Regional Preparatory Conference for Africa
Nairobi, October 17, 2001
Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Chair, BASD
BASD is a grouping of business organisations from all around the world,
not just from northern countries, under the auspices of the International
Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Business Council on Sustainable
Development (WBCSD). We've just had a meeting in Paris and perhaps I could
inform you of some of the conclusions of that meeting, which was attended
by, among others, African representatives such as Laurraine Lotter who
has just spoken and Reuel Khosa from ESKOM. We were looking to highlight
some of the progress made by business since Rio.
We are aware that there are many good examples of progress, and many
would agree that there are not enough good examples, but in Johannesburg
we could improve on those examples, and demonstrate more of them. We decided
that there are three keys to this:
Initiatives should demonstrate progress under the three aspects
of Sustainable Development - economic, social and environmental
As Laurraine Lotter emphasised, there has to be work in partnership
with others - even though we may sometimes be able to undertake the
economic part on our own, we certainly need assistance with the social
and environmental legs. I was delighted to hear Minister Moosa's tremendous
presentation when he emphasised partnerships, including contributions
Measurement - emphasised by the Executive Director of UNEP,
Dr Topfer - that we have to set targets, and clearly and verifiably
measure progress against these. That's what we try to do in business,
and if we cannot do this, we will not be credible.
I note that in Minister Moosa's presentation, he suggests that business
should adopt environmental and social auditing systems, and there are
some good examples of this in large businesses, although it is not so
easy as you go down the chain to small and medium-sized enterprises. We
have to ensure this does not become an impediment for them.
Turning to the remarks of Laurraine Lotter:
The enabling environment for investment is absolutely vital - this
was one of the critical points, and I take it that was what Minister
Moosa meant when he said that agreement to tackle marginalisations through
growth agreements, investment, financing, infrastructure, links to good
governance, etc, and we certainly think that the New Africa Initiative
will be a step and a contribution towards that.
I am delighted to see the proposal to fill gaps in investment which
was proposed by the African business group; on the sustainable use of
African resources; their beneficiation and concommitant with that, of
course, market access.
Also, most importantly, the extension of basic services to all. We
in business think that it is an essential part of business to provide
services to our customers. We realise that initially, in areas of deprivation
and poverty, this may not be possible on a commercial basis. Nonetheless
it is important, if this is to be sustainable, to work towards investments
in providing infrastructure which delivers these services, which will
allow society to develop the economic activity in those areas, so that
the economic leg becomes more sustainable. This is something which we
in business are very committed.
Lastly, at our meeting in Paris last week, businesses from all around
the world expressed strong support for the Summit in Johannesburg, but
they equally felt that the Summit should be adequately funded. We asked
each of the business representatives to go back to their governments,
particularly the donor governments, to ensure that they commit adequate
funds for the conference. It should be noted that the Summit is not just
a meeting for South Africa, but for the whole of Africa, and that might
be something that other Ministers would like to emphasise.
But you might ask, what about business? Shouldn't business play its part?
I think business is committed to making a contribution towards the infrastructure
of the Summit, and other appropriate methods of support. We realise that
this would be part of business' overall investment in Africa, and we look
forward to working together with that aim, in a spirit of partnership.