Sanusi’s Prescription for Growth

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi warns on the dangers of promoting economic growth at the expense of social equality and environmental sustainability

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Dec. 2, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

SANUSI Lamido Sanusi, governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, has charged advocates of sustainable development to invest more in people and the planet in order to accelerate growth and achieve the desired collective development.  He gave the charge recently in Beijing, China, while delivering a keynote address to the United Nations Environmental Programme Finance Initiative, UNEPFI, 2013 Global Roundtable, GRT, with the theme: “Financing the Future We Want: China, Emerging Markets and the World Economy.”

He stressed that it was no longer excusable to continue to promote economic growth at the exclusion of social equality and environmental sustainability. Sanusi urged stakeholders to use the UNEPFI forum to fast track towards a future that considers people and planet by financing the future we want in live with our renewed commitment to Rio +20. The CBN governor informed stakeholders that the Nigeria’s economic development recently witnessed a remarkable transformation.

“Currently, Nigeria is the second largest African economy, after South Africa with a GDP of $292 billion (IMF 2013) making it one of the fastest growing economies. According to Forbes, Nigeria’s economy is more diversified than Russia and closely resembles Brazil’s. In the pursuit of a higher growth trajectory, Nigeria is using up its natural capital at a rate faster than it can be replenished; the financial sector developed and adopted the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles to allow for socially and environmentally inclusive growth,” he said.

Sanusi explained that the implication of Nigeria, being one of the fastest growing economies is that conversion of natural capital into human built capital, goods and services, is putting stress on our natural resources and limiting the ability of our environment to assimilate the wastes produced.

In an apparent reference to the assertion made by Milton Friedman, the preeminent American economist, statistician and the 1976 Nobel Prize winner in Economics, he said that the Nigerian financial sector believes “the business of business is a lot more than business.” Sanusi disclosed that the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles, NSBP, which is a set of nine overarching principles, was developed for Nigerian Banks by Nigerians to enable the translation of the triple P, namely profit, planet and people, concept of sustainable development into reality. In addition, he said it would enable banks make sustainable choices in their business operations and activities.

He further said that accompanying the principles were three credit guidelines on oil and gas, power and agriculture. He added that this had a three-pronged implication for the CBN bordering on internalisation of the principles to minimise our carbon footprint through low carbon emission, resource efficiency and promotion of social inclusion, monitoring of the implementation by the industry through oversight functions and providing leadership by example.

In line with its vision of becoming the model Central Bank and achieving sustainable economic development by the year 2015, Sanusi disclosed that the CBN had developed and adopted a statement of commitment to sustainability and rolled out the initiatives to walk the sustainability talk.

Specifically, he said the bank, among other things, was expanding the use of renewable energy sources in order to reduce its fossil fuel-based energy generation, sensitising staff to switch off all unnecessary lights and equipment during unoccupied hours and when not in use, increasing laptop; desktop usage since laptop uses up to 90 percent less energy than a standard desktop computer, using network printers and reducing paper use through various means.

Sanusi also disclosed that the Bank, which currently has women forming 23 percent of its work force, was also engendering the human resource recruitment policy to achieve 35 percent affirmative action. He revealed that seven out of the 27 directors in the bank are females and are heading departments traditionally reserved for men. In addition, he said more than 400 employees have received gender training. Furthermore, he said the CBN and the deposit money banks had that 30 percent of board positions and 40 percent of management positions should be held by women by the year 2014.

He listed other initiatives carried out by the bank under his leadership to include the launch of a N220 billion fund for Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprise Development Fund, 60 percent of which is earmarked for women owned or headed enterprises and the development of a financial inclusion strategy to reduce the percentage of Nigerians that are financially excluded from 46.3 to 20 by the year 2020 in line with the CBN’s commitment to the Maya Declaration.

Rounding off his address, Sanusi said “Nigeria is learning from the mistakes of the developed countries, and has decided not to continue with the “grow now and clean later strategy”. The GRT provides an opportunity for global financial leaders to share experiences, learn lessons and proffer solutions to the challenges of sustainability, for a better future.

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