Leading African Energy Conglomerate, Sahara Group has been lauded by the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals Fund (UNSDGF) for its unwavering commitment to spearheading private sector involvement in driving global campaigns for achieving the SDGs.
Speaking at the launch of the new report on Universality, business and SDGs in New York, Paloma Duran, Director, UNSDGF said Sahara’s contribution to the SDGs had boosted the narrative of business being a key stakeholder in promoting sustainability initiatives.
“We truly appreciate the support and dedication from Sahara Group as well as the company’s commitment to its membership of the Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) that was formed to better align public-private partnerships for sustainable development through business leaders of major companies from various industries worldwide. We are delighted to see Sahara leading the SDG charge through its various Corporate Responsibility initiatives, the Food Africa Project and midwifing platforms for private sector involvement across Africa,” said the UNSDGF Director.
Entitled ‘Universality and the SDGs: A business perspective’, the report is sequel to the maiden edition (‘Business and the United Nations: Working Together towards the Sustainable Development Goals: Framework for Action’) which set tone for private sector perspectives on how companies can address the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through collaboration.
The new report is based on a series of global workshops and dialogues with the private sector and examines some of the key issues facing businesses working to incorporate and implement the SDGs within their organization. Insight and input from over100 companies all over the globe are presented in the report, including common elements gleaned from more structured workshops held in Nigeria, Colombia, Spain, and the United States.
A case study on Sahara Group’s ‘Light Up Nigeria Challenge’ features in the report and highlights how the SDGs can be incorporated into a company’s core business activity, the crucial importance of establishing diverse partnerships to bring about sustainable and targeted change.
Working in conjunction with ENACTUS Nigeria, Sahara Groups hosts the annual ‘Light Up Nigeria Challenge’ to encourage innovation in alternative and renewable energy resources. The competition harvests projects from students from around the country showcasing alternative energy sources and innovations to help ensure sustainable electricity supply in Nigeria.
The 2015 competition, which attracted entries from 28 different schools, involved developing simple models to reduce energy production costs and encourage the use of alternative energy sources in communities, small businesses and schools. “This competition provides a national and international platform for young people to present their ideas and empowers them to make real change in their communities. It also serves to power innovation in the energy sector where the Sahara Group conducts most of its business, helping develop more efficient and environmentally-friendly solutions while contributing to sustainability,” the report stated.
In Nigeria, the PSAG has scored a huge point through the Food Africa project which mirrors how business, the UN and other stakeholders can collaborate to create a sustainable development platform.
The Food Africa Project is a collaborative initiative involving Sahara Group, UNSDGF, Roca Brothers and the Kaduna State Government, directed at empowering communities and alleviating poverty through food security. The 5- year project is an Agro-base initiative envisaged to integrate the entire food value chain – the farmer, wholesaler, retailer and consumer- providing a sustainable source of food security, poverty alleviation and eradication, skill acquisition and social inclusiveness.
The project seeks to: provide employment, eradicate poverty and empower the people – It is estimated that about 500,000 people will be impacted both directly and indirectly by the project; reduce food wastage through the recycling of food produce that do not meet the proposed standards for offtake and increasing production substantially to encourage the development of sustainable food infrastructure in Kaduna State, with initial investment in vegetables.
Sahara’s Executive Director and Co-Founder, Tonye Cole, said the company is committed to pursuing the emergence of formidable PSAG platforms through which the SDG-F can partner with the Private Sector to achieve the SDGs in Nigeria.
Cole said this would enable businesses align their operations with the 17 SDGs as well as continuously gauge their contribution to each global goal, monitoring impact and implementing new ideas to effect improvement. “Increased involvement of the Private Sector will in the long run enhance the sustainability of business as SDGs are good for business.”