In 2015, approximately 193 member countries of the United Nations came together to endorse 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the target of accomplishing them by 2030.

These goals were crafted with the ambition to change the world by implementing actions to eradicate poverty and inequality, protect the planet, and ensure that everybody experiences good health, justice, and prosperity.

In addition to nationwide efforts, several sectors in Ghana, including the banking industry, have put in place measures to support the SDG agenda.

Recognising the pivotal role that banks play in the economic development of the country, it is imperative that banks actively integrate sustainability principles into their operations.

By doing so, they play their part in advancing the SDGs, thereby promoting sustainability for both themselves and the society as a whole.

Bank of Ghana has taken steps towards ensuring that the banking sector plays its role in the implementation of the SDGs through the promulgation of the Ghana Sustainable Banking Principles.

These principles are expected to guide banks to identify and manage environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks, identify ESG opportunities in their business activities and promote positive ESG practices in their internal operations through corporate governance, ethical standards and reporting.

Banks in Ghana can be sustainability-focused by adopting strategic approaches towards all activities in their value chain. They can be directly and indirectly involved in ESG activities through sustainable banking practices to achieve what is considered as the triple bottom line – profit, people and planet.

This can be achieved if they are proactive in the identification, assessment, management and monitoring of risks and opportunities related to ESG to be able to mitigate the negative impact of the risks and also take advantage of the potential positive impact of the opportunities on their operations and the environment.

Several banks in Ghana have taken steps to advance sustainability through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. For example, as part of its CSR efforts, Bank of Africa Ghana Ltd has established an SDG garden in the heart of Accra to raise awareness about sustainability.

Additionally, the bank has organized tree planting events to support environmental conservation and has provided assistance for autistic patients and institutions, provided sanitary towels to Kayayees among other social initiatives.

In relation to internal policies, the Bank has actively encouraged its staff to reduce the use of disposable plastics by promoting the use of reusable cups and other items for both official and personal purposes within its offices.

To promote gender parity, the Bank promotes diversity and inclusion in its hiring and people management. This was recognized when the Bank was honored as the “Most Diverse and Inclusive Financial Institution of the Year” at the Women in Finance and Investment Summit & Awards held in December 2021 by the Chartered Global Investment Analyst (CGIA) Institute.  

Banks can also support the SDG agenda through the provision of ESG products and solutions to their clients, the incorporation of ESG conditions in lending activities such as linking accessibility and pricing to ESG conditions, and active screening of clients for ESG orientation in their onboarding process and account monitoring. BOA Ghana in line with initiatives by the BOA Group ensures that its stakeholders, particularly, customers, also play their part.

Currently, the Bank does this by undertaking environmental and social (E&S) risk assessments as part of its credit processes. The criteria for corporate institutions and small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) to access credit facilities include the completion of an E&S Classification Questionnaire which provides information on the environmental and social impact of their business operations.

This information is reviewed, and credit facilities can be withheld if there is an indication that the environmental and social impact of their operations is negative. Although these are great strides, banks in Ghana can still incorporate more sustainability ethics in their operations to be able to make significant impact.

Corporate organizations, businesses and individual citizens have roles to play in helping Ghana achieve the implementation of all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Reducing the production and usage of plastic products, stopping the indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste, stopping galamsey, using energy -efficient appliances and planting trees etc. are a few of the various ways in which we can support this agenda.

For banks, adopting sustainability principles in both their internal operations and client offerings can yield numerous benefits.

According to Almashhadani & Almashhadani, 2023, sustainability practices and their disclosure promote favorable responses from stakeholders such as investors, consumers, regulators, consumer protection authorities and the general public and this can make organizations more competitive and attractive.

Self-disclosure and regulatory reporting on the sustainability practices can also go a long way to improve stakeholder confidence in banks in developing markets.


About the author; Marian Yeboah is the Head of Credit Administration. Bank of Africa

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.