A story is told of a company that went and re-forested a section of the Mau Forest as part of corporate responsibility. However, a few months after they had nurtured the trees, a private developer came and cleared all the trees that were now established and on their way to maturity. The company was devastated. Such scenarios are rather common in our country and form part of the reason why everybody needs to be included in this agenda towards sustainable development.
On 17th May 2017, a breakfast meeting on ‘The state of corporate sustainability and partnerships for Global Goals 2030’ was held in Nairobi with a major focus on private sector. Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC), Safaricom, KPMG and Partnerships for Global Goals were at hand to share their experiences.
During the meeting, it emerged that for the private sector to be committed to the sustainability agenda, they need to see the value. Safaricom and World Food Program through the Chakula Chap Chap initiative have managed to eliminate the logistical nightmare of food distribution to refugees by using Mpesa to transfer funds equivalent to the amount of food that the refugees should receive each month. This has also restored dignity to people who previously woke up each morning with a bowl in hand to collect their food rations. With the funds that refugees receive, some have started small businesses, created employment and also made it easier for other refugees to conveniently access food. This initiative has also led to a huge reduction on the operational costs associated with food distribution.
KPMG urged the private sector to look beyond brand and reputational risk as the only drivers for sustainability and consider other risks such as climate, commercial, regulatory, legal and social, and how these are likely to affect their businesses in the future. For instance, is a company likely to face industrial action because of some human resource challenges that are not being addressed?
The Partnering for the Green Global Goals 2030, formerly Green Growth Forum also shared their new vision to accelerate the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through promoting green and just growth, and harnessing the strengths of the public and private sectors by facilitating them towards action.
During the event the KCIC Chief Executive Officer, Edward Mungai shared the findings of a study on the ‘State of sustainability in Kenya.’ Some of the highlights were that only 45% of Kenyans know about the SDGs and 57% of them prefer products or services from companies that embrace sustainability over those that do not. Sixty-six percent of Kenyans also noted that companies have a role to play in addressing climate change and 82% of chief executives admitted that climate change is affecting their businesses.
Environmental changes show that the earth’s carrying capacity is severely constrained and that companies that want to survive the future must take action now, by investing in people and the planet so that they can survive longer.
By Esther Kahinga