Sustainable Banking Principles, Addressing Environmental And Social Challenges

There seems to be more global awareness by banking institutions in recent times towards addressing the environmental and social impacts of their services.

In Nigeria, there is a set of principles on sustainable banking which is geared towards ensuring that these financial institutions are environmentally friendly.

Bank’s financial services are used too often for activities which are harmful to the environment, human rights and social equity.

However, in whatever way we look at it, banks can be powerful agents of change.

Environmentalist, Lekan Fadina, helps to highlight the economic relevance of climate change to businesses and return of investments.

Fadina lauded the Sustainable Banking Principles as adopted by Nigerian banks in the year 2012. He noted that if properly implemented, it would address the issues of environment, economy and all that could be as a result of climate change.

Special Assistant to the CBN Governor of Sustainable Banking, Dr Aisha Mahmud, explained that there are certain global forces that are making businesses and organisations to imbibe sustainability, such as the recent financial crisis.”

She however said, “Nationally there are pressing environmental and social issues, such as poverty, youth unemployment, gender inequality, climate change, deforestation, food insecurity that made the Nigerian financial sector to come together and develop this Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles.

“Basically what it means is that, instead of focusing on profit, we now have to do a balancing act and look at environmental and social considerations as well, and this is for us to be able to achieve sustainable development.”

Earthfile presents how the financial institutions would do their business operations and activities to achieve the goals of the Sustainable Banking Principles.  It starts by highlighting the environmental and social risks involved in their operations.

Enjoy the video.

Earthfile: Nigeria’s Water Sector And The Threat Of Climate Change

This edition of Earthfile looks at water and the increasing threat to it by climate change with the effects this is having on Nigeria.

The world’s surface water is affected by varying levels of precipitation, evaporation and run-off in different regions. In recent times, there is an increasing concern that it is subject to increasing climate change and variability which is compounding its capacity to meet human needs and demands.

A World Bank report estimated in the 1990s that Nigeria was losing about 5.1 billion US Dollars per annum to environmental degradation. In the face of limited mitigation measures and initiatives, climate change is among the most pressing examples of global environmental challenges being faced.

Research has also shown that Nigeria’s water sector is highly vulnerable to global warming induced climate change.

Climate Change and Environment Consultant, Professor Emmanuel Oladapo and Environmentalist, Desmond Majekodunmi were on the programme to analyse the situation and provide recommendations.

NESG Holds Consultation On Agriculture

The Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) has held a consultation forum for stakeholders in the agriculture sector to ensure that Nigeria contributes to the United Nations’ Global Compact initiative on sustainable agriculture business principles.

The event which held at the NESG Summit House in Lagos had participants drawn from the academia, production, finance, processing and distribution in attendance to brainstorm on how global decisions affect their practice in the agriculture sector and make contributions towards the finalization of the UN’s Global Compact white paper on sustainable agriculture business principles

The Director General of the NESG, Mr Frank Nweke Junior, said that the contributions of industry players from within Nigeria would form part of the content of the white paper and help sustain the policy initiatives of Government and engage the private sector in ensuring the implementation of policies in the agriculture sector.

The 16 factors identified by the participants include amongst others; workers’ rights, land use and rights, climate change, biodiversity, protecting children, health and nutrition, supply chains and trade, value chain financing, yield and productivity, small-scale farmers and co-operatives, as well as institutions and infrastructure all of which if properly harnessed will bring desired outcomes.

It would be recalled that, for the first time, the recently held 19th Economic Summit entirely focused on agriculture, against the backdrop that it contributes over 40% to Nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and employs majority of Nigerians, but the country still spends huge sums in foreign exchange, importing food annually, hence the need to improve the lot of the sector.

No Agency In Nigeria Can Handle Weather Threats – Environmentalist

Following the National Emergency Management Agency’s (NEMA) prediction of torrential rainfall in Southern Nigeria on Tuesday, 18th June, an environmentalist, Sulaiman Arigbabu, has on Wednesday disclosed the agency’s inability to manage environmental threats in the country.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Arigbabu said that “although NEMA has been trying to be there, it is not enough.”

