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Zenith Bank emerges first in Africa to adopt GRI Standards in Sustainability reporting

Zenith Bank Plc has been named the first company in Nigeria as well as the first financial institution in Africa to have adopted the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards in Sustainability reporting.

Zenith Bank
The Zenith Bank Plc head offices building on Victoria Island in Lagos

The banking institution achieved the feat courtesy of its 2016 Sustainability Report, with the theme: “Creating Wealth Sustainably”, making it the first GRI Standards report in Nigeria, and the first in Africa’s financial services industry.

The GRI Standards was unveiled in October 2016 by the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB). It is designed to replace the GRI G4, which was the reporting standard that Zenith Bank had adopted in its 2015 report, themed: “Nurturing People, Planet, Profit”.

But, in its 2016 Sustainability Report released on August 2017, Zenith reportedly adopted the Standards.

As shown in the reporting database of the GRI, about 200 major companies have so far adopted GRI Standards worldwide, including major brands such as Accenture Spain, Bank Audi, Citi Brazil, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, European Investment Bank, Ford Motor Company, ING Group, Johnson & Johnson, Intel Corporation, Prudential Financial Inc, Royal Bank of Canada, Singapore Airlines Limited, The Coca-Cola Company, Target and UPS, among others.

According to a source, Sustainability Reporting provides a good tool for measuring progress and ensuring transparency, accountability and good corporate governance. “This is why it has become a key performance indicator, especially among leading brands,” the source added.

In 2008, Zenith Bank chairman, Jim Ovia and Head of Unit, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Paul Clements-Hunt, signed the “UNEP Statement by Financial Institutions on the Environment and Sustainable Development”.

Zenit Bank Plc has likewise declared its support for the 10 principles of the Global Compact on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

“We are committed to making the Global Compact and its principles part of the strategy, culture and day-to-day operations of our company, and to engaging in collaborative projects which advance the broader development goals of the United Nations, particularly the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Zenith Bank Plc will make a clear statement of this commitment to our stakeholders and the general public,” the bank’s management declared in a statement to the United Nations.

It adds: “We recognise that a key requirement for participation in the Global Compact is the annual submission of a Communication on Progress (COP) that describes our company’s efforts to implement the 10 principles. We support public accountability and transparency, and therefore commit to report on progress annually according to the Glopbal Compact COP policy.”

The 142-page 2016 Sustainability Report explored, in its “Environment” section, issues like “green business strategy”, “energy”, “emissions”, “greenhouse gas emission audit report”, “effluents and wastes” and “environmental compliance”.

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