July 22, 2024

First Bank of Nigeria Limited, last week, kick-started its 50,000 tree planting campaign as part of activities to mark its yearly Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Week.

In partnership with Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF), employees and partners of the bank led by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank Group, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, started the activity targeted at 50,000 trees aimed at galvanising its operations across the globe to champion sustainable development.

The tree planting programme, according to Adeduntan, is one of the bank’s flagship initiatives to reduce its carbon footprints and promote environmental sustainability as part of its overarching sustainability and environment, social, and governance (ESG) strategy.

The initiative is in collaboration with NCF and in alignment with the Nigeria Conservation Foundation’s Forest Programme – Green Recovery Nigeria (GRN) – which is designed to help increase Nigeria’s forest cover from its current four to seven percent to 25 per cent by 2047.

Nigeria’s forest cover, according to the Director General of NCF, Dr Joseph Onoja, was about 40 per cent before the country’s Independence but fell to below 10 per cent in recent years. He said over 235 million trees would need to be planted at the cost of over N200 billion to achieve the 25 per cent target.

Adeduntan said FirstBank would not be on the fringe in the efforts to reclaim part of the lost forest cover but would be an “integral” part of the move and would mobilise its operational bases across other African countries for the climate action.

Adeduntan, who unveiled the climate action at the Lekki Conservative Centre, Lagos at the weekend, called on other corporate organisations to toe the line, saying FirstBank would not want its input in building a sustainable development to be a drop in the ocean but desired to be an integral part of the process.

“What we are doing is a ceremony. But it speaks to our commitment to galvanise our operations across the globe in championing sustainable development,” he said, calling on other economic players to join the campaign.

Except deliberate efforts are taken by man to protect the environment, he said, nature could get rid of the man in the process of conserving itself. For the bank, he promised, it would revisit the 50,000 tree target after it is achieved as it desired an enduring partnership to preserve nature.

“It is quite significant because this is a very integral part of our own corporate responsibility and sustainability pillars. We are fully aligned with what we want to achieve as a country in terms of preserving nature and promoting the right attitude towards nature, if you don’t preserve nature, nature itself will consume you.

“We are using this opportunity to appeal to other like-minded corporate organisations that there is a need to partner with the government and organisations such as the NCF to promote this act of preserving nature… When you look at the twin problems of certification and erosion, these are major impacts of nature that are causing degradation in our environment. And the solution to them is actually in planting trees.

“So, at FirstBank, we’ve made up our mind that we will as usual because we were woven into the fabric of the society, we will be part of the finding solution, practice solution to this problem and that is why we have adopted tree planting as a very important pillar of our corporate social responsibility and sustainability,” he said.

In the past seven years, FirstBank colleagues and customers come together to participate in a global annual volunteer tagged Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness (SPARK) to give back to and foster positive change in the communities where they live and work.

The initiative has impacted over 200,000 lives across eight countries with over 103 charities supported achieving a total of 121,015 volunteer hours.

The activities of the 2023 edition, which ran from 23 to 28 October, include tree planting, women empowerment, SPARK schools engagement, orphanage homes, the less privileged engagement, and kind comments day.

Also, in line with FirstBank’s commitment to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG) of women empowerment, the bank supported cancer foundations’ actions on women and skills acquisition for women on 25 and 26 October 2023.

As a member of UN Women, FirstBank employed the relevant women empowerment tools to empower women internally and externally as well as partnered with the International Women’s Society to drive skills acquisition.

The Kind Comments Day is an advocacy campaign encouraging staff, customers, and other stakeholders to say kind things about one another. It focuses on inspiring and encouraging people to be deliberate about the use of kind words about others.

On 27 October 2023, staff of the bank will visit schools for the SPARK School Engagement. This activity is aimed at engaging school students through the Bank’s employees on financial literacy and inculcating and equipping young people with entrepreneurship skill sets and mindset to inspire self-belief despite the increasingly daunting economic challenges while preparing them for the future of work.

Rounding off the 2023 CRS Week will be visits to Orphanage Homes, the less privileged engagement, which was held on 28 October 2023. Orphanages, including the Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs), will be visited in six geo-political zones in Nigeria as well as other SSA markets.

“At FirstBank, we are committed to promoting the culture of kindness as it continues to engender positive relationships with our host communities. By making kindness a way of life, we build stronger communities, foster empathy, and create a positive ripple effect that extends far beyond this week, said the Group Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications for FirstBank, Ms. Folake Ani-Mumuney.

“It’s great to see our volunteers demonstrate their continued commitment to positively impact our communities. In the spirit of kindness, I encourage everyone to join us in celebrating the FirstBank corporate responsibility and sustainability (CRS) week as we make kindness a part of our daily lives, interacting with one another in impactful and memorable ways,” she added.


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