iEcoAfrica is a network of actors and entities embedding a culture of sustainability in the ecosystems around and inside organisations in Africa. Our value chain consists of sustainability communications, trade, investment and consultancy. We use varying communications medium, including Environmental, Economic, Social, Governance Reporting and Disclosure frameworks to communicate an organisations value creation. We build expertise in general management, guide practical experience and develop a network of skills and knowledge that offer the best returns to investors, customers and community stakeholders. Our Unique Selling Point is our ability to create project partners that deliver technical prowess, financing and stakeholder engagement that results in a social license to operate. Our current strategic focus is Agri-business and Renewable Energy Economies.
Africa Green Revolution Forum 2017 (AGRF)
After securing political, policy, and financial commitments of more than US $30 billion at AGRF 2016, African leaders aim to create jobs and drive economies for agriculture.
Exchanges with impact
Stock exchanges increasingly guiding markets on sustainability reporting. A stock exchange is often seen as only a market for trading stocks – a virtual point where buyer meets seller – but its role in ensuring the proper functioning of the market where it operates involves much more than providing the platform where stocks are bought and sold. Historically, stock exchanges have educated and trained both business and investors on a series of topics from listing rules and investment tools to regulation and product development.
Stock exchanges are the intersection between issuers, investors, capital market regulators, and policy makers, and as such they are constantly evaluating new demands from investors and policy makers and translating them to issuers. As the sustainability challenges facing capital markets and the corporate sector evolve, stock exchanges are adapting, and guiding both issuers and investors in this process by facilitating the information flow between them. One of those areas of guidance is sustainability reporting.
At one time, an investor’s toolbox for analysing investment opportunities contained only the company’s financial bottom line, usually reported in a quarterly manner, making capital markets inherently short-sighted and therefore misaligned with financing needs of sustainable development. But now, shareholders, fund managers and other capital market players are expanding their appraisals of a company by also evaluating its environmental and social practices.
In some markets investors are demanding new information on the sustainability activities of a company, and in others the move towards increased environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure is led by other market players. In all markets, stock exchanges have a key role to play. Led by a United Nations initiative, stock exchanges are fulfilling that role by guiding their issuers on how to disclose ESG information.
The United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative encourages stock exchanges to provide guidance to their issuers on ESG reporting and aids stock exchanges in doing so by providing a template that can be adapted to their local market, the “Model Guidance on Reporting ESG Information to Investors: A Voluntary Tool For Stock Exchanges to Guide Issuers.”
In September 2015, when the SSE launched its Model Guidance for exchanges, less than one third of stock exchanges around the world were providing guidance to issuers on reporting ESG information. As a result of the SSE Model Guidance campaign and their collaborative work with stock exchanges, the number of exchanges with sustainability reporting guidance has more than doubled (see figure 1).
The SSE is continuing its campaign and is working with its partners with the end goal of all stock exchanges providing guidance on reporting their ESG activities.
Figure 1: Number of Stock Exchanges with Guidance on ESG Disclosure
Anthony Miller is the Focal Point for Corporate Social Responsibility within the Investment and Enterprise Division of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
He has managed the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative since its launch by UN Secretary General in 2009. In 2011, the initiative was named by Forbes magazine as one of the “world’s best sustainability ideas” and by 2016 it included over 60 stock exchanges in the world representing over 70% of global listed equity markets.
Dr. Miller is a specialist on CSR, corporate governance and responsible investment, with particular emphasis on how these issues impact developing countries. He is a regular contributor to UNCTAD’s flagship World Investment Report and for over 10 years an annual guest lecturer on CSR and responsible investment at the Cambridge Centre for Development Studies. He holds an MPhil and PhD in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge.
Future Energy Nigeria
Future Energy Nigeria has evolved from the West African Power Industry Convention (WAPIC). This energy conference and expo addressing the Nigerian power crisis through industry connectivity and creative solutions. After 14 years of successfully driving new and existing industry relationships across the region, WAPIC has established its base in Nigeria to support the privatisation of the Nigerian power space. A country going through a tough economic cycle, compounded by a struggling energy sector, it is now that the platform of a meeting place to engage industry stakeholders keen to represent the sector is more important than ever.
This refreshed project will continue to drive collaboration, networking, solutions and positive results for a sector that begins to emerge from crisis. The only industry meeting point that discusses, debates and provides answers to the future development of the sector. Delivering a conference arena for consultative content, an exhibition platform for trade deals and networking for business growth. Future Energy Nigeria is the dedicated professional project that Nigeria needs to support its ascent from its current challenges.Website Register Networking
A 3-day strategic conference and a 2-day international exhibition which will support the change happening in the Nigerian power and energy sector, and showcase the latest technologies and service from over 100 companies.
Future Energy East Africa
Future Energy East Africa has evolved from the East African Power Industry Convention (EAPIC). After years of close collaboration with utilities, governments, regulators, large power users, consultants and solution providers it has become the number one power conference and exhibition in East Africa and will take place from 29 – 30 November 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. Over 45 suppliers from across the world will not only exhibit their latest technology and solutions but will be waiting to share their experience, case studies and best practices with you. There is no better place to be inspired by companies like Alstom-Grid, KPLC and Kengen, just to mention a few.
A core theme at the 2016 edition of the East African Power Industry Convention was: “What does the future hold for the East Africa Energy Market?” This stirred a necessary discussion. It was decided that East Africa not only needs to address short term goals but to aim for longevity and sustainability. However, in order to look to the future, one has to adapt to an ever changing market. A market that constantly evolving due to innovative technologies and mind-sets.
Future Energy East Africa is the largest and longest running regional power conference and exhibition in East Africa, making it a well-known and trusted brand. The event boasts both a strategic conference and a large trade exhibition which provides a platform for public and private stakeholders to engage in discussions around the future of the East African energy sector, giving stakeholders the opportunity to benchmark their operations, challenges and achievements against their peers and seek suppliers who are looking to gain access to projects across the region.
The event offers both dynamic round table discussions and dedicated technical workshops; with fringe events including investment breakfast briefings, Future Energy Leaders, CEO Forum, Women in Power luncheon, networking functions, off site visits to installations and a black tie industry awards function. Future Energy East Africa is the only event that can boast high-level delegations from ministries, utilities and regulators from across the region.Website Register Networking
The event attracts regional stakeholders from 12 countries, utilising Nairobi as an accessible hub.
UNEP FI Regional Roundtables on Sustainable Finance
UNEP FI is establishing Regional Roundtables to provide an opportunity for members and actors in the sustainable finance community to come together locally to discuss the latest trends and innovations, and share good practice. 2017 marks UNEP FI’s 25th anniversary, and in this landmark year, our first ever Regional Roundtables will be the focus of our celebrations.
September-December 2017 - Argentina, USA, Switzerland, South Africa and Japan. UNEP FI is establishing Regional Roundtables to provide an opportunity for members and actors in the sustainable finance community to come together locally to discuss the latest trends and innovations, and share good practice. Building on over two decades of successful Global Roundtables, these regional events are designed to create rich opportunities for UNEP FI members to connect with one another and to raise awareness of sustainable finance work in progress across banking, investment, and insurance. The Roudtable events will take place in Buenos Aires 5-6 September, New York 18-20 September, Geneva 16-18 October, Johannesburg 27-29 November and Tokyo 11-12 December.
Get more information on how to register for UNEP FI here
Future Energy Central Africa
Formerly iPAD Cameroon - Future Energy Africa’s goal is to become the regional platform for power and utility development, welcoming private developers, IPPs, and investors within the region, to facilitate regional grid extension, pricing and infrastructure development.
Future Energy Central Africa is a two day regional strategic conference that will allow neighbouring Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe to share their expertise, project developments and plans in order to facilitate regional grid integration. This two day conference and supplier exhibition will support the new up and coming energy sector in Central Africa.
This exclusive platform is a unique chance for delegates to identify potential business opportunities in response to an increasing power demand from the consumer and industry, enjoying rich and diversified energy resources. Alongside the conference is a CEO roundtable gathering Government officials from every member of the CEMAC region and representatives of investments and financial institutions.Website Speakers Registration
The success of iPAD Cameroon 2016 hosted by the Ministry of Water and Energy and ENEO, confirmed the urgency to create a platform to promote energy investments in Central Africa.
"Nigerian power sector knows what to do, needs to stand together and make it happen" says Future Energy Nigeria director
"I’m excited about Nigeria’s energy future, Nigeria IS the future" says a confident Ade Yesufu, who is heading up the Future Energy Nigeria initiative that is taking place in Lagos from 7-8 November.
