A recent research by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) has indicated that BSE-listed companies lag behind in fully promoting and supporting achievement of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which among others call for an end to poverty by 2030.
The UN (SDG’s) or the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted in 2015 by Botswana and other UN member states and the targets include ending poverty, zero hunger, good health and well being, gender equality, clean water and sanitation and decent work and economic growth.
In their bid to determine if business practices by BSE listed entities support achievement of SDG’s in the country, BSE and UNDP conducted the research. According to the findings, a majority of companies listed on the BSE are not familiar with the targets.
“A number of companies do not have specific sustainability policies because they are still not fully conversant with the issues as well as the global agenda on the SDGs, and thus have adopted mostly isolated practices that are not entirely integrated into their business operations. The research report stated that companies which are familiar with the goals are failing to incorporate or show that in their reporting.
“Other companies, which have recognized sustainability as key to their business, have adopted some practices, but have not attained the level of reporting and accounting for sustainability.”
The research has found that there are varying perceptions of sustainability across the BSE-listed companies and in most instances, the entities associate sustainability with either environmental protection or social improvements. “There are few instances where all the three pillars of sustainability being environment, social equity and economic development are taken into consideration by the companies as reflected in the way they explained the concept.”
BSE has added that most companies do not relate their sustainability practices to their investment profile. The stock exchange indicated that companies raising capital through the BSE should proactively invest in projects that are sustainable, and for those in the financial services sector should include sustainability provisions in their financing program.
“This will ensure that the projects they finance also yield sustainable benefits, beyond the financial institution’s own sustainability practices such as water and energy conservation.” BSE has indicated that companies listed on stock exchanges raise capital which they can invest to grow their business and noted that how they invest the money should ensure sustainability and that should reflect in social, economic and environmental outcomes of the projects they invest in.
According to the BSE, the findings of the research provide a basis for the BSE and UNDP to work with companies to reach their full sustainability potential and added that the findings also show the starting point and help identify the issues to focus on in subsequent engagements with the private sector on sustainable development and the SDGs. “They will also guide the development of sustainability principles that listed companies can adopt and use to promote sustainability performance and transparency in the capital market.”
UN said this is expected to contribute to the BSE fulfilling its commitments towards Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative and the Marrakech Pledge, while also helping Botswana to implement the SDGs.
UN earlier on raised concerns that Botswana could fail to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) which relates to poverty eradication due to high income inequality which remains the highest in the world and government failure to ensure inclusive economic growth.