Commenting on the Federal Government’s efforts to ensure that the effect of climate change in the country has minimal impact, Mr Arigbabu is of the opinion that the government is not doing enough as “there is no single agency that can rise up to the level of threat that we are facing” in Nigeria.

He commended NEMA’s prompt action in warning citizens of the weather forecast but said that it is not enough to issue warning and not educate the populace on the necessary actions to take.

He added that the mode of passing information is not comprehensive as many people would not be aware of warning when it is passed in such short notice.

Climate Change: Lack Of Strategy Bars Nigeria From Foreign Aid

An environmentalist, Sulaiman Arigbabu, while speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily said a National Response Strategy disqualifies Nigeria from receiving funds from external bodies, adding that there is need for a National Climate Change Commission.

Mr Arigbabu said it would be impossible for Nigeria to receive funds from international bodies if there is no structure or action plan put in place to champion the cause appropriately.

Citing Kenya as a country which has gone ahead to institute proper structure, he disclosed that “the world is taking them serious” because they have policy in place.

He said that all efforts to get the government to institute a National Climate Change Commission have failed.

“Nigeria cannot be a recipient of most of these things because we don’t have a strategy” he said.

Mr Arigbabu called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to come up with a National Response Strategy to climate change. He said giving funds will not solve the problem.

“You don’t throw money at problems,” he said.

Rainstorm Destroys Houses in Omu Aran, Oke Ero Communities

Nearly 60 houses have been destroyed in Omu Aran and Egosi Ile communities, Kwara state by a rainstorm which lasted for 45 minutes leading to the massive loss of properties and government structures.

The residents of Omu Aran, Irepodun local government and Egosi Ile in Oke Ero local government of Kwara state have lamented the destruction of their homes and loss of properties which was caused a rainstorm.

The rainstorm which lasted for 45 minutes affected the palace of the immediate past and the private residence of the reigning Olomu of Omu Aran. The oldest clinic, churches, and houses of two widows were also not spared.

The storm also uprooted electric cables, trees and damaged walls.

At Egosi Ile in Oke Ero local government, a 10 minute drive from Omu Aran, the roofs of nearly 20 houses were blown off on the same day.

Most of the houses had their roofs shattered and thrown several meters away from their houses.

The victims said that no lives were lost and have started the reconstruction and renovation of affected buildings; while the aged and the poor have called on the government to come to their aid.

The traditional ruler who was visibly shaken by the unfortunate incident said that great efforts would be needed to resettle most of the victims who are poor.

The state government has however assured that it will address the situation after assessing the extent of the damages.

Rainstorm Wreaks Havoc In Owo

The Residents of the ancient town of Owo, the headquarters of Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State are presently counting their losses as a result of the havoc done by heavy rainstorms in the town on Monday night that left the roofs of over 200 houses blown off and several properties destroyed.

Some of the residents who spoke with Channels Television’s Correspondent narrated that the slight showers, accompanied by strong storms that wreaked the havoc started at about 7:30 in the evening and lasted for about an hour.

Electricity supply to the town has been disrupted as about 25 electric poles were destroyed by the heavy rainstorms.

Buildings affected by the storms include several residential houses, schools, hospitals, restaurants and shops.

Speaking to Newsmen after assessing the extent of damage done by the rainstorms, a member of the Ondo State House of Assembly representing Owo Constituency 1, Ayo Arowele expressed his sympathy to the victims of the storm and promised them that the state government will assist them in re- constructing their houses.

NEMA blames climate change for worst flood in Nigeria

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has attributed climate change to the worst flood disaster witnessed in Nigeria this year.

Aerial view images of flooding around river Niger in Lokoja

The Director General of NEMA, Muhammad Sani-Sidi disclosed this at the end of the 18th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Doha, Qatar.

Speaking at the event, Mr Sani-Sidi said the climatic condition and drastic change to whether pattern contributed to massive flooding witnessed in the most states in Nigeria where lives were lost and sources of livelihood worth billions of Naira were destroyed.

