Nairobi, 2 December 2021 — Leaders from African business, civil society, governments and the United Nations joined a Uniting Business Africa forum on Thursday to promote responsible business practices and sustainability, challenging the continent’s private sector to find opportunities in addressing the twin crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency.
The United Nations Global Compact and its Local Networks, which sponsored the one-day virtual event, introduced an Africa Strategy for 2021-2023, a call to action for Africa’s businesses to reach the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 Agenda and Africa’s Agenda 2063.
“As economies on the continent recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, there are critical opportunities in energy transitions, transforming food systems and leveraging the wealth of extractive industries toward a green sustainable and inclusive economy leaving no one behind,” said Amina J. Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, at the event. “These opportunities are not only good for business, they’re also the investments that we need to get back on track towards the Decade of Action with the 2030 agenda and agenda 2063 at its core.”
Also addressing the forum was Botswana President H.E. Mokgweetsi Masisi, who underscored his country’s commitment to sustainability and resilience efforts.
“Let me reaffirm Botswana’s abiding faith in the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact and unflinching support for the Africa Strategy,” he said.
Attendees addressed such issues as achieving net-zero carbon emissions and halting the global temperature rise to 1.5° C, with a look ahead to COP 27, scheduled to be held in two years in Egypt. African marketing leaders also addressed leadership for the SDGs.
Collaboration is critical, drawing together small and medium-sized enterprises as well as large multinational corporations with trade associations, financial institutions, governments, civil society and UN partners, said Sanda Ojiambo, CEO & Executive Director of the UN Global Compact.
“By working together with business, government, regional authorities and the African Union, we can and must make the 2030 agenda and agenda 2063 a reality for Africa,” said Ojiambo.
Business leaders contributed insight from their own experiences, citing sharing their experiences and strategies for sustainable, resilient practices, including Josephine Pieters, Senior Manager, Social Impact at the De Beers Group, the diamond mining giant, Robert Okine, chief executive at Bewsys, an IT consulting firm based in Ghana, and Jane Karuku, chief executive of Nairobi-based East African Breweries.
The objectives of the UN Global Compact's Africa Strategy include a focus on the issues and programs most relevant to African companies. It aims for participation of leading pan-African and national companies, the inclusion of all companies in all geographies and in all sectors and using the leverage of associations, supply chains and sources of capital.
The Africa Strategy is establishing a regional hub in Abuja, Nigeria, and will expand the number of Global Compact Local Networks across the continent. With 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of $3.5 trillion, Africa is the world’s biggest growth market.
Watch event recordings here.