Chairman of the event and former Minister of Health, Prof. Eyitayo Lambo, said, “Financial institutions are therefore expected to contribute to maintaining necessary balance among the three pillars of sustainability.

“They are expected, under the SDGs agenda, to carry out their activities and run their operations to be focused on doing little or no harm to people and their environment. They are expected to play key role in driving long-term economic development and must do so in a way not only economically viable to them but must be environmentally responsible and socially relevant.”