Environment does matter: Gigaba

By Drum Digital
13 July 2012

Companies should include concerns about environmental impact in their corporate strategy, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Friday.

"The environment does matter," he told a UN Global Compact Network SA breakfast in Johannesburg.

"It is important that issues of the environment and sustainability are put firmly on our national agenda as different stakeholders to accumulate a national response to all of these challenges that we are focusing on."

Gigaba said business could no longer be driven purely by profits and not consider the environment and society around them.

The UN Global Compact Network was established in 2000 by the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to address sustainability globally.

Through the local partner National Business Initiative, companies and organisations subscribe to 10 principles in the UN Global Compact Network. These embrace human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. The signatories are then expected to incorporate these values into their organisational strategy.

Gigaba said: "It is important for countries in Africa to really warm to the Global Compact because we, more than anybody else, have enormous challenges ahead of us."

South Africa had to provide leadership on sustainability in the continent, he said.

"The action of each individual country, peoples and corporates is critical because when added up, if everybody took responsibility at an individual level, we would then be able to add up to a global response."

Gigaba said the South African economy was minerals and energy intensive, making a transition to a green economy a complex issue.

Last week, Gigaba announced that all state-owned enterprises had become signatories of the UN Global Compact Network.

Eskom's CEO Brian Dames commended the companies which had already signed, saying more should come on board. A total of 47 local companies had signed. Eight multi-national firms in South Africa had endorsed the move.

"We need sustainability to be embedded deeper into corporate strategies," Dames said.

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