As the Global Business Director for the upcoming Future Energy Nigeria, an event that has a solid reputation as a longstanding, high-level gathering place for the region’s power sector, Ade is currently in Nigeria to meet the country’s decision makers and pave the way for another ground-breaking power pow-wow in November.
"We have to restore investor confidence"
Ade Yesufu explains: "I don’t see the current recession as a reason to be negative or even cautious about Nigeria’s economic future. If anything, it has focused Government and industry alike to make sure we get the basics right to stimulate much-needed growth and we need a reliable and affordable power supply to do that. The Federal Government’s Nigerian Power Sector Recovery Programme is an important message to the rest of the world that Nigeria is planning significant improvements towards achieving structural economic change with a more diversified and inclusive economy. To me, this creates an important foundation to showcase the enormous business and investment opportunities that the sector provides and I cannot help but be very excited about that."
He adds: "we all know that there is a lot of work to do, we have to restore investor confidence, but we are ready to get everyone together and to make sure we showcase the myriad of opportunities in the sector; from gas to renewables, from generation to distribution and from actual building projects to providing specialised services. The power sector knows what to do, needs to stand together and make it happen. Nigeria is ready!"
New brand – same, innovative event
Formerly known as the West African Power Industry Convention or WAPIC, which was a firm, favourite fixture on the region’s power calendar for the last 13 years, Future Energy Nigeria, with the support of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Transmission Company of Nigeria, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, Distribution Companies and prominent Generation companies, will once again host many of the country’s leading energy decision makers from 7-8 November 2017 at the Eko Hotel & Suite Convention Centre in Lagos, Nigeria.
The rebranded Future Energy Nigeria will focus on the bold turnaround plan of the Nigerian government, known as the Power Sector Recovery Program, which is aimed at restoring investor confidence in the sector following reported problems in the country’s electricity market. U$D7.6-billion has been earmarked for this recovery process that the government developed in partnership with the World Bank.
The event is recognised as being a distinctive gathering of stakeholders within the power value chain which includes governments, power generation companies, transmission and distribution companies, off takers, developers, investors, equipment manufacturers and providers, technology providers, EPCs, legal and consulting firms all with a shared goal of supporting the on-going implementation of finding lasting solutions to Nigeria’s energy challenges. Co-located to the event is the Oil & Gas Council’s Nigeria Assembly.
Some confirmed conference speaker highlights:
- Lazarus Angbazo, CEO, Energy Connections Business, GE: Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria
- Hon. (Princess) Gloria Akobundu, CEO and National Coordinator, NEPAD, Nigeria
- Onyeche Tifashe, CEO, Siemens, Nigeria
- Akinwole Omoboriowo, CEO, Genesis Energy, Nigeria
- Patrick O. Okigbo III, Principal Partner, Nextier, Nigeria
- Sunkanmi Olowo, Head SME Banking, Ecobank, Nigeria
- Bart Nnaji, CEO, Geometric Power, Nigeria
- Joy Ogaji, Executive Secretary, Association of Power Generation Companies, Nigeria
- Joel Abrams, Managing Director, Nigeria Solar Capital Partners, Nigeria
- Olumide Noah Obademi, CEO, Afam Power PLC, Nigeria
- Nicholas Okafor, Partner, Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie, Nigeria
- Olubunmi Peters, Executive Vice Chairman, North South Power Shiroro, Nigeria
- Segun Adaju, President, Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria, Nigeria
- Engr. Faruk Yabo, Director Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency, FMoPWH
The 14th edition of the event once again enjoys widespread support from the industry with Lucy Electric, a global secondary distribution leader in the electricity sector, and SkipperSeil Limited already confirmed as platinum sponsors, while Genesis and Jubaili Bros are gold sponsors and Conlog, Landis+Gyr, Hexing and Vodacom are silver sponsors.
Future Energy Nigeria is organised by Spintelligent, a multi-award-winning Cape Town-based exhibition and conference producer across the continent in the infrastructure, real estate, energy, mining, agriculture and education sectors. Other well-known events by Spintelligent include African Utility Week, Future Energy East Africa (formerly EAPIC), Future Energy Central Africa (formerly iPAD Cameroon), Future Energy Uganda, Agritech Expo Zambia, Kenya Mining Forum, Nigeria Mining Week and DRC Mining Week. Spintelligent is part of the UK-based Clarion Events Group.
Future Energy Nigeria dates and location:
Strategic conference: 7-8 November 2017
Venue: Eko Hotel & Suite Convention Centre, Lagos, Nigeria.
EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: The Secret Life of Green Finance
Simon Zadek is writing in his personal capacity, and currently serves as the senior advisor on finance in Executive Office of the Secretary General, is co-Director of the UN Environment’s Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System, and is Visiting Professor at the Singapore Management University.
Green finance’s meteoric rise has been a remarkable feature of the contemporary global financial landscape. From London to Nairobi, and Sao Paulo to Singapore, green finance has become the currency of high profile advocacy, policy and regulatory developments and increasingly market practice.
The G20’s embrace of green finance as a legitimate topic for finance ministers and central bank governors has catalysed action across the world, from the green finance work being led by the Reserve Bank of India to the European Commission’s High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance. The G7 has highlighted the growing focus of the world’s major financial centres on green finance as a basis for product innovation and competitiveness, such as the City of London’s Green Finance Initiative. And the darling of green finance, green bonds, has seen a ten fold increase in annual issuance over the last five years.
The logic of green finance’s rise is undeniable. Environmental challenges have impacted markets and returns, through droughts and other natural disasters, volatility in food and other commodity prices, and growing liability risks as the more stringent enforcement of environmental and climate-related regulations become a global norm. Climate change necessitates accelerated action by the world’s largest emitters, both to keep global temperature rises below 2 degrees, and to more effectively manage investor risks.
Beyond downside risks, environmental stewardship and resilience has become a source of value. Renewables have transitioned from a side-show to the main game across global energy markets, stranding along the way carbon intensive assets. Electric vehicle and battery technology threatens to overturn the all-powerful auto industry and reward investors who have backed businesses at the nexus of environmental concerns, policy responses, and breakthrough technologies.
Financial regulators have woken up to systemic risks in such a transition, especially those linked to climate, requiring the financial community to demonstrate their will and capability to manage this new generation of risks and report accordingly.
History’s impeccable logic alone, however, rarely guarantees the right response. People make a difference, and the secret life of green finance is a disparate band of people who have made it their mission to green the global financial system. Dr Rahman, for example, placed Bangladesh on the global map by championing the development role of central banks in advancing financial inclusion and green finance.
Dr Ndung’u, likewise, as Kenya’s central bank governor, was a key player in turning Kenya into a global leader in digital finance, which now underpins the country’s growing eco-system of green financing innovations connecting mobile payment platforms, distributed solar and now also crowd-sourcing, block chain and crypto-currencies. Muliaman Hadad, until recently Commissioner of the Indonesian Financial Regulatory Authority, has championed what was arguably the world’s first ‘sustainable finance roadmap’. And in Brazil, Murilo Portugal, president of the powerful bankers association, Febraban, has championed the greening of the country’s banking community.
Further north, Mark Carney, Bank of England’s charismatic governor, delivered a world first in championing a prudential review of climate risks to the UK’s all-important insurance sector, and then in his role as Chair of the Financial Stability Board established the Task Force on Climate Related Risk Disclosure. Meanwhile, in another part of London, Mark Campanale led the charge with the Climate Tracker Initiative in effectively inventing and then globalising the narrative about climate-related stranded assets, just as ‘down-under’ Sean Kidney has worked tirelessly to advance the cause of green bonds around the world.
Across the English Channel, the Dutch pensions regulator, Frank Elderson, along with researcher and civil society activist Rens Tilburg, mobilised the country’s pension industry alongside its banks and insurance sector in advancing a national sustainable finance dialogue and strategy. And across the pond, it would be wrong to ignore the contributions made by such luminaries as Mary Shapiro 29th Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Mindy Lubbers as inveterate green investor campaigner, and Al Gore in his role as co-founder and Chair of the sustainability-minded Generation Investment Management, along with co-founder David Blood.
Yet it has been in China that the most ambitious game plan has been hatched and progressed to green the country’s rapidly developing financial system. Early leadership came in the form of Yi Yanfei, a modest champion buried deep in the China Banking Regulatory Commission, in advancing the Green Credit Guidelines, encouraged and ably supported by Rachel Kyte’s team when she was at the World Bank. More recently, however, leadership has come from Dr Ma, without doubt one of the world’s more unusual central bank chief economists.
