The inaugural ESG Africa conference will take place from 31 August-1 September 2022, at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria. The theme for the two day event is ‘A Sustainable Future Through African Leadership’, representing the significant role leaders can and should play in embedding ESG within their organisational culture, value system and overall business strategies. The conference is organised by ESG Africa events, a company formed by an experienced and multi-disciplined team.
“According to Forbes magazine, ESG investments are expected to reach over $3 trillion in 2022. Investors and fund managers are leading this charge and are increasingly requiring borrowers companies to comply with certain ESG metrics” Says Joshua Low, co-founder, and director of ESG Africa Events. “One of the biggest challenges is that a number of these metrics, and the ways in which these are measured is Eurocentric or Amerciancentric and don’t take into consideration the unique operating environment and challenges we face in Africa” says Low.
“We need to move beyond compliance when it comes to ESG. Too many organisations approach ESG as a ‘nice to have’ or a ‘tick box exercise’. Nowadays, it is becoming a must for companies looking to secure investment, attract and keep talent, remain competitive and, in general, become more sustainable” says Wendy Poulton, co-founder of the conference, chairperson of the South African Energy Association (SANEA) and owner of Strategic Mindsets. “An additional challenge organisations face is that there are varying levels of understanding as to what ESG is, why it is important and how to go about driving it within their organisational structure and culture. Based on this, we are also planning a number of masterclasses in the build up to the conference on topics like ‘ESG 101’, ‘Legal aspects of ESG’ and examining the ‘Social’ element in ESG” adds Poulton.
“The conference aims to tackle some of the challenges organisations face by looking at the role of leadership and culture change, which is critical to ensure that ESG supports transformative and systemic transformation in companies and on the continent”, says Dr. Marie Parramon Gurney (co-founder of the conference and CEO of Skultcha). It will be an opportunity to develop an African position and agenda on ESG, to ensure that it is both impactful and relevant for organisations who operate across the continent. Some of the themes which will be covered include measurement and reporting, financing and investment, legal trends and challenges linked to ESG, and governance, leadership and culture.
Justine Sweet, co-founder and specialist consulting attorney, says that particularly given the broad scope of ESG related matters, the potential for litigation on the basis of misleading or incorrect ESG statements is increasing fast. Companies need to ensure they do as they say: there is no place for ESG-washing!