The Network for Business Sustainability South Africa, a joint initiative of the UCT Graduate School of Business and the Gordon Institute of Business Science, has issued a new report that identifies the top eight challenges facing South African business in 2013.
The report came out of a roundtable of leading companies and reveals that the challenge of creating and evaluating social capital is key in the South African context.
“In South Africa, business has a considerable obligation to determine the value that we create in the society in which we live. How do we account for social value, track it, and manage it. If we can agree on the measurement tools, we can start managing our progress towards it,” commented Sue Lund, General Manager for Public Policy and Sustainability at Transnet and member of the NBS:SA Leadership Council.
Representing the private, public and non-profit sectors, the roundtable includes organisations well known for their sustainability commitments, such as Woolworths, Nedbank, Sappi and Unilever.
“The business sustainability journey is challenging, especially in the context of competitive pressures, organisational inertia, and the complexity of social-ecological problems”, says Ralph Hamann, Research Director at the UCT GSB and Academic Director of NBS:SA. “There is a clear need for empirical evidence and rigorous theory to inform this debate. The knowledge priorities identified by our Leadership Council focus attention and provide a platform for improved communication between practitioners and researchers.”
NBS:SA was launched in 2013 and will convene the roundtable annually to identify key sustainability challenges facing South African companies. The Leadership Council also chooses two of these themes for dedicated attention by world-class researchers commissioned by NBS:SA.
The Top eight South African Business Sustainability Challenges as identified by the report are:
- How can business engage in long-term strategic planning that is linked to a shared vision for a sustainable future (in South Africa)?
- How can we measure and value natural and social capital?
- How can we ensure more holistic and integrated decision-making in companies?
- How can companies integrate sustainability into strategies and business models, realizing opportunities?
- How can we create sustainable supply chains in the South African context?
- How can companies engage their consumers in co-creating sustainable business agendas and solutions?
- How can businesses collaborate effectively and legitimately (also among competitors) to drive collective action for sustainability?
- How can we better integrate sustainability into professional training?