Catalysed into action by China’s destructive air pollution, Ma Jun advanced first an ambitious domestic green finance initiative, working with a UN-based initiative launched by Achim Steiner, then head of the UN Environment Program, making full use of the central bank’s convening and signalling power. Then at the IMF Annual Meetings in Lima in 2015, his boss, Deputy Governor Yi Gang, announced that China would take the topic of green finance to the G20 under its Presidency in 2016, a move that has catalysed action on green finance across the G20 and elsewhere.
Leadership counts, all the more so when the need for transition is so urgent, and the scale of change required is so great. Dragging a reluctant mainstream into the future, requires the kind of inspiration and persistence that is too often absent from either corporate or public technocrats. Such leadership is, however, more of a relay race than a marathon.
The success of today’s leaders depends on the unsung efforts of their predecessors, just as tomorrow’s efforts will be taken forward by others. More recently, for example, key leadership has come from that most unlikely source, central banks and financial regulators, reflecting their broader rise to power over the last decade. Going forward, other sources of leadership are likely to become more important, such as the world of digital finance and its intersection with big data, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.
This article first appeared in Thomas Reuters
Exchanges Play a Crucial Role in Developing the Sustainable Finance Market
Stock exchanges play a crucial role as an intermediary between investors and issuers, but their role in the sustainable finance market – as platform and infrastructure providers, as facilitators of cross-market standards development, and as educators bringing visibility to new asset classes – is so much wider than that. We speak with Robert Scharfe, CEO of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, a leader in sustainable finance with over half of the world’s green bonds listed on its exchange, on how to attract more investors and borrowers to the market.
Q. We have seen an impressive EM rally this year, and some of that has to do with China’s better-than-expected performance. How would you assess the outlook for China and emerging markets for the next 12 months? Where do you see the main risks and best prospects?
A. China, as one of the largest economies in the world, is of course very influential in determining how the rest of the world economy performs. The most recent news – that China’s economy has grown more quickly than anticipated, 6.9% in Q1 2017, reaching an estimated annual growth of 6.4% – is significant. Coupled with improving activity and job growth in the US and Europe, this is good news for emerging markets. Globally, one could say the outlook is cautiously positive.
There are of course a number of caveats and key factors to consider here. China needs to ensure that growing at the current rate is not harmful to the economy itself in broad societal terms, which is part of the reason why sustainability – and the sustainable finance market – has become so immensely important there.
In terms of risks, we still see quantitative easing affecting market prices, and it is likely we will see this come back to the fore as the world’s central banks look to unwind or reverse their asset purchases. Uncertainties around the US Administration, and a possible rise in protectionism around US imports, could also have a significant influence on global markets.
Overall, the global picture is cautiously positive, but we need to manage potential interest rate hikes and the unwinding of major QE programmes around the world to ensure distortions can be minimized.
Q. The first ever green bond, the "Climate Awareness Bond" was listed in Luxembourg in 2007. How has green financing evolved since then? What has the Exchange done to promote and develop these kinds of instruments?
A. The European Investment Bank took a lead in this space with the first Climate Awareness Bond, but the timing was somewhat unfortunate to an extent because the global financial crisis that emerged in 2007 and 2008 largely put a halt to the development of the green bond market. Governments were too busy saving the world economy from collapsing, quite frankly. That said, it became clear by the Paris climate talks in 2015 that the sustainable finance agenda needed to move forward, and public consensus around the importance of sustainability as a broad concept – in energy, finance, and general corporate ethos – was gaining momentum. At the same time, investors globally, for a variety of reasons, are increasingly looking for more transparency in how their money was being used by recipients.
Now, I get the sense we are in the midst of a protracted education process across the market: investors want to invest in initiatives that have a strong ESG angle, but want to be sure that they can still generate adequate returns; corporate and public-sector entities want to access new pools of liquidity, but want to ensure they can generate both internal and external benefits.
Government-backed banks and multilateral development banks have played a leading role in the development of this market, but we need the private sector to enter the picture – not just energy companies, but any entity willing to take a fresh look at their supply chain and make changes to address their carbon footprint through targeted investments. The onus is also on investors. Investors have enormous purchasing power here, given the sheer amount of institutional money they manage, and they are in a sense the guarantor that capital simply won’t be available to just any issuer or borrower unconditionally. That’s what will push this market forward.
Q. The Luxemburg Stock Exchange has signed an agreement to launch a green bond index with the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and Shanghai Stock Exchange, which simultaneously displays green bond quotes in China and Europe. What is the primary purpose of this programme and how can it be replicated in other geographies?
A. When this market started 10 years ago with the first Climate Awareness Bond and eventually, the first green bond, nobody was paying much attention to it. It was only following the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement – COP21 – that we found an agreement that could supplant previous pacts, like the Kyoto Protocol or the Copenhagen agreement, and facilitate the growth of the market. Since 2015, the growth has been exponential, despite the fact that the size of the market is still relatively small – less than 1% of the global debt market.
Within that context, we decided to launch the world’s first dedicated green exchange, a platform for green bonds that has since expanded to social and sustainable bonds, and is open to a range of instruments and indexes. Looking at the overall market, we cover more than 50% of global listed green bonds. There are also large domestic markets, like China – by far the largest local currency green bond market globally – that are strategically important to partner with in order to heighten the visibility of these assets. Both the Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges have indexes that represent the performance of labelled and unlabelled green securities in China. The objective is to open this market further to foreign investors, and in order to do that you need to promote these indexes domestically within Shanghai and Shenzhen, and abroad, which is what drove our partnership with both of these exchanges. The market can use these indexes to set up dedicated investment products, like ETFs, or, through the new Bond Connect programme, make Chinese local currency green bonds available to foreign investors. What we are doing here is bridging the gap between the local green bond market and international investors, and helping to make it more accessible to investors. Partnerships like these are especially important in an environment where the US is retrenching from its climate change mitigation commitments, and creates added scope for Europe and China to work more closely together to move down the path decided at COP21.
Q. How has LGX helped to expand the universe of sustainable finance?
A. Exchanges in many ways offer the critical infrastructure, indeed a meeting platform for investors and issuers, and we need to make sure that we create a level of transparency that makes both sides comfortable. This means that both need to be able to access the full stock of information available in order to make informed decisions. That’s where stock exchanges have a tremendous role to play.
The second role is heavy linked to education. We can inform the market about standards in a way that helps issuers and investors understand this segment; we can show the nuances between issuers of different origin by making data available to the market; and we can bring visibility to new and exciting sustainability instruments. How do we create leverage in all of that? One initiative, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative - a United Nations initiative which works with over 65 exchanges worldwide - is working to develop guidance to listed companies around the world in order to promote sustainability in terms of environmental, social and corporate governance transparency. Exchanging best practices is extremely helpful in order to accelerate this movement, and very important for the creation of common standards – around reporting the impact of investments – in sustainable finance. These standards are what will enable investors to compare these investments in a common framework, and as such are of supreme importance. If we achieve this kind of alignment across the sector globally, investors can effectively choose what to invest into.
Q. Regulations play an important role in stimulating the market, by helping to support the creation of standards as well as incentivise the market. What are the major challenges from the regulatory perspective when dealing with green bonds?
A. If you look at the European or international regulatory landscape, most of this has evolved on the basis of standards that have been developed by the industry – like the Green Bond Principles, for instance. Industry self-regulation, so far, has worked tremendously well. We consider frameworks like the Green Bond Principles and the Climate Bonds Standard, developed by the Climate Bonds Initiative, as best practice in the market. In order to list or display bonds on our Exchange, bonds have to fit any of these frameworks – which means mandatory certification and reporting. In other words, we have become stricter than what the market is typically looking for, to the benefit of investors – who secure a second opinion and impact report – and issuers – which gain access to a wider pool of liquidity.
However, regulators can still play a role in helping to develop and shape these standards. If we want to see the market grow faster and further, we need a more robust framework going forward, which can mean creating standard definitions and terms of reference, as well as standard obligations related to publishing certain documents on a mandatory basis. Consider, for instance, Article 173 of France’s Climate Transition Law, which obliges institutional investors to display the carbon footprint of their investment portfolio. In this instance, regulators aren’t posing restrictions on the market – but by displaying this you create awareness and give investors important information to help facilitate the market. China’s regulators have also been very forward-thinking in this space; they have asked every issuer to display how proceeds are used to finance green initiatives within prospectus’ of conventional bonds as well as green bonds, which is a significant step forward. In this respect, China is leading the pack.
