By Chioma Obinna
Worried about the impacts of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic among others, the Lagos Business School Sustainability Centre, LBSS, IHS (Nigeria) Limited and the Global Reporting Initiative, GRI, Africa hosts the annual (virtual) International Sustainability Conference (ISC), on Friday.
In preparation for the annual forum, LBSSC hosted an in-person stakeholders meeting themed “The Role of the Private Sector in Building Resilient Systems”.
According to them, the impacts of climate change, economic volatility, the COVID-19 Pandemic, rising levels of poverty, and humanitarian crises, have revealed vulnerabilities in essential systems.
“From food supply and energy to healthcare and transportation infrastructure, there have been unprecedented negative impacts on the value and supply chains on which society depends. These are all realities in the Nigerian business environment today.
“The shocks hit hard on businesses, but by applying ‘sustainability’ thinking and actions, private sector organisations can drive solutions that will have a positive impact on society, value chains, staff, customers and their business performance as well,” LBS and partners maintained.
In their welcome addresses, the Head, of Sustainability, Lagos Business School (LBS), Mrs Oreva Atanya, and Douglas Kativu, Director, of Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). Mrs Atanya emphasized said the LBS’s goal was to support the private sector organisations to be more sustainable internally and in terms of their external footprints.
“We hope businesses take the learnings from this meeting to re-evaluate and improve their approach to sustainability and CSR in a way that creates a more positive impact for the society, their stakeholders and shareholders as well”
Speaking on harnessing the potential of sustainability reporting in building resilient systems, Mr Kativu stressed the need for businesses to move past a culture of compliance to drive long-term change. He also appreciated the role of LBS in developing leaders to drive sustainable businesses in Africa.
In her special remarks on behalf of IHS (Nigeria) Limited, Director, Sustainability and Corporate Communications, Cima Sholotan, encouraged the attendees to move past problems into action. In her speech,
“We need to think bigger and long term. From an approach to staving off hunger to effective end-to-end value chain solutions that also provides much-needed services to a vulnerable population. We need to see resilience as a win-win outcome for businesses and other stakeholders to pursue together.”
The meeting, which drew sustainability professionals and important stakeholders, also included informative speed talks and interactive sessions on Sustainability Disclosure and Food Security in Nigeria.
Delivering the session ‘Sustainability Disclosures in Nigeria’, Tinuade Awe, CEO of NGX Regulation, highlighted the significance of embedding sustainability into fundamental business operations in Nigeria. According to her, since the sustainability guidelines went into effect in 2018, businesses in Nigeria have struggled to implement sustainability regulating principles. Although the adoption rate remains low at 10%, the private sector has made some headway in implementing sustainable guiding concepts over the years.
Leading the second conversation on food security, Value Chain Adviser at GIZ’s Nigeria Competitiveness Project (NICOP), Opeyemi Famakinde, in her presentation themed ‘Answering Nigeria’s Food Security’ said that NICOP has focused on large, medium, and small-scale businesses. There is also a focus on strengthening farmers’ and buyers’ relationships and ease of access. She underlined the role of building resilient food systems and addressing the food security challenges in Nigeria.
The stakeholder meeting is a pre-engagement leading up to LBS’ Annual International Sustainability Conference (ISC) which will be held on Friday, November 18, 2022. The ISC is an annual dialogue-to-action forum that brings various stakeholders together to advance sustainable development through business. The platform shares knowledge and inspires business leaders to embed sustainability and responsible business practices in their strategy and operations to result in a positive impact not only on business performance but on society as well. This year the conference will focus on the theme ‘Building Resilient Systems for Sustainable Development and the forum is co-convened with the support of Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Africa, IHS (Nigeria) Limited and Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI).