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Climate Action: ICAEW film urges private sector on leading role 

BY MARY KUYE

ICAEW (the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) (www.ICAEW.com) hosted a special screening of its new climate action film ‘Our Planet: Our Business’ in Nigeria. The film, inspired by the David Attenborough-narrated Netflix series ‘Our Planet’, encourages private enterprises to play a leading role in the fight against environmental collapse.

Hosted by ICAEW Contact Member for Nigeria, Sanyade Okoli and opened by ICAEW Council Member for Africa, Ede Dafinone, the session explored what the world’s business community can do to help tackle the global environmental crisis.

Following the film screening, ICAEW members also gained insights from ICAEW’s Director of Sustainability, Richard Spencer. He highlighted the risks of climate change to businesses across the African continent, and how companies can minimise the impact they have on the planet. According to the African Climate Policy Centre, GDP in Africa – is projected to suffer significantly as a result of a global temperature increase.

Climate change is a defining issue of our time and is having a growing impact on the African continent

Spencer emphasised that the climate emergency represents the greatest risk of modern times, and urged accountancy professionals to also act now and play their part in saving the planet. He challenged business leaders to fully recognise the critical link between nature and business prosperity and the leading role the private sector must play in tackling the threat of climate change.

The speakers stressed the importance of including sustainability reports as part of financial statements and stated that corporate reporting should cover sustainability issues critical to businesses. The information included in sustainability reports must also be prepared to the same high standard as financial performance issues and reporting. They agreed that these reports should be an integral part of a company’s performance and accountability in today’s world.

Michael Armstrong, ICAEW Regional Director for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), said: “Many countries have established laws and formal governmental structures to address their serious environmental problems, but few have been successful yet in alleviating those problems. Chartered accountants in Africa need to work together to guide governments and policymakers to regulate business by putting standards in place that encourage progress to a sustainable world. If these standards are in place and made mandatory to follow, businesses will be forced to act on them and change their approach.”

Ede Dafinone, ICAEW Council Member for Africa, added: “Climate change is a defining issue of our time, and is having a growing impact on the African continent. It is contributing to food insecurity, population displacement and stress on our water resources, which will increase threats to the socio-economic development in Africa. Acting now will be key to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals’ vision of fair and sustainable prosperity. There must be real change, and this starts with evaluating what we are already doing – the only viable future is one where businesses innovate to demand less of our world. For this reason, it is important for businesses to start looking at sustainability as a business imperative.”

ICAEW’s sustainability experts called for businesses to revaluate how they are affecting the environment both negatively and positively, and ensure that they implement policies around educating their staff how the business is contributing socially and environmentally. They agreed that transitioning to zero carbon is the biggest way companies can contribute to climate change and sustainability efforts across the world.

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