Regulators should also consider incentives to help boost the market. In any event, it’s less a question of using regulation to impose more work on issuers, but about the broader question on how one frames this market to entice both issuers and investors of moving in the same direction – and faster.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bonds & Loans is a trusted provider of news, analysis, and commentary that helps illuminate the most significant issues, events and trends impacting the global emerging credit markets.
Future Energy Uganda
Future Energy Uganda is a two day Ugandan project investment forum and exhibition that brings projects being explored and projects in the pipeline to light. The forum discussions include policies, tax and rebates, project briefings, ROI’s, and project implementation. This provides a unique platform for investors, government and the private sector to discuss and network in support of the Ugandan power expansion plans and 2030 vision.
About the Event Speakers Registration
Future Energy Uganda will provide a meeting platform for project developers, finance houses and multilateral investors, construction and planning companies as well as technology providers from Uganda, the region and from the rest of the world. The event will demonstrate the proactive nature of Uganda to develop the sector efficiently and effectively.
Uganda and Ethiopia big winners at East African Power Industry Awards in Nairobi this week
Uganda scored a double victory at the East African Power Industry Awards with the country not only winning the Special Recognition Award for outstanding leadership in the sector, but also scooping up the Award for Excellence in Power Transmission or Distribution for the second year in a row. Taking place during the East African Power Industry Convention (EAPIC) in Nairobi this week, the East African Power Industry Awardsgathered some 180 power professionals from the region at a glamorous gala dinner on Wednesday and recognised individuals, companies and projects based on the excellent work they have been doing in the power sector during 2015/2016.
Uganda’s Fred Kabagambe-Kaliisa, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy & Mineral Development of Uganda was honoured for his work in the utility sector with the Special Recognition Award. Umeme Limited, Uganda’s main electricity distribution company, won theExcellence in Power Transmission or Distribution Award. Uganda also had a strong presence atEAPIC in Nairobi this week with the Hon Eng Simon D’Ujanga, the Minister of State for Energy, heading up the delegation.
Ethiopia also won two categories at the awards.
The winners of the East African Power Industry Awards 2016 are:::::
Special Recognition Award
WINNER: Fred Kabagambe-Kaliisa, Permanent Secretary, Uganda Ministry of Energy & Mineral Development, Uganda
Dr Kabagambe-Kallisa was unable to accept his award in person, but sent his son, Henry Kaliisa, to deliver his acceptance speech on his behalf. He paid special tribute to his colleagues in the Ugandan energy sector, private sector players as well as international development partners: “With my colleagues in Uganda’s energy sector, with whom I have worked with for the last 20 years as the Permanent Secretary, to design and implement policies and laws which have created a conducive environment for private sector participation and investment in Uganda’s power industry.”
Dr Fred Kabagambe-Kaliisa is the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development in the Government of Uganda. He has been Permanent Secretary since 1997 and has worked for the Government of Uganda for over 38 years. Dr Kabagambe-Kaliisa has played a central role in the reform of Uganda’s electricity industry focusing on industry regulation and private sector participation.
The team he led has since 2007 repackaged the development of Bujagali Hydropower project (250MW) which reached commercial operation in 2012, the development of several renewable energy generation projects, and other important public-private partnerships in power distribution, rural electrification and renewable energy development.
These efforts have resulted into Foreign Direct Investment of US$1.50 billion over the last seven years in the power sector in Uganda and stabilisation of power supply in the country.
- Ben K Chumo, Managing Director and CEO, Kenya Power and Lighting Company Limited, Kenya
- Grania Rosette Rubomboras, Programme Officer: Power Projects, Nile Basin Initiative NELSAP/ Regional Interconnection Project, Rwanda, Citizen: Uganda
- Irene Margaret Nafuna-Muloni, Minister, Ministry of Energy & Mineral Development, Uganda
- Kevin K. Kariuki, Head of Infrastructure, Industrial Promotion Services, Kenya
- Ralph Nyakabwa-Atwoki, Technical Director, Sustnersol Uganda Limited, Uganda
Award for Excellence in Power Transmission or Distribution
WINNER: Umeme, Uganda
“It is a privilege for Umeme to win this award for the second time in a row. It is also a privilege to be recognised for the efforts put in and efficiencies we have achieved in the Ugandan distribution sector. It is wonderful that EAPIC is coming to Uganda next year and we look forward to sharing more of the progress we have made in Uganda with our peers from the region”, Mr Sam Zimbe, Deputy Managing Director of Umeme, said on Wednesday evening after receiving the award on behalf of the utility.
Caption (from left to right):
Simbiso Chimbima, Chief Technical Officer, Umeme ;
Sam Zimbe, Deputy Managing Director, Umeme ;
Jacqueline Waithaka-Mungai, Head Corporate Banking, Co-Operative Bank - category Sponsors
Sylver Hategekimana, Network Asset Performance Manager, Umeme
Umeme Limited is Uganda’s main electricity distribution company. In 2015, Umeme’s income grew by 19% to Ushs 1.16 trillion compared to 2014, underpinned by 8% growth in sales units. The commencement of construction works for Isimba (183MW) and Karuma (600MW) hydropower projects affirms the government’s commitment to the energy sector and increasing access to electricity across Uganda.
On completion of these projects, among others, over the next 5-6 years, the country’s effective generation capacity shall be in excess of 1,600MW. Umeme plans to make significant investments to grow and ready the distribution infrastructure for the new generation capacity.
- Azuri Technologies, Kenya
- Ethiopian Electric Power, Ethiopia
- Kenya Power and Lighting Company Limited, Kenya
- KETRACO, Kenya
- TANESCO, Tanzania
Award for Outstanding Clean Power Project (under 5MW)
WINNER: Mobisol – East Africa
“We are very happy, proud and feel very overwhelmed; this was a surprise as we did not expect to win. Mobisol is growing very fast and so far we have electrified over 60,000 households in East Africa” said Klaus Maier, Mobisol Corporate Development Manager andHelen Tiemann, Mobisol, Partnerships and Expansion Manager, after receiving the award.
Mobisol has developed an innovative product design and service offering fully adjusted to off grid customers’ needs: The mature product-service offer combines high quality solar products, innovative IT solutions and remote monitoring, microfinance via mobile banking and comprehensive customer services. Mobisol’s products are made affordable by a rent-to-own instalment scheme offering micro-finance loans over a period of 36 months in small, flexible instalments which are payable via Mobile Money.
- M-KOPA Solar, East Africa
- Solar Africa, Kenya
- Solar Century, Kenya
Community Development Programme of the Year Award
WINNER: Africa Biogas Partnership Programme (ABPP)
“For most of development programs, the impact in terms of improvement of the living standards of women and the rural households is only perceived many years after the programme has been closed. With the ABPP, this impact is immediate, the moment the woman lights her biogas stove, she cooks in a clean and safe environment! Few months later, thanks to the use of bioslurry, the household significantly increase its agricultural production as well”said Jean Marc Sika, ABPP’s Renewable Energy Programme Development Manager in East Africa who along with Bert van Nieuwenhuizen, ABPP’s Chief Technical Advisor, accepted the award.
The Africa Biogas Partnership Programme (ABPP) is a partnership between the Dutch government, Hivos and SNV in support of national biogas programmes in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Burkina Faso. This partnership is geared towards constructing 100,000 biogas plants that will enable half a million people to access a sustainable source of energy by 2017. Already in its second phase, the programme has established a viable market for domestic biogas through effective credit schemes and cost reduction. Successes include 60,000 biogas plants built, 300,000 people with access to renewable energy, improved living standards of175,000 people, contributes to reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
- Eco-Fuel Africa Limited, Uganda
- CEFA, Tanzania
- MAA Briquettes, Kenya
- Iten Jula Kali, Kenya
- Magiro Hydroelectric, Kenya
- PAK Briquettes, Kenya
Award for Excellence in Power Generation
WINNER: Ethiopian Electric Power, Ethiopia
Ethiopia strives to be the hub of renewably sourced energy in the region and beyond. Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) is instrumental to this ambitious plan. EEP operates and maintains more than 12 hydropower and three wind power plants distributed in different parts of the country with installed capacity of more than 4290MW.
There are two major hydropower projects under construction, namely the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (6000MW) and GenaleDawa 3 (254MW). EEP has a portfolio management unit with a track record in managing and administrating more than seven mega generation and transmission projects at a time in the last 10 years.
