Captains of industry in Africa and the Middle East have met in Accra to discuss issues of sustainability and responsible business practices.
Some Members of Parliament (MPs) also attended the roundtable held on Wednesday with the view to encouraging corporate entities to align themselves with the United Nations (UN) Global Compact.
The compact seeks, among other objectives, to re-orient the interest of corporate institutions from profit to sustainability through corporate governance.
What is UN Global Compact?
The UN Global Compact is a UN initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies and to report on their implementation. The compact, which was announced by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000, is a principle-based framework for businesses, outlining 10 principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.
The UN Global Compact is the world's largest corporate citizenship initiative with two objectives: To mainstream the 10 principles in business activities around the world and to catalyse actions in support of broader UN goals such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The Accra roundtable followed the release of the Africa Sustainability Barometer, a collaboration project between the UN Global Compact and Financial Times’ This is Africa, which gauges the state of corporate sustainability reporting on the continent.
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Opening of meeting
Opening the event, the Danish Ambassador to Ghana, Margit Tomsen, said sustainability was important in all spheres of human endeavour.
She said the Accra meeting suggested that the private sector was taking its responsibility on sustainability very seriously, and expressed the hope that it would help drive the UN Global Compact.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Dr Tony Aubynn, observed that Ghana was enjoying increased foreign investment but that also posed some challenges to the nation in terms of spreading the benefits to all citizens.
He said there was the need for corporate institutions to rethink their strategies and enhance transparency and sustainability in their operations.
Dr Aubynn, who is also the Chairman of the Global Compact Network Ghana, urged corporate institutions that had not signed up to the UN Global Compact to do so.
The Regional Representative - Africa and Head of Transparency and Anti-Corruption at the UN Global Compact, Ms Olajobi Makinwa, said the compact aimed at ensuring private sector sustainability.
In a discussion on ‘Corporate sustainability in Ghana: Challenges and opportunities’, moderated by Dr Aubynn, the panellists called for more publicity and education on corporate social responsibility (CSR) delivered by business entities to ensure their appreciation.
The Managing Director of Cal Bank Ltd, Mr Frank Adu, urged banks not to just give credit to their clients but also ensure that the banks lived up to their social responsibility.
He urged corporate institutions to make more direct investment in the local communities where they operated.
The Founder and President of the Ghana Association of Women Entrepreneurs, Ms Lucia Quachey, said ignorance and lack of information undermined the operations of entrepreneurs, especially women.
She said sustainability was key to small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs), adding, “It’s a matter of survival for them.”
Ms Quachey stressed the need to address the challenges of technology, marketing, packaging and access to credit that the SMEs faced in order to ensure their sustainability.
She called for effective policies and linkages between large scale and small-scale enterprises to enhance the growth of the latter.