Regional Workshop and launch of Regional Partnership for the promotion of SDG and Sustainability Reporting in Africa


24 - 28 January 2022
Online

From the 24 to the 28 of January, UNCTAD, together with the Ministry of Finance of Cameroon, have organized a workshop on Enabling policy frameworks for enterprise sustainability and SDG reporting in Africa. The Workshop took place virtually and was attended by over 400 stakeholders from 35 African Countries. Participants included senior government officials in charge of SDG implementation and heads of national authorities in charge of enterprise accounting and reporting (including financial reporting and sustainability reporting), NGOs dedicated to SDG reporting and sustainable business development, standard-setting bodies, professional bodies, and associations of accountants, senior representatives of statistical offices, environmental and labour authorities, academia and private sector.

Over the 5 days, the Workshop discussed the latest trends of sustainability reporting worldwide and at the regional and national levels. It presented the best practices and lessons learned from the implementation of UNCTAD sustainability and SDG reporting tools and the development of national action plans in the beneficiary countries. The Workshop raised awareness about the importance of establishing enabling policy frameworks for business sustainability and SDG reporting in the African region. During the last day of the Workshop, 40 organizations representing 20 countries in Africa together with UNCTAD launched a Regional Partnership aimed at facilitating cooperation and promoting sharing practices for improving national sustainability reporting infrastructures.

Opening the meeting, the Minister of Finance of Cameroon, Mr Louis Paul Motaze, said in his opening remarks “Countries, including Cameroon, are still missing a framework to measure the contribution of the private sector to the SDGs in a period where global standards evolve fast. The regional workshop is an opportunity to provide answers on sustainability reporting needs and to learn from other’s experiences […].  UNCTAD has developed its indicators to measure the contribution of the private sector to the SDGs. National ownership of these reporting tools and their use in national institutions will considerably broaden the possibilities in terms of facilitating investments and donor funding”.

Richard Bolwijn, Officer in charge of Enterprise Branch of UNCTAD, highlighted that UNCTAD believes that a collaborative process based on a multi-stakeholder dialogue and cooperation is a key success factor for sustainability and SDG reporting by companies. In this regard, Mr Bolwijn stated that a regional partnership would benefit countries by creating a communication channel for continuous experience sharing, support and consultation.

Mr Louis-Félix Koul A Well, President of the General Assembly of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Cameroon (ONECCA), underlined that “Cameroon is currently in a reform context, as well as the public finance, and the success of these reforms rely on the competencies and the capacities of women and man […], ONECCA, as the regulator are committed to working in partnership in the implementation of the non-financial reporting framework and infrastructure in Cameroon, in accordance with the SDG 12.6.1.” He then continued “we want to apply good practices and good practices in a sustainable way. The development of the SDG principles into company reporting can help businesses to fight against poverty. Our participation goes in the same direction.”

Ms Diane Ndeuna, Secretary-General of the Cameroon Entrepreneurs' Movement (MECAM), commented that “Sustainable Development should also be seen through the lenses of corporate responsibility and the various actions of stakeholders and their investments in companies. As MECAM, we believe that it is important to engage with all these stakeholders and throughout all sectors to provide transparency and raise awareness on the need for sustainability reporting. This can help also to hold companies accountable for their impact on the environment”.

Ms Maria Ria Nonyana-Mokabane, Chief Director at the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition of South Africa, made an intervention explaining the takeaways of the of the implementation of the Development Account Project and the application of UNCTAD tools in her country. Ms Nonyana-Mokabane summarized the main challenges and strategies by concluding that the consultative workshops between all stakeholders involved were crucial to highlight the gaps in the application on sustainability reporting frameworks in companies reporting. Mr Cliff Nyandoro, representing the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya, shared results of the practical experience of Development Account Project implementation in Kenya. He suggested that capacity building activities among relevant stakeholders have been very useful in passing on the knowledge on sustainability reporting. He then concluded by the statement: “We appreciate the Partnership initiative as we seek to entrench sustainability reporting in entities reporting cycle across the wider African continent”.

During the last day of the Workshop, the Regional Partnership was launched, and the member organizations had an interactive discussion on the modalities and topics of the newly-established group. It has been agreed that the partnership will be Chaired for the first year by the Ministry of Finance of Cameroun, and co-chaired by Kenya, represented by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya, as well as South Africa, represented by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition. 
 

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Co-organizer(s):
Ministry of Finance of Cameroon
Sponsor / funding:
United Nations Development Account

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