President Ramaphosa's call to action on the green economy in his newsletter this week signalled recognition of the need for South Africa to build its recovery based on a climate-resilient economy fit for these unprecedented times. This is a welcome call to action from the President and the timing couldn't be more pertinent.

As South Africa plots its desperately needed economic recovery programme post-Covid, the President's impetus to look at strategies to build an inclusive economy that creates sustainable growth is vital.

Across the broader spectrum of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), we have seen increased awareness, understanding and expectation for a step-change in the way it is incorporated and embedded into business.

This has accelerated how stakeholders are including ESG factors into their thinking and integrating the E, S and G rather than treating them as three separate issues. Compare to a decade ago, when these were relegated to elements of the 'nice to have' as a compliance obligation; now it is a necessity.

Indeed, it is broad stakeholder demand that is driving ESG in terms of strategy, implementation and how it is measured. Ultimately, this is leading to increased scrutiny which is impacting the way organisations are now held accountable. Combined with the fact that COVID-19 has increased the need for companies to deliver on their commitments, ESG has become fundamental to corporate agendas.

The President is spot on in his assessment that efforts towards a green economy should not be relegated to the back-burner on our road to recovery. We cannot afford the evolution of progress in ESG to be stalled in exchange for a rapid response that gets us back to business-as-usual by the speediest means at any cost.


Originally published August 31, 2020.

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