Global, EU and African policy-makers and experts discussed the drivers of change towards a green and just transition to help ‘build back better’ with the insights and perspectives of both the global south and global north, at a joint ACCA, Green Finance Platform and PAFA event.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis shows how interdependent and interconnected Europe and Africa are, and why it is so important that both continents act together to seize shared opportunities and tackle common challenges.
There is an urgent need for green and just transition mechanisms to be designed and implemented with the insights and perspectives of both the global south and global north in mind. As parties prepare for the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in Glasgow in November 2021, a more targeted EU-Africa green finance partnership is needed, alongside a strategic long-term plan that aligns with an actionable climate strategy.
One day after the announcement of the EU Climate Pact Day of Action, and just a few months ahead of COP 26, this was the main focus of a joint ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) Green Finance Platform and PAFA ( the Pan-African Federation of Accountants) global event that discussed Scaling-up efforts towards Paris alignment and supporting the SDGs in the EU-Africa Strategic Partnership.
Helen Brand, OBE, chief executive of ACCA opened the discussion: ‘Africa and Europe do have a mutual interest in accelerating the progress of the global agenda for sustainable development, fuelled by the need to rethink a common future. Climate change, and the interconnected environmental, technological, economic and social challenges, are an intrinsic part of the development agenda for both continents, alongside the rest of the world. At ACCA, we’re convinced that finance professionals and accountants have a key role to play in achieving this sustainable and inclusive recovery, focused on public value and faster transitions. There is much work to do here, but it is heartening to see partnerships forming to co-create policy action.’
Nicole Martens, Director at Martens Impact Advisory and Acting Head of Africa & Middle East at UNPRI, the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, who moderated the panel discussion said: ‘The challenges presented by the climate emergency are global in nature. There is no single region or country that is immune from the effects of the world-wide transition currently underway. The nature of the problem necessitates a collaborative approach to its solution. Simply put: No one can do this alone. We have to work together. The Africa-EU partnership is a great example of how resources and expertise can be pooled across borders to ensure sustainable, inclusive growth and development that incorporates material impacts of the shifting global context. The potential that this kind of arrangement presents is significant, and if managed correctly, the opportunities that it unlocks for further, broader and even more impactful collaboration is substantial.’
The discussions highlighted the importance of the Africa-EU partnerships and strategy - reaffirming that climate is not a European issue only - the need for these to focus on policies and actions, and that we have to be hyperconnected in our policy making and implementation. Speakers also highlighted the need for a targeted approach to create value through collaboration, the importance of adding risks and opportunities of climate change to the agenda of boards - the “conscience” of companies - and that there should be a golden thread throughout all considerations in decision-making.
Discussions also revolved around “leapfrogging” - Africa's ability to catch up faster in sustainability and digital transition by skipping some stages that other regions had to take in their journey. It was stressed that time is of the essence: it is very important for the financial sector to have SDG's and sustainable finance as the purpose of their business and included in their short, medium and long term goals. The pandemic has shown our fractured relationship with nature. But financial systems cannot exist without putting nature at the centre; panellists also stressed that through investment and innovative tools we can combine the three industrial, technology and green revolutions to harness opportunities.
Professor Mervyn King SC said: ‘Africa is a continent of developing countries while Europe is a developed continent. A finance partnership between the two is important for the future of planet Earth. To be effective that partnership should target implementation of value creation and not just thinking and talking about it. Whilst the endgame might be to have a globally accepted comprehensive corporate reporting system we might have to be satisfied, at least in the medium term, through the international sustainability standards board to be established in November under the auspices of the IFRS to develop in discussions with IOSCO, the EC and the SEC about global baselines of sustainability related disclosures standards to meet investors needs, and used for sustainability issues by different jurisdictions and particular to that jurisdiction. The true changemaker of looking at value creation from inputs to outcomes is the accountant with his or her public interest training and therefore should rather be called a value officer than a financial officer. Accountants, through their training as the stewards of business information can more easily grasp the principles of integrated thinking and do an integrated report containing the significant material financial and sustainability issues pertinent to the business of the company.’
The event also referred to the importance of culture and the ability of changing mindsets, with emphasis on the gap between sustainability thinking and doing, and the question as to how to link public policies, corporate sustainability and performance with reward. On projects and aid funding, could these projects include creating awareness and building the capacity necessary to enable the accountancy profession to prioritise a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development?
Alta Prinsloo, CEO of PAFA concluded: ‘We know that the consequences of climate change are concentrated in regions with relatively hot climates where disproportionately large numbers of low income countries are located. I believe the accountancy profession in Africa has a public interest responsibility to contribute to efforts to mitigate climate change. We have to make a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development a priority, as is the case for Agenda 2063. PAFA stands ready to collaborate on developing a roadmap for mobilizing the more than 150,000 champions of change in Africa.’
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The recording of the event is available here
About ACCA: ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global professional body for professional accountants.
We’re a thriving global community of 233,000 members and 536,000 future members based in 178 countries and regions, who work across a wide range of sectors and industries. We uphold he highest professional and ethical values.
We offer everyone everywhere the opportunity to experience a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. Our qualifications and learning opportunities develop strategic business leaders, forward-thinking professionals with the financial, business and digital expertise essential for the creation of sustainable organisations and flourishing societies.
Since 1904, being a force for public good has been embedded in our purpose. We believe that accountancy is a cornerstone profession of society and is vital helping economies, organisations and individuals to grow and prosper. It does this by creating robust trusted financial and business management, combating corruption, ensuring organisations are managed ethically, driving sustainability, and providing rewarding career opportunities.
And through our cutting-edge research, we lead the profession by answering today’s questions and preparing for the future. We’re a not-for-profit organisation. Find out more at accaglobal.com
About PAFA: The Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA) is the continental body representing Africa's professional accountants. Established in May 2011, PAFA is a non-profit organization currently with 56 Professional Accountancy Organizations (PAOs) from 45 countries. Its mission is to accelerate and strengthen the voice and capacity of the accountancy profession to work in the public interest, facilitate trade, and enhance benefits and quality services to Africa's citizens.