In the Vision2050 report of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) a new agenda for business is formulated. Vision2050 sets a pathway toward a world in which nine billion people can live well, and within the limits of the planet. It will be implemented through Action2020, which consists of three elements. The third element is about impact measurement and action monitoring to assess progress at company/sector/country levels that can be effectively captured in a Corporate Sustainability report. This leads us to the next section of this article.
ELIA was invited to participate and contribute to the launch event of the GRI G4 Guidelines in Mauritius on 5 November 2013. This event was organised by MIoD and Omnicane. ELIA has been providing technical and advisory services to organizations in Mauritius to carry out Corporate Sustainability (CS) reporting using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework since 2011. ELIA provided technical consultancy services to Omnicane Ltd for their Sustainability Report 2010 and 2011, and their first Integrated Report 2012. ELIA also provided consultancy/advisory services to MIoD for preparing its first Integrated Annual Report 2012/2013 using the G3.1 guidelines and protocols, and is currently supporting Terra Ltd in completing its Integrated Report.
During the Launch Event of GRI G4, Mrs Jane Valls CEO of MIoD asked the audience who else apart from these organisations were willing to embark on CS reporting using the GRI Frameworks. There was a noticeable silence in the room; hardly anybody raised their hands. The same can be said for the discussions that followed where few people felt comfortable to comment or ask questions. It was our impression that many of the organisations who were present came to check things out, but were not convinced how working with the GRI framework could benefit them. Yet at the same time, Mauritius is celebrated as the success story for corporate governance and business development in the Indian Ocean and Africa Region. Questions like: “Will it pay off the initial investment” did not really help the discussion either. When the discussion eventually landed in “where to go for recycling” it became quite clear that innovative leadership and forward thinking that is outlined in Vision2050 and Action2020 is still largely lacking in Mauritius.
A forward-thinking leader does not wait for government to take action; nor for sustainability reporting to become compulsory; and neither to take a risk-free attitude about the value of investing in corporate sustainability. These are defensive positions that will leave us unprepared for where we are heading or where we ought to be heading. Transformative questions to ask ourselves are: When we invest what are the future potentials that we invest in? Is this the potential for a world, as Vision2050 outlined, where 9 billion people can live well and within the limits of our planet, or a future world that collapses with 9 billion people exhausting natural capital (or eco-system services) and the social capital on which they depend?
Prof Mervyn King mentioned several times during the GRI event that integrative thinking is the key and we fully agree with him. Integrative thinking is, however, not something that comes to people automatically. We need to learn anew how to think and act in terms of interrelatedness and interconnectedness and to then allow this new competency to guide our Corporate Vision and Actions.
There are amazing opportunities for the private sector in Mauritius to play a catalytic role in creating change for sustainability. MIoD and ELIA are currently developing a new series of training courses on Corporate Sustainability to support the private sectors develop these core competencies. These training courses will also include working with the GRI Guidelines and how to use it as a strategic corporate leadership tool for sustainability. The first in this series of trainings will be carried out in February 2014. We will keep you posted!
This article was first published in the November Edition of the MIoD Newsletter.