- Contour Global, Rwanda
- Eskom Uganda Limited, Uganda
- Geothermal Development Company, Kenya
- KenGen, Kenya
- Songas Limited, Tanzania
Outstanding Woman in Power – Regional Award, East Africa
WINNER: Azeb Asnake, CEO, Ethiopian Electric Power, Ethiopia
Azeb Asnake was appointed CEO of the Ethiopian Electric Power Company after the former Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation split into two entities in 2013. Azeb commenced her carrier at the Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority from junior expert to the Directorate of Engineering Directorate. She was transferred to the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation in 2006, to lead the Gibe III Hydro Power Project, which is expected to generate 1875 MW’s of electricity. Azeb is the first woman engineer who had led the project at the capacity of a Project Manager. She is well known for her management skills and has also served as a focal person of UN Habitat Water for Africa Cities Program.
- Catherine Adeya-Weya, Senior Representative East Africa, Fieldstone Africa, Kenya
- Faith Wandera-Odongo, Deputy Director: Renewable Energy, Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, Kenya
- Grania Rosette Rubomboras, Programme Officer: Power Projects, Nile Basin Initiative NELSAP/ Regional Interconnection Project, Rwanda, Citizen: Uganda
- Irene Margaret Nafuna-Muloni, Minister, Ministry of Energy & Mineral Development, Uganda
- Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, Kenya
- Therese Sekamana, Founder and Managing Director, LED Solutions & Green Energy Rwanda Ltd, Rwanda
- Thozama Gangi, CEO, Eskom Uganda, Uganda
Future Energy Leader Award
WINNER: Faith Chege, Chief Financial Officer, Barefoot Power Africa Ltd, Kenya
After accepting the award Faith said: “this award is validating both as a young professional and a young woman in the energy sector. It's proof that the hard work and continuous strive to be a part of the solution in eradicating energy poverty has not gone unnoticed. I'm currently working on a pay-it-forward project for my upcoming 30th birthday where I will be installing 30 solar home systems for 30 households in rural Kenya. This will give 150 people access to clean energy and encourage my fellow young folk to be part of the solution.”
Faith Chege is the CFO at Barefoot Power Africa; with over five years’ experience in finance from the non-profit and for-profit private sectors. She is also a Mandela Washington Fellow 2015 and a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum and Global Entrepreneurship Delegate in 2016. From the for-profit private sector, she brings expertise in lean financial systems minimizing costs while maintaining maximum productivity, management of public private partnerships, project financing, overseeing financial audits, cash flow planning and management, keeping healthy accounts payable and accounts receivable ratios, and managing financial operations of business units in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana and Ethiopia.
- Andrew Lamosi, Managing Director, Chevron Africa Ltd, Kenya
- Charity Wanjikyu, COO, Strauss Energy, Kenya
- Erica Mackey, Co-Founder & COO, Offgrid, Tanzania
- Hasnaine Mohamed Yavarhoussen, Chief Executive Officer, Groupe Filatex, Madagascar
- Sanga Moses, CEO, Eco-Fuel Africa Limited, Uganda
- Tina Nduta, Founder/Managing Director, Eimara Africa Resources (Parent Company), East Africa Extractives Networks, Kenya
Industry support for awards
The East African Power Industry Awards have become a popular gathering for the who’s who in the region’s energy sector. Co-Operative Bank and Rosatom were awards sponsors while the results are verified by Mazars.
Regional power gathering
The 18th edition of EAPIC is expected to gather more than 2000 visitors from more than 30 countries, including from the region’s leading power utilities, large industries, project developers and investors as well as dozens of technology and service providers who will showcase their products at the KICC in Nairobi from 21-22 September. Lucy Electric, a global secondary distribution leader in the electricity sector, is this year’s platinum sponsor, while Stanbic Bank is the gold sponsor.
The event is organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK. Other flagship events in Spintelligent’s power portfolio on the continent are African Utility Week, the West African Power Industry Convention (WAPIC), iPAD Rwanda Energy Infrastructure Forum and iPAD Cameroon Energy & Infrastructure Forum.
EAPIC dates and location:
Conference and exhibition: 21-22 September 2016
Site visits: 23 September 2016
Event location: KICC, Nairobi, Kenya
LinkedIN: East African Power Forum – EAPIC
Husbands' return migration and wives' occupational choices
Exploiting the documented effect of migration on occupational choice upon return to their origin country with data from Egypt, we establish a link between return migration of men and their wives' time use through within-couple occupational interdependence. Seemingly Unrelated Regression model estimates suggest that being married to a migrant who opted for self-employment upon return decreases a woman's likelihood to engage in paid work, and increases her likelihood to engage in family work and subsistence farming, at both the extensive and intensive margins. This is pronounced for rural families, and when husbands work in agriculture. Results differ by education level, illiterate wives engaging significantly more in paid as well as unpaid work compared to more educated women. Findings are consistent with theoretical models of occupational interdependence between spouses and assortative mating; they highlight the need to buffer potentially depriving migration-induced effects on women's time use, even once migration is complete.
Keywords: International migration, Return migration, Gender, Time use, Entrepreneurship, North Africa, Egypt
The global HIV/AIDS epidemic - progress and challenges
On July 20, UNAIDS released their annual report on the status of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, which also includes a comprehensive analysis of progress towards ending AIDS as a public health threat. The latest epidemiological estimates and programmatic data from 168 countries in all regions were reviewed. Worldwide, AIDS-related deaths have declined from a peak of about 1·9 million in 2005 to around 1·0 million in 2016, largely due to treatment scale-up—for the first time more than half of people with HIV are estimated to be on treatment. Since 2010, the annual number of new infections in all age groups has decreased by 16% to around 1·8 million in 2016. However, progress is variable, and despite a global downward trend in the epidemic, several regions are experiencing sharp increases in new infections and struggling to expand treatment.
In 2014, to accelerate progress towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, UNAIDS launched the 90-90-90 goals. The goals are that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 90% of people receiving ART will achieve viral suppression. The report states that considerable progress has been made towards the 90-90-90 targets, but there are gaps along the continuum that vary across regions. Globally, more than two-thirds of people living with HIV knew their status in 2016. Around 77% of them were on treatment, and 82% of those on treatment had suppressed viral loads. In 2016, around 19·5 million people with HIV (53%) were on treatment, up from 17·1 million in 2015.
If reached, the 90-90-90 targets translate into 73% of all people living with HIV being virally suppressed. Botswana, Cambodia, Denmark, Iceland, Singapore, Sweden, and the UK already achieve or exceed this target, and 11 other countries are moving closer. However, the report notes that globally when the gaps along the cascade are combined, only 43% of all people living with HIV were virally suppressed in 2016, which is far lower than the final target, which means many regions are not on track to meet the 2020 target.
Progress in the world's most affected areas, eastern and southern Africa, has been striking. With rapid scaling up of treatment in combination with existing prevention interventions, AIDS-related deaths have nearly halved in the past 6 years. New infections have declined from around 1·1 million to about 790 000, a 29% reduction. The region's progress across the three 90s is comparable with that in Latin America, and if progress is sustained both are likely to achieve the targets alongside western and central Europe and North America, which have already met the 2020 goal.
Progress is less positive elsewhere. In the Middle East and north Africa, trends vary, and although numbers of new infections seem stable since 2010, AIDS-related mortality has increased in the past decade. In the same period in eastern Europe and central Asia, the number of new infections has risen to 190 000 in 2016, a 60% increase. The region's HIV epidemic is mainly within two countries: Russia and Ukraine. People who inject drugs accounted for 42% of new HIV infections in the region in 2015. In both countries, there are large gaps across the 90-90-90 continuum. HIV testing and treatment coverage are low. Key populations in these regions are unable to access services and linkage to care is weak. These regions are unlikely to meet the 90-90-90 target.
The report points out challenges across all regions. Late diagnosis in key populations counteracts the potential effects of treatment as prevention in the general population. Gaps in the 90–90–90 continuum are greater for men, young people, and key populations. Women continue to be disproportionately affected by the epidemic. Criminalisation, stigma, and discrimination act as barriers to key populations entering care programmes. Funding too is a concern with resources falling short of global commitments.
The report emphasises that there is no room for complacency. Indeed, 53% of all people living with HIV being on ART means that another 17 million people with HIV are not. Indeed, in a letter in this week's Lancet, Brian Williams and Reuben Granich call for an urgent review of the assumptions used to calculate the effect of ART on rates of new infections and AIDS-related mortality. Current approaches need to be more efficient, and innovations around diagnosis, treatment, service delivery, and surveillance and monitoring need to be brought to bear.
