With an unmatched pedigree through partnerships with state departments, big corporations, and the United Nations, the conference is one of a kind and extremely timely. Some of the large corporate partners include:
The summit kicked off with keynote speaker Iain Williamson, Group CEO of platinum partner Old Mutual, noting that the interconnectivity between economic, social and environmental systems is more evident than it’s ever been. "Evidence suggests that a good grounding in financial concepts from an early age can be life-changing. This creates a sustainable pipeline across the continent," he said. “The journey to sustainability is not straightforward. We need to have a collaborative mindset to turn our collective challenges into opportunities.”
Panel discussions brought together speakers who explored trends, best practices and shared where they see sustainability going in the coming years.
During his keynote address, David Renwick, head of investment banking at Absa emphasised that the organisation is deeply committed to sustainability and the key to success is partnerships. Absa is the first South African bank to publish sustainable financing targets, powering South Africa through sustainable financing.
Moderated by Heidi Barends, head: sustainable finance at Absa, the discussion delved into the gap between where we want to go and whether the goals are feasible. Dr. Stanley Semelane, head of stakeholder relations, ESG and sustainability at Sasol highlighted the “need to build our economy in a sustainable manner so that future generations can continue to live on earth!” He went on to say that "South Africa needs to balance social-economic needs and climate sustainability needs in a country that sits with the highest unemployment in the world."
Vusi Mngomezulu, head of sales at IoT.nxt, a subsidiary of Vodacom, was joined by speakers from HPE in South Africa, Microsoft and IBM Consulting, in a conversation about the opportunities presented by using the Internet of Things to make cities more efficient and sustainable. The panelists noted the need for cooperation between stakeholders and that “what you can’t measure, you can’t manage.”
The basics are there, it’s up to us the direction we go in - that was the key point from this discussion which featured Dean Alborough, head of ESG at Old Mutual Alternative Investments. Panelists stressed the need for urgency and how partnerships and reimagining how we measure gross domestic product will get us closer to sustainable growth.
Umgeni Water’s laboratory services manager, Dr. Ntsapokazi Deppa, was part of a discussion around one of the most important and scarce resources. The panelists took the audience through the current best practices, the options available, and the need for polluters to play a role in reducing the impact pollution has on water quality.
In this case study Nemesis Accounting’s CEO, Shani Naidoo, asked the important question: Are we ready for how development and sustainability have evolved? Shani covered possible solutions to South Africa’s economic problems, including the effect that neurology has. She took attendees through practical steps, emphasising how changing internally can have an external impact on the country at large.