The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has opened its doors in South Africa – helping to promote sustainability reporting in the country and the region as a whole. Douglas Kativu is the Director of GRI’s South African office, based in Johannesburg. The Focal Point South Africa recognizes the important role that Africa plays globally in the mainstreaming of sustainability reporting.
The establishment of the new Focal Point has been made possible by funding provided to GRI by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). The SECO funding is part of a larger funding package for a program that GRI is implementing together with the UN Global Compact. GRI’s Focal Point South Africa will work to promote GRI’s mission locally by disseminating knowledge of sustainability reporting and the GRI Framework among companies and organizations in Southern Africa.
The Focal Point will act as a regional hub, with the main aim of facilitating and promoting the active engagement of African organizations in the development of sustainability reporting regionally and globally. Although the Focal Point will be based in South Africa, the focus of engagement and outreach will also be on the wider region. The aim is to explore possibilities for collaboration with partners in other targeted African markets, depending on the needs of stakeholders.
“The Focal Point is a welcome development,” says Kativu. “Faced with increasingly high expectations to deliver on socio-economic development, many stakeholders, including governments, are calling for inclusive business models. The GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines provide a sound resource for developing responsible and accountable leaders, in both the public and private sectors, pursuant to the goal of ensuring that resource governance and utilization delivers shared growth.
“Given the daily sustainability challenges, Africa, in particular given the reporting expertise and experience in South Africa, has a lot to share and contribute to the ongoing development of global sustainability reporting standards. For improved regional sustainability performance, it is imperative that the office expands the reporting expertise and practice beyond South Africa.”
The Focal Point will be hosted by ACCA South Africa (ACCA SA), chosen through an extensive stakeholder engagement process. ACCA SA is the self-regulating global body for accounting professionals, offering the Chartered Certified Accountant qualification. ACCA promotes transparency and best practice, and aims to help businesses and organizations realize the growing importance of sustainability.
Ms. Nadine Kater, Head of ACCA South Africa, says, “Sustainability is a key feature of ACCA South Africa’s agenda. We encourage individuals, corporations, businesses and accounting practices to support initiatives which help to create sustainable communities. This opportunity to host GRI Focal Point South Africa has made it possible for us to put into practice what we preach.”
To measure and monitor the success of GRI’s presence in South Africa, and to show how applying the GRI Framework contributes to changes in companies’ sustainability reporting and performance, GRI will conduct a baseline study from the start of January 2013 to June 2015. The research will largely be conducted through case studies. GRI is now seeking an institutional partner to help conduct these case studies from January 2013 to December 2014.