The UNAIDS annual report is a vital benchmark for identifying progress, successes, shortfalls, and gaps in tackling the global HIV epidemic. The use of the 90-90-90 goals provides a useful framework that can help countries prioritise their paths and actions toward an AIDS-free world. But what actions will now follow?
An exploratory analysis of measures to make trade facilitation work for inclusive regional agro-food value chains in West Africa
Authors: Torres, C., Seters, J. van, Karaki, K., Kpadonou, R. 2017. An exploratory analysis of measures to make trade facilitation work for inclusive regional agro-food value chains in West Africa. (Discussion Paper 214). Maastricht: ECDPM.
Spurred by growing populations, increasing purchasing power and rapid urbanisation, demand for food in West Africa is growing rapidly, and the composition of this demand is changing. West Africa is increasingly importing food from outside the region, as the region faces a huge challenge in attempting to meet food demand through regional production and trade. Intra-regional food trade is mainly informal and generally considered to be well below its potential. In this context, the region and its member states seek to support the development of regional agro-food value chains and to improve the functioning of the regional market. This transpires from policy frameworks such as the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP), the UEMOA Agricultural Policy (PAU) and the West African Common Industrial Policy (WACIP).
This study seeks to contribute to reflections and actions in this area, by looking at how corridor initiatives focused on trade facilitation could be made more ‘transformative’ by combining them with other developmental measures, in this paper referred to as “accompanying measures”. It focuses on the examples of the rice and livestock (cattle and small ruminants) value chains and takes political economy dimensions into account. Geographically, the study focuses on a particular subregion within West Africa, comprising the “Central Basin” and Senegal and Nigeria.
- In West Africa, better performing regional agro-food value chains are seen as crucial for meeting growing demand for food and for contributing to inclusive economic growth, employment creation, poverty reduction and enhanced food and nutrition security.
- Promoting regional agro-food value chains, however, requires coordination between different policy areas, not least between agriculture, trade, private sector development and infrastructure development.
- Corridor initiatives, which are crucial for connecting Sahelian countries to global markets, could be more ‘transformative’ and supportive of regional agro-food value chains if they combined trade facilitation and infrastructure development with ‘accompanying measures’.
- For example, West Africa’s rice and livestock value chains would benefit from measures to ensure: better road linkages to production areas; a strategic knowledge and communication agenda; effective public-private cooperation; and a more conducive trade policy environment.
Automation and Inequality: The Changing World of Work in the Global South
Automation and inequality: the changing world of work in the global South
Book/Report, 36 pages
Governments and businesses in the developing world can help protect people's jobs and livelihoods from the damaging effects of automation and rapid technological change. This can be done by refocusing their economic and social policies to make them more sustainable and fair.
This paper examines the relationship between rapid technological change, inequality and sustainable development. Existing research shows that in other sectors, agricultural smallholders may lose out under increasingly automated agribusiness as distribution systems are changed. Digital technology will mostly benefit skilled workers at the expense of those less skilled.
But growing inequality is not inevitable. Governments in the developing world need to introduce reforms early on that will shift their economies' focus. By moving the dependence on manufacturing before these jobs are replaced and preparing for the changes that automation and other technological developments will bring, governments can help protect men and women's livelihoods.
Smart industrialisation through trade in the context of Africa's transformation
Africa's experience of industrialisation has been disappointing. Globally, the share of manufacturing in total output rises with per capita income until countries reach upper-middle-income status, then declines as services become more prevalent at higher incomes; however, this has not been the case in Africa. Fresh thinking is needed on how to achieve Africa’s industrialisation objectives, and trade has a key role to play.
This brief, produced in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, explores how the idea of using trade and trade policy to support industrialisation has experienced a recent resurgence, and provides a set of policy recommendations for African economies looking to industrialise smartly through trade.
From Boardrooms to Battlefields
Picture Credit: "The United Nations Global Compact Delegation to the 2010 Leaders Summit" by Juley Baker. CC BY-SA 4.0, accessed via Wikimedia Commons.
Long thought to be a rarefied calling for diplomats or dedicated activists, global peacebuilders are being pushed to accept a new player into their ranks: international business. Attempting to shed their post-Cold War reputations as conflict profiteers, transnational firms today from Shell and Starbucks to Chevron and Heineken are undertaking peacebuilding ventures within some of the most fragile, impoverished, and conflict-affected regions of the world. Governments, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) like the United Nations and the World Bank, and even some international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) have all started to bring businesses aboard in public-private partnerships that try to stimulate peaceful development through poverty reduction, socio-economic growth, and inclusive negotiation.
Moreover, with IGOs like the United Nations increasingly unable to address the proliferating number of conflicts across the globe, businesses are even asked to contribute to peace amid the belief that their help is not only mutually adventageous but, in fact, necessary. The UN Global Compact (UNGC) has ramped up its engagements with their 8,000-strong network of businesses that have subscribed to their sustainability principles, launching a Business for Peace platform to mobilize corporate leadership and encourage direct private sector peace action. The United Nations has also included business stakeholders in their new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Goal 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. And many in the private sector are thrilled, as once-wary INGOs tell them that what they already do anyway—helping to increase GDPs and expand markets—can now be presented as key and lasting ingredients to peace.
Peace rhetoric is also growing within firms themselves, in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities and attempts to implement conflict-sensitive business practices. A host of stakeholders are driving the push: shareholders who want more responsible firms, the international community of governments, IGOs and INGOs who see businesses as essential peace participants, and local governments and communities who want firms to contribute more to societal improvements through everything from development projects to a joint response to the European refugee crisis. And some firms aren’t afraid to market their efforts. For example, while most consider traditional efforts like that of the Nicosia Chamber of Commerce in Cyprus’s multi-decade peace process to be a peacebuilding activity, the firms that jumped to engage with Myanmar’s military regime after its economic opening say that they should be called peace-builders too, and rewarded as such.
In the absence of a clear definition of ‘peace,’ the business-peace field today is a Wild West of opportunities for companies to make their mark. What is missing is systematized evidence to categorize the wide variety of claims about how companies do—or don’t— support peace. Business for Peace echoes the idea of a ‘liberal peace,’ which has become an ideology in its own right. The UNGC declares that “the private sector can make important contributions” to peace, as the World Bank similarly posits the “catalytic role” of business in conflict reduction. Yet IGOs call for more investment in places where corporate activity is already exacerbating conflict, and the UNGC’s own report that “initiatives to promote conflict-sensitive practices have not been widely embraced and have not yielded a cumulative positive benefit to conflict-affected communities” is broadly ignored. Exuberance appears to have overtaken any commitment to understanding why what is working is working, and why what is not is not.
In the absence of a clear definition of ‘peace,’ the business-peace field today is a Wild West of opportunities for companies to make their mark.
To make sense of it all, we surveyed a broad swath of recent ventures where firms have acted effectively as peacebuilders as well as places where they have simply made conflict and violence worse. Synthesizing many of today’s implicit assumptions, we present five contemporary business actions that arguably advance peace: (1) growing markets and economically integrating regions to facilitate a peace dividend; (2) encouraging local development to grow local peace capacities; (3) importing international norms to improve democratic accountability; (4) changing the drivers or root causes of conflict; and (5) undertaking direct diplomatic efforts with conflict actors. We show that while some see ingenious initiatives brimming with possibilities, others see this as ‘peacewashing’ at best and corporate exploitation of the world’s most vulnerable at worst. We take a measured stance, finding that firms can become effective peacebuilders, but must tread carefully through societal minefields—and their own divergent interests—to get there.
Action I: Businesses Grow Markets that Create a ‘Peace Dividend’
Businesses bring countries and communities together. Or so goes the belief that through trade, economic growth, and capital injections, businesses provide the fundamental building blocks of development and peace to fragile countries. It’s a core paradigm of international political economy, associated with a who’s-who of historical heavy hitters in economics and philosophy, including John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and, more recently, Francis Fukuyama and the Washington Consensus of policy prescriptions supported by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. If it is believed that economic ties make would-be advesaries less inclined to fight, generating local economic development through foreign investment can lead to peace. It is therefore ‘bad business’ to engage in conflict, and a ‘peace dividend’ of increased prosperity for all will result. While policies to boost economies in an effort to create more stable societies can be traced back centuries, the belief that prosperity equals peace (and thus more prosperity is peace-building) is more recent.