He said: “We are now living witnesses to the reality of climate change and global warming where areas considered as dryland in the Northern part of the country witnessed excessive and torrential rainfall while some communities in the South were also submerged.

“NEMA has received tremendous support from all stakeholders during the recent flooding in many parts of the country; this is the first time we would have good collaboration with stakeholders during emergency response period. However, the law establishing NEMA states that there shall be state and local government emergency management agencies; but unfortunately, not many states have functional and effective institutional framework to manage disasters. “

Mr Sani-Sidi said within the limits of its resources, the agency had responded well to the recent flood disaster, which affected about 25 percent of the country by mobilising its personnel to provide rescues and relief services to victims.

On what should be done to mitigate the impact of flooding in the country, Mr Sani-Sidi said, “We must be environmentally conscious, where we need to build buffer dams, we must build; and people in flood plains should move to higher grounds.

“State governments must be serious about emergency management and local government authorities must also be serious; we need to create awareness and build capacity so that we can reduce our people’s vulnerability.”

On NEMA’s participation at COP 18, the director-general said that, as disaster managers, the agency finds the conference relevant, especially with the country’s recent experience of natural disasters attributed to climate change.

Monster storm leaves U.S. East Coast crippled; 30 dead

Millions of people were left reeling in the aftermath of monster storm Sandy on Tuesday as New York City and a wide swathe of the eastern United States struggled with epic flooding and massive power outages. The death toll climbed to at least 30.

A man wades through a street flooded during Hurricane Sandy in Ocean City, Maryland October 29, 2012. Photo: Reuters

Sandy, which crashed ashore with hurricane-force winds in New Jersey overnight as the biggest storm to hit the country in generations, swamped parts of New York’s subway system and Manhattan’s Wall Street district, closing financial markets for a second day.

As the weakened but still sprawling storm system continued its trek inland, more than 1 million people in a dozen states along its path were still under orders to evacuate. Sandy left behind a trail of damage – homes underwater, trees toppled and power lines downed – up and down the Atlantic coast.

The storm interrupted the presidential campaign a week before Election Day, giving President Barack Obama an opportunity to look presidential as he oversees the government response. He drew praise from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has been a strong supporter of Obama’s opponent.

“I want everyone leaning forward on this,” an aide quoted Obama as telling his disaster-response team in the White House Situation Room. “I don’t want to hear that we didn’t do something because bureaucracy got in the way.”

Houses and businesses on the New Jersey shore sustained extensive damage from the storm’s onslaught. “The devastation is unthinkable,” Christie told reporters after seeing aerial pictures of the area.

In the storm’s wake, Obama issued federal emergency decrees for New York and New Jersey, declaring that “major disasters” existed in both states. One disaster-forecasting company predicted economic losses could ultimately reach $20 billion (12.4 billion pounds), only half insured.

“Make no mistake about it. This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst we have ever experienced,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
All along the East Coast, residents and business owners awoke to scenes of destruction.

“There are boats in the street five blocks from the ocean,” said evacuee Peter Sandomeno, one of the owners of the Broadway Court Motel in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. “That’s the worst storm I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been there for 11 years.”

Sandy, which was especially imposing because of its wide-ranging winds, brought a record storm surge of almost 14 feet (4.2 meters) to downtown Manhattan, well above the previous record of 10 feet (3 meters) during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the National Weather Service said.

Water poured into the subway tunnels that course under the city, the country’s financial capital, and Bloomberg said the subway system would likely be closed for four or five days.

“Hitting at high tide, the strongest surge and the strongest winds all hit at the worst possible time,” said Jeffrey Tongue, a meteorologist for the weather service in Brookhaven, New York.

Hurricane-force winds as high as 90 miles per hour (145 km per hour) were recorded, he said. “Hopefully it’s a once-in-a-lifetime storm,” Tongue said.

As residents and business owners began a massive clean-up effort and faced a long and costly recovery, large parts of the region remained without power, and transportation in the New York metropolitan area was at a standstill.

