The journey to a sustainable future for all involves stakeholders playing their roles effectively. Transition commitments for people, businesses, the planet and the economy are the key ambitions driving this move.
The outcomes and impacts of a well-executed sustainability strategy should deliver tangible benefits for stakeholders. The adverse effects of climate change and other social issues demand action and accountability.
Paying lip service to these issues is counterproductive and results in significant damage overall to the collaborative effort required by society to solve these challenges.
As a result, a sustainability journey should include tangible outcomes that positively impact lives and communities.
In a business context, a sustainability strategy should result in more business opportunities, cost savings and benefits for an organisation’s stakeholders.
On the African continent, sustainability outcomes should be seen through the eyes of the local communities. That way, communities take responsibility for driving these efforts because not only do they realise benefits, but the benefits address their most pressing challenges, which often on the continent are matters such as poverty, unemployment and quality of life. A win-win approach builds trust and promotes collaboration among stakeholders.
Therefore, as organisations in the public and private sectors prepare sustainability reports, it is pertinent to include the business case for why the sustainability route is the most optimal in the short and long term. It is not enough to transition to new solutions for the sake of it but to ensure and demonstrate that these transitions do no harm to the current livelihoods of people and communities but provide opportunities to improve their quality of life and earnings.
This approach to implementing and communicating on sustainability will build trust among the various stakeholders in society and accelerate efforts required to achieve the targets set. An approach to reporting that focuses on why embracing sustainability is good for the business’s bottom line can quickly get investors and providers of financial capital on board this journey.
Financing plays a vital role in this journey, and the business case for sustainability must also speak to this.
As the business case would show, sustainability reporting should educate and lead to action.
Akinyemi Awodumila is a Partner at Deloitte East Africa. He is an author who writes and speaks widely on corporate reporting topics.