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BASD Statement
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:

  1. Initiatives should demonstrate progress under the three aspects of Sustainable Development - economic, social and environmental
  2. 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 from business.
  3. 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.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development International Chamber of Commerce