First City MonumentBank (FCMB), has re-assured that it will continue to champion, execute and support initiatives that would enhance the ecosystem, as well as tackle some of the adverse effects of climate change and other challenges facing the environment. According to the Bank, this is in recognition of the fact that a cleaner and more sustainable environment is key to building a better world for present and future generations.
FCMB gave the assurance in a statement to commemorate this year's World Environment Day (WED), which held on June 5, 2021 under the theme, "Ecosystem Restoration". The annual WED is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and climate issues. It also serves as an opportunity to remind humanity of the need to protect the environment, as well as encourage responsible conduct by communities, enterprises and individuals in preserving and enhancing it.
Through the years, FCMB, under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) philosophy, has maintained active participation in the WED. The institution does this by organising and hosting various educative programmes, in partnership with the Nigeria Conservation Foundation and other stakeholders. For this year's edition, the Bank mobilised staff, hundreds of students and young Nigerians nationwide to plant trees in the six geopolitical zones of the country, as part of its "Go Green" initiative. The tree planting exercise, which also forms part of the Bank’s Employee Volunteering Scheme, would go a long way towards restoring the balance of the ecosystem and improving the environment.
The Bank's sustainability agenda is underpinned by the nine pillars of the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBPs) developed and adopted by the Bankers’ Committee in 2012. The NSBPs encourage Banks to promote economic growth, business opportunities, and enhance innovation and competitiveness, whilst protecting communities and the environment in the course of daily activities.
Speaking on FCMB's commitment to environmental sustainability and the WED, the Group Head, Corporate Affairs, Mr. Diran Olojo, stated that these interventions are part of the Bank's progressive journey and contribution towards making the world a better place. According to him:
"We are aware that climate change is one of the defining issues of our generation, threatening the existence and development of humanity and businesses. In Nigeria, the devastating effects of climate change are being felt through land degradation, deforestation, drought, flood, high temperature, migration, low agricultural output, unemployment, among other, negative effects. These limit opportunities for human and business growth, which is why we are committed to playing an active role to address these challenges as one of the major contributors to the development of Nigeria".
He assured that:
"As a responsible and futuristic corporate organisation, our business decisions and operations will continue to take into consideration factors that could negatively impact the environment, society and hinder long-term growth prospects. We are also focused on creating opportunities that foster realisation of the personal and business aspirations of our customers, other stakeholders and Nigeria in general in a sustainable manner. Our work in the renewable energy sector and advocacy on issues relating to the climate and environment amplify this commitment".
FCMB has over the years driven and offered significant support to initiatives that would ensure environmental protection and sustainability. The Bank executes these through robust policies and procedures embedded in its Social and Environmental Management System (SEMS).
It is worthy of note that FCMB has taken the lead in the renewable energy sector, through capacity building sessions, access to funding and provision of opportunities for developers and end-users to connect in meaningful, productive ways. The Bank has executed credit enhancement agreements worth N20.9 billion to support renewable and energy efficient projects. This is meant to improve the supply of energy, enhance cost efficiency and access to clean energy.
In addition, the lender has consistently grown its loan portfolio to mini-grid developers, commercial and industrial energy efficiency providers, and solar home system distributors. For instance, it is on track to finance projects that would deliver over 10,000 new solar-powered electricity connections to households and businesses across various communities by the end of 2021. The Bank has also developed a product for Mini-Grid developers, under the World Bank/Rural Electrification Agency (REA) of Nigeria scheme. Through this, businesses in the renewable energy sector can access loans of up to 70% of the project cost without collateral. FCMB is also set to roll-out loans to households to purchase solar home systems. This follows a successful introduction of this product for its employees to enable them procure solar power systems at a reduced rate, for use in their homes.
Among other environmental sustainability programmes, FCMB engages in corporate recycling projects through which wastes generated at its Head Office in Lagos and some of its branches in Oyo and Abia states are collected and recycled for other valuable purposes. Also, more than 100 branches of the financial institution nationwide run on solar power. This has drastically reduced carbon emissions and helped to create a cleaner environment, while delivering uninterrupted and real time services to its esteemed customers. In recognition of this feat and several other strides, FCMB was conferred with a "Sustainability Award" in March 2021 by Star sight, a leading power utility organisation.
FCMB recently took a step further by unveiling a plan to fully upscale its solar power system in all branches in Nigeria by 2025, as well as reduce cost of consumables by 75% through constant improvement in the automation of all its operating procedures. The Bank also engages its stakeholders on opportunities that solar energy provides, to enable them appreciate the importance of a carbon free environment.
Since 2016 the Bank has also consistently supported the Lagos State Government’s Cleaner Lagos Project to achieve a cleaner greener environment. The financial institution also carries out an awareness initiative, tagged "Sustainable Saturday", where posts are shared across its social media handles, encouraging individuals and organisations to take positive actions in maintaining a safe and cleaner environment.
Analysts have expressed confidence that FCMB's conscious interventions in promoting environmental protection and sustainability would go a long way to enhance its competitiveness and performance in the new world economic order.