According to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, in a speech given on the 2nd of December 2020 and titled, “The State of the Planet”, the world is facing the highest level of environmental degradation ever recorded in history.
This degradation has caused the alarming rate at which different parts of the earth have become inhabitable for plants, animals and humans.
Similarly, “The State of the Global Climate: Unpacking the Indicators” report released by the World Metrological Organisation shows that in the past 28 years, there has been a dismal rise in the melting of sea ice and glaciers, changes in precipitation patterns, and temperature increase over land and seas that has affected the balance of nature.
These daunting realities point to the need to prioritize environmental preservation by not just organisations saddled with this task but by all individuals and organizations. Many organisations have thus risen to this challenge, going as far as automating processes that ensure a drastic reduction on their environmental footprints.
On the Nigerian scene, however, it appears this urgency is lost on citizens as only a handful of companies and individuals are paying attention to this evolving development despite the presence of the ripple effects like food scarcity, extreme weather, flooding, etc. A leading financial institution, Fidelity Bank PLC, is however bucking this trend by introducing several initiatives to reverse environmental degradation.
One of the ways the tier-two bank is driving this is by altering its procedures and processes to ensure that its operations are environment friendly. It has also contributed towards addressing certain environment degrading activities like deforestation.
Within 18 years, Nigeria has lost 14% of its total tree cover, per statistics from the Global Forest Watch. This loss has led to widespread desert encroachment in the north and erosion in the south of the country. Thankfully, Fidelity Bank PLC and other visionary institutions have begun reversing this ugly trend.
“Environment forms one of the five pillars of our CSR thrust as an organisation. At Fidelity Bank, we recognise the importance of preserving the environment and that informs the numerous programmes we have deployed to reduce our carbon footprint as well as preserve and beautify the ecosystem. Not only is this the right thing to do, we owe it to the unborn generations to bequeath them a planet that is suitable for human habitation. After all, this is the only home we have,” explained the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe.
The bank has collaborated with both state and local governments to create and maintain green parks in select locations across the country. The beautification of the Falomo Roundabout in Ikoyi, Lagos State, for instance, is a prime example of how its partnership with the Lagos State Government is helping to restore the natural aesthetic of a metropolitan area. Other locations across the country include Onikan, Eko Court, Apapa and BBA all in Lagos State; Krika Sama Roundabout, Kano; as well as specific areas in Maiduguri, Ibadan, and Enugu amongst others.
In the area of Environmental Protection and Renewal, the bank partners with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) and participates actively in its annual “Walk for Nature” event, an advocacy programme organised to create awareness on nature conservation and good environmental practices.
Other remarkable green initiatives of the Bank include the use of recycled biodegradable cash bags to dispense cash instead of polyethylene bags, in compliance with relevant International Accords and Protocols aimed at promoting sustainability, like the Equator Accord (Equator Principles).
With these initiatives, Fidelity Bank is no doubt playing a pivotal role in stemming the spate of environmental degradation that has plagued the nation for many years. Nevertheless, there’s room to do more and it is hoped that other organizations and individuals will follow the bank’s lead and contribute their own quota in making our planet more habitable for the current and future generations.