The U.S. Department of Energy said more than 8 million homes and businesses in several states were without electricity due to the storm, which crashed ashore late on Monday near the gambling resort of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

More than 50 homes burn

The unprecedented flooding hampered efforts to fight a massive fire that destroyed more than 50 homes in Breezy Point, a private beach community on the Rockaway barrier island in the New York City borough of Queens.

New York University’s Tisch hospital was forced to evacuate more than 200 patients, among them babies on respirators in the neonatal intensive care unit, when the backup generator failed. Four of the newborns had to be carried down nine flights of stairs while nurses manually squeezed bags to deliver air to the babies’ lungs, CNN reported.

The death toll continued to rise, with reports of at least 30 people killed by the storm.

“Sadly the storm claimed lives throughout the region, including at least 10 in our city … and we expect that number to go up,” Bloomberg said.
Other storm-related deaths were reported elsewhere in New York state in addition to Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Toronto police also recorded one death – a woman hit by flying debris.

Sandy killed 66 people in the Caribbean last week before pounding U.S. coastal areas.

Federal government offices in Washington, which was spared the full force of the storm, were closed for a second day on Tuesday, and schools were shut up and down the East Coast.

The storm weakened as it ploughed slowly west across southern Pennsylvania, its remnants situated between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, with maximum winds down to 45 mph (72 kph), the National Hurricane Centre said.

As Sandy converged with a cold weather system, blizzard warnings were in effect for West Virginia, western Maryland, eastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky and western North Carolina.

Wind gusts, rain and flooding were likely to extend well into Tuesday, but without the storm’s earlier devastating power, said AccuWeather meteorologist Jim Dickey.

At its peak, the storm’s wind field stretched from North Carolina north to the Canadian border and from West Virginia to a point in the Atlantic Ocean halfway to Bermuda, easily one of the largest ever seen, the hurricane Centre said.

Obama and Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney put campaigning on hold for a second day instead of launching their final push for votes ahead of the November 6 election.

Obama, who has made every effort to show himself staying on top of the storm situation, faces political danger if the federal government fails to respond well in the storm’s aftermath, as was the case with predecessor George W. Bush’s botched handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

But Obama also has a chance to look presidential in a national crisis.

With politics cast aside for the moment, Republican Christie heaped praise on the Democratic incumbent for the government’s initial storm response.

“The federal government response has been great,” Christie, a staunch Romney supporter, told NBC’s “Today” show. “I was on the phone at midnight again last night with the president personally … and the president has been outstanding in this.”

New Jersey towns flooded

Three towns in New Jersey, just west of New York City, were inundated with up to 5 feet (1.5 metres) of water after the nearby Hackensack River flooded, officials said. Rescuers were using boats to aid the marooned residents of Moonachie, Little Ferry and Carlstadt.

In New York, a crane partially collapsed and dangled precariously from a 90-story luxury apartment building under construction in Midtown Manhattan.

Much of the city was deserted, as its subways, buses, commuter trains, bridges and airports were closed. Power outages darkened most of downtown Manhattan as well as Westchester County, affecting more than 650,000 customers, power company Consolidated Edison said.

Neighbourhoods along the East and Hudson rivers in Manhattan were underwater, as were low-lying streets in Battery Park near Ground Zero, where the World Trade Centre once stood.

U.S. stock markets were closed on Tuesday but would likely reopen on Wednesday. They closed on Monday for the first time since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Most areas in downtown Manhattan were without power on Monday morning. As the sun rose, most of the water in Manhattan’s low-lying Battery Park City appeared to have receded.

A security guard at 7 World Trade Centre, Gregory Baldwin, was catching some rest in his car after labouring overnight against floodwater that engulfed a nearby office building.

“The water went inside up to here,” he said, pointing to his chest. “The water came shooting down from Battery Park with the gusting wind.”

In Lower Manhattan, fire-fighters used inflatable orange boats to rescue utility workers stranded for three hours by rising floodwaters inside a power substation.

One of the Con Ed workers pulled from the floodwater, Angelo Amato, said he was part of a crew who had offered to work through the storm.

“This is what happens when you volunteer,” he said.


