ESG: LASG, private sector stakeholders seek collaboration for circular economy

Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and private sector stakeholders have emphasised the importance of collaboration to enhance Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) integration into manufacturing operations to drive the circular economy.

They spoke at a private sector ESG forum on Wednesday in Lagos with the theme: “Is the Private Sector Accountable: A case for sustainable practices?”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that ESG is a framework used to assess an organisation’s business practices and performance on sustainability and ethical issues.

Circular economy is a model of production and consumption aimed at reusing and regenerating materials or products in a sustainable and environment friendly way.

Sanwo-Olu was represented by his Special Adviser, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Dr Oreoluwa Finnih-Awokoya.

He noted that the state’s positioning as the commercial heart of Nigeria and the African continent, made it an attraction point for diverse businesses across the world.

Sanwo-Olu, however, stressed that the current global realities occasioned by climate change and other economic challenges, necessitated the need to enhance the private sector’s potential to drive sustainability.

“Sustainability development is the essence of our shared commitment to ensure that the wellbeing of current and future generations is safeguarded.

“To achieve this balance, we must hold the private sector accountable to the ESG concepts while we continue to implement various innovative policies to attract investments and prioritise ease of doing business.

“The private sector must begin to focus on renewable energy, waste management, transportation, and others to deliver sustainable solutions while we roll out policies that provide incentives, offer advisory services to achieve this goal.

“While we are fully aware that sustainability is a shared responsibility, we believe that working collaboratively with the private sector is the way to go and Lagos is more than committed to partnering with the private sector to achieve ESG integration,” he said.

The private sector must begin to focus on renewable energy, waste management, transportation, and others to deliver sustainable solutions while we roll out policies that provide incentives, offer advisory services to achieve this goal.

Creating sustainable value

The Managing Director, British American Tobacco Nigeria (BAT), Mr Yarub Al-Bahrani, said the company would continue to create a better tomorrow by reducing the health impact of the business and creating sustainable value for stakeholders.

This ambition, he explained, had birthed a strong commitment to collectively advance the cause to reshape the narrative around sustainability, giving rise to the forum.

Al-Bahrani added that there had become a clear and compelling case for accountability in the private sector to ensure ethical and sustainable business practices and positive social contributions to Africa’s development.

“Governance, environmental impact, and social responsibility are not just slogans; they represent the pillars upon which our future prosperity rests and this is why we have convened this forum.

“The uniting of leading private sector companies is a demonstration to our collective commitment to accountability and signifies a paradigm shift in the narrative of the manufacturing industry.

“The outcomes of our discussions today will determine the legacy we leave for generations to come, shaping a world that thrives on inclusivity, equity, and resilience,” he said.

Mr Pieter Scholtz, KPMG Partner and Africa ESG Lead, highlighted the need for organisations to incorporate financial reporting and other ESG strategies into their operations.

According to Scholtz, the legislative stage is coming so it makes no sense for the private sector to sit and wait but it has become the duty of the sector to get their ESG strategies right.

“It has been proven that sustainability linked products grow six times faster than others while companies that employ net zero emissions are seen to reduce their operating expenses.

“Also, lots of companies are now starting to gain productivity via ESG incorporation so the private sector has to take the aggressive lead seeing that there is no logic in not embracing ESG,” he said.

Mrs Odiri Erewa-Meggison, Director, External Affairs, BAT, emphasising the importance of collaboration to drive ESG integration, said there must be joint programmes to drive innovation for its adoption.

Erwa-Meggison revealed the company’s plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and to continue maintaining its zero accident and high safety portfolio across its factories.

“It is important to have all stakeholders (inclusive of academia, manufacturing, and government) fora on what must be achieved.

“Manufacturers can produce products that are eco-friendly, and each part (of us) must come into the whole to achieve what we need to do,” she said.

Mr Musa Usman, the Assistant Director, Environment Quality and Technology, NASREA, called for regulations to encourage manufacturers on pollution control, low carbon emissions, improve circular economy and resource and energy efficiency.

Usman said emission targets must be set for manufacturers while compelling them to align their processes to these standards to ensure reduced carbon footprints.

“Carbon pricing and carbon tax would also compel manufacturing companies to do what’s right.

“These ESG policies must be geared towards promoting lower carbon emissions, and not seen to discourage or hinder companies,” he said. (NAN)

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