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Monday, 26 October 2015

Business leaders’ conference on corporate sustainability should adopt new tack

  Busisipho Siyobi
A learner from Mahlogedi Secondary School (Limpopo, Suuth Africa) in a pristine high-tech science lab built by Anglo American Platinum that has no running water. A key challenge for implementating corporate responsibility plans include lack of co-ordination and alignment between interventions and government’s development plans. A learner from Mahlogedi Secondary School (Limpopo, Suuth Africa) in a pristine high-tech science lab built by Anglo American Platinum that has no running water. A key challenge for implementating corporate responsibility plans include lack of co-ordination and alignment between interventions and government’s development plans. Photo © Neissan Besharati
The 5th edition of the Africa CEO Round-table and Conference on Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility will be held on November 19-20 2015 in Lagos, Nigeria. This conference has become one of the biggest platforms for discussing issues on Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as well as the promotion of a public-private synergy in order to achieve a credible business environment in Africa. The theme for this year is: ‘From Corporate Governance to Sustainable Governance’.

In light of the upcoming conference it is essential to note that the CSR agenda has contributed towards more inclusive sustainable development and the alleviation of poverty. SAIIA’s recent briefing on Corporate Social Responsibility in South Africa’s Mining Industry: An Assessment revisits the concept and role of CSR with a focus on key implementation challenges of CSR practice in the South African context. Policymakers progressively view the corporate sector as an important partner in addressing development challenges, particularly in areas such as health and education.

The interrogation of economic growth and developmental impact is an issue of growing importance, particularly in Africa. The current definition of CSR by the World Business Council of Sustainable Development makes it evident that development and the environment are important features to incorporate into any definition or legislative framework related to CSR practice.

Download the new briefing, 'Corporate Social Responsibility in South Africa’s Mining Industry: An Assessment.'

Speakers and participants at the Lagos conference plan to discuss solutions to issues such as the role of corporate governance in reaching sustainability, and how the individual pillars of sustainable development (social, economic and environmental) are related to corporate governance. With reference to the above issues, Corporate Social Responsibility in South Africa’s Mining Industry: An Assessment demonstrates that the key implementation challenges include lack of co-ordination and alignment between CSR interventions and government’s development plans, at both national and local level. This is coupled with weak monitoring and evaluation. Corporate Social Responsibility in South Africa’s Mining Industry: An Assessment demonstrates that the current CSR agenda and practice may be unsuited to effectively addressing social problems and delivering socio-economic development plans in many contexts including South Africa.

Going forward, mining companies need to think more critically about the relevance of CSR to their business and they should work closely with non-governmental organisations and civil society to ascertain context-specific diagnoses of the social and development challenges facing near-by communities. This core recommendation ought to inform the discussion at the 5th Africa CEO Round-table and Conference on Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility next month.


Busisipho Siyobi is a Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Scholar at SAIIA.

Download a SAIIA Research Report on a related topic, 'Platinum & Passes: The Impact of Mining Investments on Education Outcomes in South Africa.'