Uduaghan recruits Aki and Paw Paw to motivate flood victims

The Delta State governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan on Monday explained the rationale behind inviting Nollywood actors, Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme, popularly known as Aki and Paw Paw, to visit flood victims in the state as motivational speakers.

Aki and Paw Paw were reportedly present during the inauguration of the 12-man committee on the management of Federal Government fund released to the state over the flood disaster and the Post-Flooding Rehabilitation of Victims, headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice Francis Tabai, at Government House, Asaba, by Mr Uduaghan.

The governor said he invited the duo after he visited the Institute of Continuing Education, where some flood victims’ were camped on a certain day and discovered that the displaced person, who were watching a Nollywood movie, were so engrossed that they barely gave him attention when he walked in.

“As I walked in, half of the population were watching television; you know we provided a giant television for them,” he said.

“I tried to attract their attention. Some looked at me and greeted me, but they turned to continue watching the television. When I looked at the television, I saw it was Aki, Paw Paw and Ibu that they were watching.

“You see, because they were watching Aki, Paw Paw and Ibu, they forgot their pains. For them, these Nollywood actors were helping them to ease their pains. That was why I invited them to go to the different camps as motivational speakers because the victims require a lot of motivation, while they are preparing to go back home,” the governor added.

He said the victims needed psychological support, adding that he was optimistic that Aki and Paw Paw would provide it for them.

“That is why they are here as motivational speakers. I believe that the few minutes they will spend will ease the pains of our IDPs. Those who have ability to ease those in pains, please help, it is not about food alone for the victims – that will not ease their pains.”

Flood update: Environmentalist calls for post impact assessment

An Environmentalist, Idowu Salawu on Thursday said the states that received monies from the Federal Government to ameliorate their flooding problems should spend part of that fund in conducting post impact assessment studies.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Salawu cautioned the State governors that the monies should not be spent on frivolous jamborees but must be targeted at helping those displaced by the floods.

“The money is not for jamboree,” he said.

“If I am one of the lawmaker or policy maker saddled with the responsibility of managing this fund, I will take 10 percent of that money to carry out post impact assessment study of the flood impacted areas,” he added.

State and Local government must establish emergency agency-NEMA boss

In the wake of the disappointing rescue efforts for people affected by the flood disaster across the country, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has called for state and local government to establish Emergency Agency at their levels, because they are closer to the people.

This will enhance a prompt rescue mission to save lives whenever disasters strike. This was made known by NEMA’s Director of Search and Rescue, Mr Charles Otegbade on our breakfast show, Sunrise.

Responding to why the delay in rescuing people affected by the flood in Kogi which displaced almost a million people and claimed a number of lives, Mr Otegbade, stated that the agency got hold of the flood disaster in Ebaji (Kogi state) by 4PM and that the rescue team arrived at the disaster spot by 10AM the following day.

“We (NEMA) are a national body and the state and local government emergency agencies should have swung into action before our arrival because they are the closest to the people” he stated.

He also noted that the staff of national emergency agency had to be deployed from Benue state, which was already ravaged by the flood before the call came from to Kogi state.

“So the state and local governments must create these local agencies to quickly assist people whenever a disaster happens.”

He called for increased funding for the agency as well as other agencies that could assist in rescue operations.

“Idly, the Federal Fire Service should be the agency that will lead the rescue mission for flood disasters but because the Fire Service is in a dire state, they cannot do anything, all of these agencies need to developed by funding and manpower to enhance the rescue operations when needed.”

He added that “NEMA is essentially a strategic coordinating agency” as he quickly quipped that “but that does not precludes us (NEMA) from the operational tactics at the operational level.”

“NEMA should have just coordinated the efforts of every other agency if they were adequately equipped with equipment and manpower.”

Mr Otegbade stated that over 6,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are currently accommodated in IDP camps in Kogi state.

The rescue expert claimed the excessive rainfall and release of water from the dam in Cameroun were responsible for the flood.

“What we expressing is the downward movement of the accumulated water from River Niger and River Benue to Delta state” as he spoke about the flood disaster that has also affected the Niger-Delta.