On 4-5 October 2023, the ESG Africa Conference, 2023 took place at the Sandton Convention Centre and we were proud to support this conference for the second year consecutively, as a gold sponsor. The growth in the number of attendees from year one to two, demonstrates that ESG has become a key consideration for many organisations. There is growing impetus for African-based ESG initiatives and solutions.
Paula Ann-Novotny and Thandekile Mbatha, who both attended the conference, reflect on some of the key takeaways from the sessions at the conference:
- ESG disclosure and reporting is evolving beyond a compliance practice to focusing on impact performance.
- While strides have been made towards establishing common language on ESG globally, there is a need, however, to contextualise regional and domestic challenges in the implementation of ESG practices.
- Leadership and courage are needed from the business community to drive sustainability within businesses. Consideration of best practice and good governance are key to the achievement of ESG goals.
- Climate finance is currently insufficient in Africa. Africa needs to capitalise its potential to be the world's CO2 sink.
- Africa has development capital potential in respect of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which could enable Africa to grow faster as an economy and as the world's single biggest market.
- Africa's value chains should be strengthened and improved by building capacity and capability. The lack of coherent procurement and localisation policies are challenges for integrated African value chains. Organisations must be more intentional about how to develop procurement processes that reflect ESG goals.
- Youth and entrepreneurship are key building blocks to ESG integration and are key to address some of the social challenges in Africa. More partnerships between big businesses and Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises could capacitate young entrepreneurs, provide the financial support required, and create market opportunities.
- Culture is an important element of ESG strategies to combat climate change.
On Day 2 of the Conference, delegates had an opportunity to choose their sector breakout sessions, which included IT, mining, financial services, infrastructure and agriculture. Nomsa Mbere and Emily Gammon facilitated the mining and ESG sector breakout session which proved to be a popular choice amongst conference delegates. Nomsa and Emily focused the discussion on transformative leadership in the mining sector. There is a need for comprehensive, proactive and authentic commitment to ESG principles at board level, so as to mitigate ESG risks and address the increased scrutiny faced by the sector around environmental impact and social responsibility.
Dalit Anstey was on the judging panel of the SAB Beyond Awards, which in its inaugural year, recognised four categories of awards, including the Sustainable Development Goals Champion Award, Sustainability Report of the Year Award, Sustainability Project of the Year Award, and African Trailblazer Award. You can find out more information here about the recipients of the four awards and the other judges here.