The seventeen (17) United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015 has 'sustainable cities and communities' as SDG No. 11. African Agenda 2063, is an initiative which is broader than SDGs in both scope and timeframe, given that it incorporates sustainability in addition to social and economic considerations over a period of fifty (50) years up to 2063 compared to 2030 for the SDGs. As a country, Zimbabwe conducted a review in December 2020 to evaluate progress and challenges towards the attainment of SDGs by 2030, a timeline which aligns to Vision 2030 which is being pursued under five (5) year National Development Strategy (NDS) I and II. As the world prepare to gather in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) running for two (2) weeks starting 30th November 2023, Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) as well as sustainability issues will once again dominate world news. Zimbabwe has adopted climate proof and/or climate smart agriculture known as Pfumvudza to respond to negative effects of climate change and businesses are expected to align to ESG and sustainability initiatives.

Legislative and Regulatory Framework in Zimbabwe

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA), established under the Environmental Management Act Chapter 20:27 enacted in 2002 is mandated with sustainable management of the natural resources, protection of the environment, prevention of pollution and environmental degradation. EMA also coordinates implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) signed under the auspices of the United Nations such as Stockholm and Bamako Conventions. ESG reporting has been limited to compliance with EMA regulations in form of certification and/or approvals with little connectivity to financial statements. Starting January 2024 companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) and the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX) should adopt core sustainability disclosure metrics as per Practice Note No. 16 issued on 13th November 2023 by the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange pursuant to section 3 (1) (h) of Statutory Instrument (SI) 134 of 2019. The disclosures are categorised under Economic, Environmental, Social and Governance disclosures.

ESG and Sustainability Standards

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting should be undertaken in three (3) scopes, namely; direct emissions generated by the organisation, indirect emissions based on energy consumption and indirect emissions arising from the organisation's impact on the wider community. The Public Accountants and Auditors Board in Zimbabwe (PAAB) made a call for evidence towards early adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) S1 and S2 which deal with deal with General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information (IFRS S1) and Climate Related Disclosures (IFRS S2). The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) through IFRS Accounting Standards and IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards respectively seeks to ensure financial statements and sustainability disclosures are reported to investors and other capital market participants effective January 2024. This series on ESG and Sustainability Reporting shall further explore the new reporting requirements and evaluate opportunities for business organisations to leverage on towards sustainable operations.

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