Workshop on impact investing in Zambia and corporate sustainability reporting for the implementation of SDGs in Africa

23 - 24 March 2023
, Zambia

The United Nations Conference for Trade and Development and the African Regional Partnership for Sustainability and SDG reporting held a Workshop on Impact Investing in Zambia and Corporate Sustainability Reporting for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa (ARP). The workshop was organized in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission, Sub-regional Office for Southern Africa (ECA SRO-SA) and the Ministry of Finance and National Planning (MoFNP) 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 also allowed members of the ARP to benefit from the discussion and allowed them to discuss priorities and the next steps. The workshop constituted an activity under a Development Account project entitled "Toward Integrated National Financing Frameworks", implemented in Zambia by ECA 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. Ms Lois Lulube, Permanent Secretary from the Ministry of Finance and National Planning of Zambia, stated: "We are pleased that UNCTAD is introducing a strong regional component to our deliberations. We hope to leverage the expertise of the African Regional Partnership to strengthen the capacity of the public and private sectors in Zambia to pursue Corporate Sustainability Reporting". 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. 

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 panelists 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.
The African Regional Partnership for Sustainability and SDG reporting played a critical role in bringing a regional perspective to the topics discussed at the workshop. With the recent addition of three new members, including the Corporate Social Responsibility Network of Lesotho, the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development of Eswatini, and the Corporate Social Responsibility Network Zimbabwe (CSRNZ), the partnership now boasts 53 members from 27 countries. The inclusion of these new members highlights the partnership's continued efforts to promote private sector engagement in delivering on the SDGs in Africa. The partnership's contributions to the workshop demonstrated the importance of the regional collaboration and knowledge sharing in advancing sustainable development efforts in Africa. As such, the partnership's continued growth and engagement in the region will improve the disclosure on the contribution of the private sector to the SDGs in Africa and improve the data collection for the SDG 12.6.1.

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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United Nations Economic Commission, Sub-regional Office for Southern Africa (ECA SRO-SA), Ministry of Finance and National Planning (MoFNP)
Sponsor / funding:
United Nations Development Account

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