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Blog Post

Sustainability as a catalyst for development

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The drive to make sustainability an inherent part of the logic of the markets on the African continent is starting to gain momentum, taking shape despite the barriers that remain.

The Oxford Business Group(OBG) recently explored the manner in which African business leaders see their organisations’ position and commitment relative to sustainability in both attitude and practice.

The findings shed light on the ways in which sustainable and business practices are being adopted at a sectoral level, identifying key drivers and early adopters, while pointing towards players who have strong interests in sustainable practices without necessarily benefiting from access to the solutions available.

Three categories of actors were highlighted in the OBG analysis that play a leading role in sustainable development on the Continent. Large Multinationals have been able to leverage the already well developed sustainability practices and reporting culture of their home operations as a means to spearhead compliance in their local, African, spheres.

Financial institutions have a similar role to MNCs and show promise in being key facilitators of the promotion of sustainable practices amongst the clients and stakeholders with whom they share an operational environment. The third category that was highlighted in the study were Public Sector companies who have an inherent stake in the positive impact of their operations linked to the normative and social interests of the State. Here however, the conversion of commitment into practice, particularly in line with international standards, face challenges given the politicization of the process of translating sustainable concepts into public goods.

The instrumentality and potential contribution of these three sectors represents a perfect opportunity for us to further the sustainability agenda on our home turf.

We have all the ingredients to success, the key lies in our ability to bring them together to produce the necessary alchemic reaction.

The Big Four Agenda has within its fundamental logic the need for a sustainable approach. Let us take one of its pillars, Food Security, as an example.

If we are able to provide the platform needed to bring government, financial services, large MNCs and local companies together with a specific focus on the agricultural sector, interests and capacities are given a chance to align and complement each other.

Such an approach is currently being piloted in Malawi with funding from DfID and the participation of Unilever, Sainsbury’s, Barclays and Standard Chartered.

Africa may not lead when it comes to the development of sustainability practices and standards on the global stage, however, we are at the forefront of translating those elements into workable and scalable measures on the ground.

Closer to the Kenyan example, we will go a long way in our move towards sustainability by providing the opportunity for the Government, Financial Institutions, Multinationals and Indigenous Industry to create innovative and scalable solutions around the Big Four Agenda, Sustainable Development Goals and nurturing the local market’s ability to be the ultimate stage of positive change going ahead.


About the Author:

Pierre-Emmanuel Maubert is a Director at Africa Practice and has more than 20 years of experience in Competitive Identity, Public Diplomacy, Government Communication, Investment and Trade Promotion, Public Management and Stakeholder Engagement.

He has advised a dozen Governments on their policies ranging from Public Diplomacy to country branding, agriculture to audiovisual and cultural policies, attraction of investments to Presidential Communication. Pierre-Emmanuel has led Africa Practice work with bilateral and multilateral donors, guiding the communication and overall stakeholder engagement strategy around policy reforms.

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