Today, this stance holds that economic development promises to reduce all types of conflict, and reframes corporate expansion as the proverbial plowshares. Examples include firms aiding the transition from a war to peace economy by helping to normalize trade and provide essential revenue streams (such as in post-2011 Myanmar), moving early into post-conflict or nearly post-conflict environments to solidify fragile economies (as in investment by resource firms in Kurdistan and Afghanistan), creating economic interdependence across geographic boundaries (like the European Economic Community/European Union). If businesses improve material conditions, conflict incentives are reduced, which in turn leads to more satisfied and peaceful populaces.
Action II: Businesses Make Peace by Bolstering Local Development Capacities
Another peace truism is that responsive and inclusive institutions reduce conflict; therefore, businesses should build local development capacities in their operational areas, which will facilitate local peace. Key members of the peacebuilding community have been drawing international businesses into development for three reasons: first, they believe that better corporate governance is in itself a conflict-sensitive peacebuilding venture; second, that inclusive collaborative action to mitigate local socio-economic ills can lead to broader societal peace; and third, to make use of corporate coffers in resource-scarce settings. Such assertions align seamlessly with corporate CSR goals, allowing firms to demonstrate good corporate citizenship by making a positive governance contribution.
Beginning largely as public relations efforts, CSR departments have grown rapidly. Today, they’re also development tools as firms try to deflect conflict and generate ‘shared value’ by being socially valuable local actors, often promoted through ‘win-win’ profit and peace metrics. Examples include corporate investment in peacebuilding like Newmont Gold’s recognition of Ghana’s Peace Councils in its grievance resolution processes, and Barrick Gold’s support for municipal planning and service delivery in the Dominican Republic. IGOs like the World Bank highlight job creation to promote peace and social cohesion, especially through establishing inclusive and diverse workplaces. An NGO-corporate alliance managing the Virunga Park in Eastern Congo aims to create a corporate ‘peace zone’ around the park, arguing that private sector jobs for rebels and poachers will secure its precious flora and fauna. Employment is thus not only an economic benefit, but also promotes trust, reduces stereotypes, and offers an alternative to fighting. Business motivations for peace essentially take a back seat to operational effectiveness, or as Starbucks Coffee CEO Howard Schultz framed his firm’s impressive CSR portfolio: “This is not altruistic; this is business.”
Action III: Businesses Influence Peace by Importing International Democratic Norms
The philosophy of leading by example also drives business-peace calculations. The belief is that when international (typically Western) firms import sophisticated standards, norms, and ethics, the structural conditions for peace are improved, changing local institutional incentives. Firms reward good behavior through additional investment, or punish bad behavior by withdrawing—and removing the tax bases that their operations provide. Other initiatives include business compliance and risk mitigation strategies, believing that being good corporate citizens will reshape the conduct of those involved. This approach encourages buy-ins that firms find predictable and achievable, as they promise a competitive engagement with governments, as opposed to negotiating with rebel groups or other less predictable actors.
Corporations working in conflict zones are slowly accepting the notion that they are ‘of the conflict’ from their very presence, and that this presence has consequences. By adhering to global standards such as the Voluntary Principles, they often require higher standards of conduct from their local security providers, in contexts where these are usually considered part of the problem. Activities include training local security forces with the help of the international community, working with anti-corruption watchdogs to support initiatives in corrupt countries (such as Transparency International’s partnership on OECD anti-bribery efforts), strengthening the voice of local government and civil society (such as the Tintaya copper mine dialogue table in Peru by BHP Billiton), and partnering on global trends that are presumed to exacerbate local conflict, including the business Caring For Climate initiative launched alongside the COP21 Paris Climate Summit and involvement in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More ethical business practices are thought to percolate positively throughout broader society, making democratic and non-violent means of redress more realistic and possible.
Action IV: Businesses Build Peace by Tackling the Drivers and Root Causes of Conflict
Some firms try to act on issues that they see as causing or exacerbating conflict. These drivers can be economic, political, or structural in nature, and the thinking is that if material conditions on the ground can be improved, the root causes of conflict are addressed and the incentives for conflict are reduced. For firms, this often means attempting to stop financial flows to conflict actors. Examples include getting businesses to sign on to the Kimberley Process for diamonds, conflict-free minerals initiatives in Central Africa, efforts to prevent the sale of oil from ISIS-held areas, and preventing payment of royalties/taxes to oppressive regimes. Big INGOs like Global Witness and International Alert advocate that more open trade and finance regimes can stop wars—and that getting businesses to stop dealing with oppressive regimes and rebel movements can force peace. In support, many firms have instituted conflict sensitive business practice toolkits. Firms often see these initiatives helping to prevent abuses while also reducing incentives for themselves and competitors to operate unethically. These actions can also be positively presented to shareholders, activists, and others as proof that they are helping contribute to peace.
Businesses also attempt to address root causes of insecurity that are assumed to lead to violence. For example, in Sri Lanka, it was the business community that facilitated the peace process. Juan Valdez coffee farmers and other firms in Colombia have hired former rebels during post-conflict peace processes, and HDW, a private security firm operating in the Eastern Congo city of Goma, employs a large proportion of demobilized rebels. In the tense borderland between North and South Korea, a firm operating an export-processing zone puts employees from both parties of the conflict together. And business organizations have partnered with governments and international bodies to pressure regimes with discriminatory policies to achieve political change that is assumed to bring peace, as in boycotts designed to pressure the South African apartheid policy. Such actions undoubtedly have important financial and public relations benefits, but are underpinned in the belief that if each corporate citizen does its part to re-integrate peace into society, both business and society will reap lasting rewards.
Action V: Businesses Make Peace by Direct Diplomatic Efforts with Conflict Actors
Finally, businesses can directly participate in peace processes and conflict resolution negotiations. Here we find business actors acting as mediators, providing a vested stake in moving peace processes forward to “yes.” This can take several forms: by being at the table as peace process participants, as mediators, entering into business partnerships with former conflict elites to encourage their reintegration into society, or in using their local economic power to leverage recalcitrant or disinterested actors to come to the peace table. Business leaders who actively pursue peace are often celebrated, and their leadership is presumed to inspire others to action.
To improve the peace climate, a firm might facilitate a dialogue process between warring factions, as Chevron did in Papua New Guinea by hiring trained mediators, believing that there is a causal link between dialogue, grievances, and peace. Even though Chevron’s activities had little to do with the local dispute, the fighting made the business environment more fragile, so they were incentivized to contribute toward its cessation. In this sense, ‘peacebuilding’ is also risk and impact management for the firm. Other examples abound, including the Nicosia Chamber of Commerce’s role in the Cyprus peace processes and the efforts of South African and international firms during Apartheid to support the democratic transition. Often spearheaded by individual businesspeople, these sorts of activities are not without political and reputational risk.
Should Businesses Really Be in This Business?
These five actions seem altruistic and benign, but are also fiercely contested as part of the battle over who will get to define, make and implement ‘peace.’ Our research shows that detractors fall along three primary lines: those who say that these actions don’t have any real impact; those who say that these actions are done outside of core competencies and simply cause new problems; and those who say that the entire premise is merely a front for deeper penetration into the corporate greenfields of the world. We take each in turn.
First, does business engagement really produce peace? The answer, unfortunately, is: ‘it depends,’ and often, business itself is complicit in driving conflict. AngloGold Ashanti, Anvil Mining, and American Mineral Fields aided rebels to secure mining rights in Congo. Relationships between trade and peace are murky, with trade often thriving despite any advances towards peace. Many business ventures in conflict zones support double-digit GDP growth rates in elite enclaves, while conflict and poverty rage unabated in other parts of the country. Empirical links between corporate standards and peace generation are also tenuous, as institutional reforms that attract investment may have little to do with broader reform that could create a new social contract, and firms complain of the difficulty of implementing standards in the best of circumstances, let alone in conflict-affected areas.
CSR ventures are also problematic, often amounting to little more than PR ventures that have little effect on the ground. While some professional CSR operations are genuine in their intentions, their policies only carry limited influence upon core corporate deliberations. Some companies instead use the cover of CSR to increase their local security budgets, allowing the suppression of local resistance to contested operations. Further, new morality-based CSR approaches linking ethics, activities, norms, and responsibilities are often too complicated to implement across larger companies; CSR is not a strong in-house strategic platform for generating business value, and host governments are wary of foreign CSR ‘contributions’ meddling with local authority. Critics also ask if expanding corporate reach in fact keeps host states weak by reducing local capacity. Because of these and other issues, some in the business community itself are tiring of the CSR concept, looking to move to the next big idea that can generate positive social impact.
