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The ‘Green’ Future Has Begun!

The ‘Green’ Future Has Begun!

What path can be taken to achieve sustainability in all three areas – Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)? The first edition of the ESG Talks Conference brought together various organisations in Maputo in search of an answer. From the valuable contributions presented, one thing is certain: the world is changing and in the coming years nothing will be the same as it is today.

On 1 November, Maputo hosted the first of several planned ESG Talks conferences, an initiative that promises to bring relevant national and global issues to the debate. The concept was created by Media4Development, which owns Economia & Mercado magazine and the Diário Económico and 360º Mozambique portals. The initiative’s partners are Insite Mocambique, Stravillia Sustainability Hub and the communications agency EMS (Enhanced Media Systems). This first edition was sponsored by Standard Bank Mozambique and Ernst & Young. Under the theme “Financing, Impact and Good Practices for a Green Future in Mozambique”, the meeting also served as a forum to shed light on and promote the work of Mozambican companies, organisations and figures who stand out in implementing sustainable practices.

The relevance of ESG in the global and national context

At the opening of the event, Standard Bank’s Director of Corporate and Investment Banking, Catherine Poran, mentioned the paradigm shift brought about by the notion of ESG in the business world, in which companies are increasingly endeavouring to measure their success through their impact on people, employees, customers, the environment and society in general.

“Companies that participate in ESG are gaining a competitive advantage. ESG metrics are also important today for consumers, employees, creditors and regulators. Company leaders who strive to improve working conditions, promote diversity, give back to the community and take a stand on socio-economic issues play an important role in strengthening the company or brand,” he explained.

He gave the example of a survey carried out in 2021 by Accenture with consumers in 22 countries, which concluded that half had realigned their purchasing priorities because of ESG criteria. In other words, consumers are willing to pay more for brands that are aligned with sustainability. And Mozambicans must be among the most concerned about the planet, because “the implications of climate change are dire” in the country.

A collective responsibility

Francisco Neves, managing partner of Stravillia Sustainability HUB, explained the path that has led sustainability to become a global concern for today’s societies. “Environment, Social and Government are three sustainability criteria that the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Koffi Annan, asked the main leaders of the UN and world organisations to consider. He asked them to integrate them into their decision-making processes,” he said.

Mozambicans should be among those most concerned about the planet and the principles of sustainability, because “the implications of climate change are terrible” for the country

Over the last few decades, according to Francisco Neves, we have progressively seen a series of major social, environmental and information challenges “that commit us all and pose major questions”, as in the case of climate change. “Organisations and all of us individually must try to respond,” he noted.

But how can we invest in ESG and generate impact? The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) senior economist in Mozambique, Rómulo Corrêa, pointed out that developing countries, including Mozambique, have been facing ever greater challenges, both in relation to climate and conflicts, post-pandemic needs, etc.

And these needs come at a particularly difficult time: tax revenues are limited and there is a high level of public debt, which makes it difficult for these countries to find financing they can afford. This is why, despite the significant increase in sustainable finance instruments in 2021, most of them have emerged in the most advanced economies.

Therefore, according to the AfDB representative, it is important to start thinking about opportunities that are already a reality in developed countries and certain parts of Africa, including the so-called SRI – a synthetic indicator that aggregates a series of information to assess the sustainability of social development. “ISD auctions have the possibility of attracting funding and have the particularity of ensuring inclusion, as they converge with the agenda of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he explained.

But these opportunities come with challenges. At company level, for example, there has to be the capacity to report extremely complex information and with standards that are not yet uniform. “In an environment where several countries or companies are competing for scarce investor resources, Mozambique tends to fall behind if it doesn’t have regulations,” he warned.

ESG is no longer voluntary… but compulsory

Vicente Bento, partner & general manager at Insite, argues that the solutions to achieving sustainability “involve implementing standards”, many of which are moving from a voluntary to a compulsory regime.

And this is why, according to him, the whole universe that revolves around ESG now involves organisations that develop standards, rating agencies, regulators, report providers and consultancy firms. “There are many companies interested in this topic and contributing to the implementation of these criteria in organisations,” such as Insite itself.

“Organisations that already have a quality management standard in place,” whether in terms of environmental management or safety at work, “are already able to comply with some of the ESG criteria,” said Vicente Bento. He suggests, however, that we need to look not only at mandatory issues (imposed by regulations or as a condition for access to bank finance), but also at the value this adds to companies.

It was up to Lola Lopes, senior regional specialist for climate projects at CarbonSink – South Pole (an environmental consultancy firm), to explain “how the carbon credit market works”. It should be remembered that Mozambique became one of the most prominent markets in the world in 2022, when it was the first country to receive carbon credit earnings. “Carbon credits are generated through the implementation of projects aimed at climate mitigation.

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The private sector has the opportunity to develop projects aimed at the voluntary market, which generate carbon credits that are sold on the international market. The purchase of these carbon credits is made by companies that want to offset them,” explained Lola Lopes. Aldina Sindique, a senior specialist in climate projects at CarbonSink – South Pole, presented the production of improved stoves, which consume less charcoal and consequently reduce the pressure on forest resources, as an example to follow. As a tool that is still used intensively and on a daily basis in rural areas for cooking, reducing charcoal consumption also has an impact on the well-being of families, as it significantly reduces smoke emissions and reduces the cost of purchasing charcoal.

Good examples, outside and inside

Xana Maunze, a young Mozambican woman who had the opportunity to graduate and visit various destinations, especially in Europe, learnt about projects guided by ESG criteria.

This adventure began in 2019, when Cyclone Idai sparked her passion for sustainability, driven by the need to help mitigate the harmful effects of climate change.

Currently working as Greenbiz Group’s market coordinator at European level, Xana Maunze spoke about the changing ESG legislation in the European Union and how it could impact Mozambican companies. “We need to pay attention to the various instruments in use in Europe and which can be exploited in the country,” he said.

Meanwhile, right here in Mozambique, there are good examples in the field of sustainability, which were supported by speakers Mayra Pereira (founder of Gaia Consulting), Nuno Calha (executive director of Ernst & Young), Diogo Cunha (founder of Moz Good Trade), Taciana Peão Lopes (chairman of Mozup Enterprise Development Centre) and Mateus Tembe (operations manager of the ProAzul project). All demonstrated that the green future has indeed already begun!


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