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Sustainability attracts clients and top talent

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Sustainable practice in the agriculture, food production and food retail sectors attract more customers and top talent. Image credit: Francesco Gallarotti from Unsplash

Sustainability attracts clients and top talent 

Agriculture, food production and food retail companies that contribute to sustainability in South Africa can attract more customers and top talent, says Dr Achieng Ojwang, executive director of the United Nations Global Compact Network South Africa (GCNSA).

The GCNSA is a corporate sustainability platform tasked with compiling South Africa’s second voluntary national review (VNR) on its progress towards meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The VNR report on South Africa’s work towards attaining the 17 goals, aimed at ensuring that by 2030 the world enjoys peace and prosperity for people and the planet, will be handed by the South African Presidency to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in March 2024.

“Taking part in the VNR is an opportunity to take stock of your company’s sustainability strategy, see where it is on its journey to sustainability and find out what more needs to be done. Being able to show what you have done will also attract more business and top talent,” Ojwang says.

The GCNSA’s research shows that businesses that align their strategies to sustainable outcomes outperform their peers and attract top talent, she notes.

Mitigate climate change (Sustainability attracts clients and top talent)

South Africa’s agriculture, food production and food retail companies have a firm role to play in helping the world adapt to and mitigate climate change, Ojwang says.

“Changes in how South Africa’s agriculture, food production and food retail companies operate could go a long way towards reversing our country’s status as one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters,” she says.

The new COP28 United Arab Emirates Declaration on Climate and Health, signed by more than 140 countries at the UN’s COP28 climate change talks, stresses how important food systems are to fully achieving the Paris Agreement’s long-term goals, aimed at keeping rising global temperatures at a manageable level. It calls for countries across the world to urgently adapt and transform how this sector operates.

Participating in the VNR is a solid way to give South Africa, and the world, a clear view of what agriculture, food production and food retail companies are doing to help the country reach the SDGs, how close the country is to reaching the goals and what still needs to be done, says Ojwang.

Meeting the SDGs goes beyond helping South Africa reach its greenhouse gas emissions goals. The SDGs are a set of 17 interconnected global goals adopted by the UN in 2015, aiming to address various social, economic, and environmental challenges by 2030. These goals address various developmental challenges such as poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality, clean water, sustainable cities and climate action.

Companies that contribute to South Africa – and the world – attaining the SDGs gain a so-called social licence to operate because they are able to demonstrate that they are contributing to achieving a more equitable and sustainable world.

Contributors to greenhouse gas emissions (Sustainability agriculture attracts clients and top talent)

So far, 71 South African companies have submitted case studies for the VNR process. Of those, seven operate in the agriculture, food production and food retail sector, and the GCNSA would like to see several more companies take part so that a more comprehensive view of the sector is achieved, Ojwang says.

South Africa’s agriculture, food production and food retail sector contributes considerably to the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. South Africa is one of the world’s top 10% of greenhouse gas emitters, which were collectively responsible for almost half of global energy-related emissions in 2021, according to the International Energy Agency.

The more than 150 countries that signed the United Arab Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action represent more than two-thirds of the nations in the world.

South Africa’s first VNR was submitted in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic, and the country’s economic landscape has changed radically since then, Ojwang says.

“The time is ripe for a new VNR, especially as we have only seven years to go until 2030. A comprehensive 2024 VNR will show us a clear and direct pathway to setting South Africa on course for social and economic prosperity.”

How to participate

To participate in the VNR, register using the GCNSA’s online registration form. (https://tinyurl.com/RegisterVNR2024)

Information you need to participate:

To be ready to fill in the registration form, you will need to:

  • Have available a list of the SDGs your organisation has prioritised
  • Have an approved quote from a senior leader available to express your company’s SDG ambitions
  • Be ready to indicate trade associations and strategic partners or suppliers you would like to participate in the VNR
  • Have confirmation that you are authorised to register your company for the VNR process

What is the Global Compact Network South Africa?

The United Nations Global Compact Network South Africa is a business-led platform that works to accelerate and scale the collective national impact of delivering on the National Development Plan, UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles.

The UN Global Compact is the largest corporate sustainability platform in the world, whose mission is to mobilise a global movement of sustainable companies to create the world we want. When CEOs sign up their companies to the UN Global Compact, they make a principles-based commitment to integrate into their business the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles on Human Rights, Labour Protection, Anti-Corruption and Environmental Protection. In addition, they commit to take action on the SDGs.

For more information: https://globalcompactsa.org.za/

Sustainability attracts clients and top talent


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Sustainability attracts clients and top talent


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