Lusaka, Zambia, March 23, 2023 (ECA SRO-SA) - The United Nations Economic Commission, Sub-regional Office for Southern Africa (ECA SRO-SA) and the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development, (UNCTAD) held a Workshop on Impact Investing in Zambia and Corporate Sustainability Reporting for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa. The workshop was organized in partnership with the Ministry of Finance and National Planning (MoFNP) and African Regional Partnership for Sustainability and SDG reporting from 23rd to 24th March 2023 in Lusaka, Zambia.
The workshop's main objective was to raise awareness on the significance of impact investing and build capacity on corporate sustainability reporting to mobilize the engagement of the private sector in Zambia and across the region in delivering on SDGs. The workshop constituted an activity under a Development Account project entitled ‘Toward Integrated National Financing Frameworks’, implemented in Zambia byECA SRO SA in collaboration with UNCTAD and UN DESA. The project aims to support selected countries to mobilize and align financing with the national sustainable development priorities, in particular addressing the impact of COVID-19, as well as to foster regional and global knowledge exchange, ensuring peer learning at the regional level and knowledge transfer at the global level, to better link global policy processes to the national and regional implementation.
The opening session set the tone for the proceedings of the workshop. In her opening remarks, Ms Beatrice Mutali, UN Resident Coordinator highlighted that the compounded crises and ever more pressing needs of the global population increasingly call for businesses and financial institutions to do their fair share in pushing the SDG agenda. She also noted that “companies are increasingly held accountable, while investors move towards financing projects which produce not only financial gains but also tangible, positive impact on the society and the environment.” Mr Juteau Toussé, Chair of the African Regional Partnership, explained the role of sustainability reporting in maximising the impact of private sector engagement for delivering on SDGs and introduced the ARP to the participants. Ms Lois Mulube, Permanent Secretary from the Ministry of Finance and National Planning of Zambia, welcomed the support provided by the United Nations system, including notably rolling out the 8th National Development Plan in partnership with the private sector.
The programme then featured two panel discussions, a series of presentations, and a capacity-building component focusing on the Guidance on Core Indicators (GCI). The speakers on the first panel discussed the role of impact investing and corporate sustainability reporting in mobilising private sector engagement for delivering on SDGs. The speakers emphasized the need for an enabling environment, a coordinated approach across stakeholders, greater coherence across the reporting frameworks, awareness, and capacity building. The second panel discussion offered deep insights on the impact investment landscape in Zambia. It elaborated on some challenges, notably mismatches between investor expectations and market realities in terms of resources envelope and needs, ticket sizes, and timelines for resources. Speakers on both panels emphasized the need for continued cooperation between the government and private sector and stronger coordination across government entities.
The afternoon session offered some of the solutions, notably the ARP, constituting a forum for coordination, exchange of experiences and peer learning. It also featured presentations on the sustainability reporting practice in Zambia, the GRI, and case studies from Kenya and South Africa.
The second day provided participants with a very concrete tool supporting the sustainability reporting effort – the Guidance on Core Indicators (GCI) tool, developed by UNCTAD. The training sessions covered four dimensions of the CGI tool: Economic, Social, Environmental and Institutional. In addition, practical case studies from firms from Kenya, South Africa and Cameroon were presented, showing the potential of the GCI as a universal and flexible tool.
In their closing remarks, Ms Mwila M. Daka (MoFNP), Ms Elena Botvina (UNCTAD) and Mr Ian Filakati (ECA-SRO-SA), highlighted some of their key takeaways from the workshop, notably the need for greater coordination between the government and the private sector, the demand for further capacity building and the need to build an enabling environment for both impact investing and corporate sustainability reporting.
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