Businesses urged to integrate ESG principles


By Buertey Francis BORYOR 

Business leaders have been reminded of the need to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles into their operations and business strategies to enable the world to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target by 2030.

The United Nations Global Compact Network Ghana’s Board Chairman, Sulemanu Koney, who made the appeal during the organisation’s CEOs Breakfast Meeting held in Accra, bemoaned that while sustainable development is receiving a lot of attention, not enough progress is being made to meet the 2030 target, emphasising the need for businesses to increase their efforts in that area.

ESG principles are crucial to meeting some of the targets under the SDGs, such as limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and halving emissions by 2030.

“As you may be aware, more companies are talking about sustainability, speeches are being given and pledges are being made. Despite this, there is not enough progress happening to achieve the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development. In fact, we need to double our efforts,” he noted.

For instance, he lamented that at the current rate, it will take over 160 years to achieve gender equality in terms of women’s economic empowerment and participation. And to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, emissions must be halved by 2030.

Furthermore, he said it is estimated that one-third of all workers – over a billion-working people – worldwide earn less than what they need to afford a decent standard of living.

The CEOs breakfast meeting brought together UN Global Compact companies in Ghana to discuss the latest global CEO survey by the UN Global Compact and Accenture and the SDG Stocktake Report, and to introduce a new programme dubbed Forward Faster Initiative.

It afforded the participants an opportunity to discuss progress made on the SDGs in their businesses and sectors and identify challenges in achieving the global goals in their businesses and sectors.

Taking the threshold of commitment even higher, the organisation’s Executive Director, Tolu Kweku Lacroix, in an interview with the B&FT after the meeting, argued that CEOs remunerations be linked to SDGs’ performance so as to incentivise them to give their all.

With the 2030 deadline fast approaching, he urged companies to be more deliberate and ambitious by putting their words into action.

Forward Faster Initiative

Touching on the Forward Faster Initiative, he indicated that it is a global platform to guide companies on where to make the biggest and fastest impact before the 2030 target.

The initiative, he said, addresses five areas of action; namely: gender equality, climate action, living wage, water resilience and finance and investment, which have been selected because they have the power to accelerate progress across all 17 Global Goals.

The UN Global Compact Network Ghana is a special initiative by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, mandated to support businesses in aligning their operations with ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption and to contribute to the achievement of the sustainable development goals.

The network offers expertise, best practices and technical resources and promotes sustainable practices among Ghanaian businesses by providing access to tools and benchmarking resources, guidance on sustainable reporting, facilitating accelerator modules on key sustainability topics, and providing a platform for engagement through events and dialogues.

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