Second, business activity can and has worsened some generalized conflict drivers such as inequality. In resource-poor societies, mining new resources often adds another layer of competition between conflict actors, rebutting the assumption that more business makes more peace. Large new investments can calcify strongmen and their cronies to permanent power, reducing political space for civil society or marginalized groups and fan new cycles of violence, as oil wealth has done in Nigeria. The fluid nature of complex inter-group grievances makes these waters exceptionally tricky to navigate, even for those firms with the willingness to recognize and act on the local drivers of conflict. Business operations can also exacerbate other conflict drivers, such as exclusion and marginalization, as investment or joint venture partners typically represent dominant societal groups.
More broadly, there is an inherent difficulty in ‘solving’ root causes of political violence. Businesses may not be the best actors to identify and address those, as their motivations can differ or even contradict those of other peacebuilding agents. Reflecting that reducing conflict alone is not necessarily peacebuilding (it can simply be suppression), firms must also pick winners and losers, and these tend to be pro-government, anti-insurgent actors due to corporate desires for security and market access. And even leaving conflict zones in order to ‘do no harm’ can leave a void for corporations of lower ethical inclination to fill. To wit, Talisman Oil was shamed out of the former Sudan after it was shamed for complicity with the Sudanese government in targeting non-muslims in South Sudan; this gap was filled by Indian firm ONGC Videsh, who was even less inclined to consider its local impact or join western-led peace initiatives.
Third, the harshest critics see deeper involvement of businesses in fragile conflict zones as neo-colonial exploitation. They warn that privileging business in the peace and development space will warp international agendas towards corporate interests and further marginalize the broader population from control over their own political futures. Beyond the simplistic ‘conflict for profit’ frame that some firms exploited in the 1990s, today’s projects like B4P are accused of being a new generation of corporate window-dressing to operate in contentious areas. These pro-business pushes are said to rest on spurious assumptions. Namely, that national actors care about and are invested in adherence to international standards; that links between norms, standards, and peacebuilding are clearly drawn; that international watchdogs have real teeth; that justice and transparency make peace in conflict-ridden societies; and, not least, that businesses are beacons of best practice on all of the above.
Practical issues have arisen as well. Firms are increasingly confronted with ethical dilemmas like roadblock economies, where checkpoint payments by businesses to rebels can worsen local conflict through the very mechanisms necessary to secure local market access. Evidence from Afghanistan, Congo, and Colombia indicate that business operations have made wars worse through these payoffs even as they promise that corporate presence will bring local development. Worse, what many businesses and INGOs might call ‘inclusive community empowerment’ can be labeled by local actors—especially in repressive regimes or ethnically divided societies—as enabling ‘dangerous resistance movements’ or ‘anti-nationalist.’ Further, these well-meaning initiatives can also create new conflict fissures by eroding local government capacity as its duties are farmed out to foreign entities. This ‘corporate paternalism’ harkens back to the colonial past and the United States a century ago when company towns asserted absolute control over goods, services, and even governance of local populations.
From Action to Impact: Taking Business and Peace Forward
Of course, most firms are well aware of how messy (and unprofitable) these ventures can be in practice. So why do they still want to expand their peacebuilding presence? New strategic incentives are at play, including the aspirational elements of how pro-peace actions support a visible, positive corporate culture, and the impression of a virtuous firm; the belief that a corporation can go beyond ‘responsibilities’ to a re-thinking the role of business in society that incentivizes peace action; and a more general CEO mindset that is about more than making money. These thrusts can come from shareholders, boards, or management training, and increasingly mandate business action to try to facilitate peace.
Moreover, IGOs and business scholars are already moving beyond CSR into political and diplomatic engagement realms. The United Nations has integrated business into its Responsibility to Protect and Responsibility While Protecting platforms, and perhaps no initiative epitomizes this shift better than the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (BAHR), the first global standard on how businesses should protect human rights. The belief is that if firms comply with this and other international rights principles, they will ipso facto contribute to peace—regardless of the fact that the initiatives themselves fall outside the scope of what most academics and practitioners call ‘peacebuilding.’ It may also be punitive, as ongoing UN sessions are working to draft a “legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.” There remain major gaps between the public fanfare of businesses becoming signatories to BAHR frameworks and the complexity of actionable human rights guidance (or legitimate punitive threats), but deeper and more comprehensive business engagements into peace arenas continue to multiply.
But how businesses integrate peace action within their corporate structure is more complicated and institutional change to forward societal value has been hard to do.Interaction effects between large firms and their local subsidiaries on CSR and peace also matter. Our research on Heineken and its Bralima subsidiary in the Congo showed how HQ was vocal about their CSR goals, but pressured local staff to focus instead on raising profits and increasing market share. Still, with an increasing push on not if businesses should be involved, but how we can discover the right conditions for impact, international businesses in particular are primed to become more deeply involved in the double-edged sword of peace engagement.
Going forward, who gets to define what constitutes a ‘business-peace contribution’ may be the biggest predictor of how deep these interactions truly get. Firms argue that researchers need to quantify the costs and benefits for business to proactively improve upon the conditions of conflict that best facilitate involvement in peacebuilding, and need definable metrics for when they should and shouldn’t intervene. However, conflict triggers that spur firms to action often generate only development initiatives—positive outcomes MNCs pride themselves for—which are unlikely to generate peace or mitigate conflict. Ultimately, B4P might be laudable simply because it gets businesses to commit to ‘peace undefined,’ creating a space for NGOs and other stakeholders to then engage, contend, and expand what exactly is or ought to be at stake.
These developments portend a deep sense of urgency to better understand business-peace actions to allow for more conscientious guidance. Our research suggests that the most effective engagements do not arise from pre-conceived notions of which business actions promote peace, but require grounded fieldwork for each specific operational setting, making the concrete peace outcomes by different stakeholders explicit. Even the seemingly most positive, ‘win-win’ business-peace action, if implemented hastily, can have unintended consequences. While this undoubtedly makes it harder to operationalize peacebuilding for business, it is much more likely that long-term results will be more robust for the firm and of deeper value to the local communities who should always be regarded as the ultimate peacebuilders.
Less Labor, More Profit for Benin's Cassava Farmers
Even so, cassava farming and processing is a labor-intensive activity. Farmers must harvest cassava tubers, peel and grind them into a white pulp, and then process them to squeeze out the remaining water and starch before fermenting over several days. The work it takes to create value-added products like garri only adds to the grueling process. Members of Mialebouni often had to travel long distances to use processing units and sometimes, women would enlist the help of their children to assist with harvesting and processing, which took them away from school.
In 2012, the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF), a Feed the Future interagency partner, gave Mialebouni a $150,000 capacity-building grant, followed by a $240,000 enterprise expansion grant in 2016 to improve the labor-intensive process of cassava farming.
Mialebouni used the grant to purchase innovative, mobile processing stations designed to meet their members’ needs, reduce hardships and increase profits. The mobile grinders and presses can be transported by bicycle to provide processing services in several villages. Now, members save time and money by traveling shorter distances to process their harvests, and can also work at communal processing centers and use their services for a small fee. Other features include garri-fortification to increase nutrition, fuel-efficient cookstoves to reduce firewood, and packaging equipment to increase sanitation standards.
The mobile processing equipment is small but mighty—it has saved Mialebouni’s members countless hours of travel time and is helping them better feed their families. Members can rapidly process cassava harvests using the reliable and efficient equipment, increase their incomes with better quality products, and feed their children fortified products. In Benin, where 45 percent of young children suffer from chronic malnutrition, garri fortified with pineapple and coconut can make a big difference for growing children.
USADF is also working with the Government of Benin to support cassava farming. The Government has matched USADF funding of $500,000 annually, and since 2012, USADF and the Government of Benin have invested over $5 million in food security and economic development, doubling the annual quantity of cassava processed and supporting over 27,000 farmers, half of whom are women.
Being a USADF grantee also means that Mialebouni and operations similar to it now have access to a local technical partner that can help them strengthen their organization's financial management. To support their members, Mialebouni is working with Action Pour la Promotion des Initiatives Communautaires (APIC) to increase financial literacy and enable the women to track their own production and sales. Access to this type of training ensures that USADF support is also helping create long-lasting operations.
Today, the Mialebouni Association is sustainably growing from a small association to a commercial enterprise: Mialebouni sales and revenues of value-added products have tripled since 2012. The association is now a major competitor in local and regional markets and has even hosted several exchange visits with delegations from other neighboring countries, including USADF grantees from Liberia, to learn about cassava processing.
"Thanks to this partnership, Mialebouni and its members have increased their incomes, can send their children to school, and some are even running for local office,” Sossa Bernadette said. “We are well-known and respected in our community."