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Financial sector embraces ESG certification for sustainability

Three institutions have launched a certification programme to align Ghana’s financial sector with global sustainability standards and ensure long-term resilience.

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The institutions are the Chartered Institute of Bankers Ghana (CIB Ghana), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Dubbed “Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Certification Programme”, it is designed to equip financial institutions with the expertise needed to navigate the evolving ESG landscape.

It would also help professionals within Ghana's financial sector to proactively manage environmental, social and governance risks, and identify and capitalise on emerging ESG opportunities.

The programme is structured around six modules delivered over a 10-week period, with classes meeting twice a week for two days in each session.
 

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At the launch in Accra,  the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CIB, Robert Dzato, said financial institutions faced environmental and social risks with every transaction, influenced by clients’ operations.

He said recognising this growing concern, Bank of Ghana (BoG) established the Sustainable Banking Principles to guide the banking sector; however, effectively integrating sustainability required skilled and a knowledgeable workforce.

“This is precisely where CIB Ghana and EPA's new programme comes in,” he added.

He explained that despite a delay due to COVID-19, the institute was determined to press ahead with the initiative as it is convinced the programme will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of Ghana’s banking sector, aligning it with global sustainability standards and ensuring long-term resilience.

“The ESG certification programme that we are about to launch today – thanks to the partnership between the CIB, EPA and supported by IFC and SECO, marks yet another milestone in our banking landscape that represents a significant advancement in the banking sector’s capacity to manage emerging risks.”

 
Potential

The Second Deputy Governor-Bank of Ghana (BoG), Elsie Addo Awadzi, said BoG with support from IFC rolled out several programmes aimed at orienting, training and building the capacity of banks’ staff at all levels – as well as engaging with boards of banks to help with the principles’ smooth implementation and sector guidance notes, and to help with reporting on compliance.

She explained that based on the banks reporting to BoG, it observed a continuous improvement in compliance levels, disclosing that the average compliance rate for banks as of the end of December 2023 was 62.5 per cent.

Mrs Awadzi said the apex bank recognised ESG as a key priority area that must be harnessed to help promote responsible, inclusive and equitable growth, development and resilience for the banking sector and wider economy.

“I strongly encourage the industry to take full advantage of this, and call on educational institutions to partner with CIB to make this even stronger,” she urged.

 
Operating responsibly 

For his part, IFC Senior Country Manager for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Kyle Kelhofer, stressed that ESG considerations were essential for business sustainability and resilience.

He said the basis of the course was IFC Performance Standards, which served as a framework for managing environmental and social risks.

“These standards provide a robust framework for businesses to operate responsibly, ensuring that they mitigate negative impacts while enhancing positive outcomes. By incorporating the IFC Performance Standards, we aim to equip participants with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate the complex landscape of ESG issues effectively,” he said.

The Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Dr John Kingsley Krugu, emphasised the unique role financial institutions played in promoting investments that yielded financial returns while benefiting environmental protection and social development.

He praised CIB Ghana for developing a curriculum that is rigorous and forward-thinking, which aligned with the global goals of climate change mitigation and resource conservation.

He further encouraged all to embrace sustainability principles as a means to create shared value for future generations and called for the development of a robust business and financial ecosystem that harmonised profitability with environmental conservation and social well-being.

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