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African business leaders call for sustainable response to the COVID-19 pandemic



Image Credit: Times Now/Google

At Making Global Goals Local Business – Africa, improved labour conditions, human rights, water management, and gender equality took center stage.

Business and civil society executives from across Africa joined United Nations leaders at a virtual UN Global Compact gathering to call for greater commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals in response to challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just over 2,000 executives and experts from 35 African countries attended the virtual Making Global Goals Local Business – Africa meeting.

Speakers included United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, Othman Benjelloun, CEO of Bank of Africa Group BMCE, Celestin Mukeba, CEO, Equity Bank Congo, Siddarth Ramaswamy, Vice President, Unilever West Africa and Jane Karuku, CEO, EABL.

They participated in sessions covering everything from supply chain challenges in Africa to the opportunities for increasing gender equality in every phase of doing business.

Opening the meeting, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J Mohammed said: “We must be vigilant to prevent COVID-19 from slowing Africa’s momentum. Governments, financial institutions and the private sector must stay the course – driving sustainable investment … maintaining access to international markets … putting the brakes on corruption … and strengthening support for small and medium sized enterprises. And always, we must invest sustainably in poor and marginalized communities, leaving no one behind.”

UN Global Compact

UN Global Compact

Organised by the UN Global Compact in collaboration with Global Compact Local Networks in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Tanzania, Morocco, and the Indian Ocean and Mauritius Regional Network, the one-day online event was themed “Uniting Business for the Africa We Want: Decade of Action and Opportunities.”

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“African industry represents a vital link to the chain of more than 11,000 companies and 3,000 non-buisness signatories to the UN Global Compact.” said the CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, Sanda Ojiambo. “During today’s summit, we heard from leaders from Morocco to Mauritius and were inspired by speakers making progress on investing in youth, furthering energy production using sustainable ocean business practices, and tackling climate change and gender equality issues. It’s clear that African science and technology paired with responsible business solutions can solve education, labour, and operational challenges.”

Kenyan media personality and news anchor Yvonne Okwara hosted the event, and the talented African Children’s Choir gave a rousing drumming and singing performance at the closing.

As a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General, the United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

Launched in 2000, the mandate of the UN Global Compact is to guide and support the global business community in advancing UN goals and values through responsible corporate practices.

With more than 10,000 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and more than 60 Local Networks, it is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world.

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