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FROM THE CEO’S DESK

Decade of Action to deliver the Global Goals

The devastation wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting societies and economies worldwide, has alarmed those working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by the target date of 2030. With just 10 years to go, an ambitious global effort is underway to deliver the 2030 promise — by mobilizing more governments, civil society, businesses and calling on all people to make the Global Goals their own.

Clearly the COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the 17 SDGs. The health crisis that has run rampant over the globe placed devastating restrictions on the ability of communities to earn livings and provide for themselves and their families. Economic disaster continues as countries experience greater or lesser medium-term impacts, with cases of COVID-19 continuing.

There could have been no clearer demonstration of the importance of meeting the Goals by 2030. This is something that is all of our collective responsibility.

The Decade of Action calls for accelerating sustainable solutions to all the world’s biggest challenges. Business is generally confident that it is playing its part in this. The UN Global Compact now has more than 10,000 businesses in 160 countries.

At the 17 July 2020 high-level conversation “Multilateralism after COVID 19: what kind of UN do we need at the 75th anniversary?”, CEO & Executive Director Sanda Ojiambo said business leaders can use their power to bring about positive change.

“Business can play a major role in reinvigorating multilateralism by demonstrating ethical leadership and good governance, addressing systemic inequalities and injustices in supply chains and partnering with government and civil society to strengthen institutions, laws and systems at the national and international level.”

In Africa, we know that while patchy economic development could have slowed the spread of the virus in certain areas, in other communities the poor have felt the devastating impact of the virus’s spread in high-density areas with inadequate food security, shelter and healthcare. These regions need our support.

A coordinated regional approach will be crucial to enable countries within regions to collectively find additional support to their national efforts and actions. The Ten Principles provide a common framework for operating responsibly and ethically and are recognized as such by 74% of companies surveyed, who state that upholding these Ten Principles helps them to take action on the SDGs.

In a November 2020 report, “COVID-19 and the great reset”, global consulting firm McKinsey says with signs of progress in COVID-19-vaccine trials, companies are thinking ahead. McKinsey argues that for companies in the post-crisis era, a critical challenge will be articulating a “clear, meaningful, and authentic purpose”. Companies, says McKinsey, should “know their reasons for being, communicate them easily to customers, and enjoy the results”.

Today, progress is being made in many places, but, overall, action to meet the Goals is not yet advancing at the speed or scale required. 2020 needs to usher in a decade of ambitious action to deliver the Goals by 2030.

Where does Shared Value play a role in the Decade of Action to achieve the SDGs?

First, in emphasising the need for clarity of corporate purpose. Shared Value offers companies a framework to identify the linkage between their purposes and the SDGs to which the purpose contributes. This is a complex process and one in which we are happy to assist. Please contact us.

Second, the focus on collaboration. In Shared Value terms, success at scale requires the building of an eco-system comprising private, public and civil society sectors. Companies are not able to achieve this alone. Success requires collaboration, which is why we at the SVAI focus so extensively on offering our members opportunities for networking and engagement.

Third, the building of the value chain. The UN Global Compact found that further work is needed across the supply chain to deliver deeper change in sustainable business. The SVAI is often asked by members to unpack how Shared Value can be applied to building the corporate value chain. Doing so is a clear way of putting Shared Value into practise.

Lastly, and possibly most important, the growth of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. The role of entrepreneurship as key to Africa’s economic recovery and the importance of Shared Value as an enabler of profit with purpose. This was the main message delivered by speakers and panellists at the SVAI webinar on 11 November, co-hosted with GrassRoots Hub. Watch our video on that event.

Networking and learning opportunities this month

Join our webinar In Conversation with Mark Kramer: Connecting Shared Value to Shareholder Value on December 3rd webinar at the Africa webinar about work to integrate impact measurements. Learn about the hybrid measurement concept and what it will mean for your business. The measurement approach combines social and environmental impact with standard measures of financial performance. Book your seat here.

The SVAI board member Christelle Kwizera up for Global Citizen Prize 2020

The SVAI is proud that our board member Christelle Kwizera, a Rwandan social entrepreneur and founder of Water Access Rwanda, is up for the Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award this year. The award honours young activists who have dedicated themselves to working towards achieving the UN’s Global Goals. Christelle’s work towards ending water scarcity in Africa contributes to Goal 6, to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all; and Goal 11 for building sustainable communities. Global Citizen Prize recognizes the remarkable people among us who dedicate their lives to defeating extreme poverty. Vote for Christelle, a Silver Medal winner for the prize, by casting your vote here.

The South Africa Tomorrow Investor Conference goes virtual – when will we have Continent-wide Investor Conferences? 

On 16 – 20 November 2020, the JSE and co-sponsors hosted the annual South Africa Tomorrow Investor conference. The conference showcases South African institutions and listed companies to the US investor community.

This is one of several events by African nations held to attract investment. We at the SVAI look forward to more such events being held by the continent, collaboratively, perhaps using the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement as a platform, and arranged by African private and public sectors.