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GRI in South Africa

GRI Focal Point South Africa
The GRI Focal Point South Africa works to promote GRI's mission in southern Africa and other key target markets on the continent.

Reporting in South Africa
South Africa is the biggest economy in Africa accounting for 24% of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). South Africa is among the top mining countries in the world, controlling three quarters of the world's platinum production and large reserves of palladium, gold, manganese, and diamonds. South Africa is reportedly the fifth largest investor in other African countries with its mining, retail, financial, and telecommunications companies setting shop across the continent.

The Focal Point envisages working with these multinational companies to expand and share best practices across the continent.

The response to national and international accountability frameworks by the business community in South Africa has been positive and pioneering in some respects. The regulatory environment has encouraged transparency and accountability by the private sector. The drivers for reporting include sector specific charters such as the mining charter, the JSE SRI Index and listing requirements that compel listed companies to produce an integrated report on a 'comply or explain why' basis (93% of the registered 2011 GRI reports from South Africa are from publicly listed companies), the IoDSA King III Code of Governance Principles for South Africa, the Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) Codes of Good Practice, the Public Investment Corporation's (PIC) Corporate Governance Rating Matrix.

The Government of South Africa is a member of the Group of Friends of Paragraph 47, together with Brazil, Demark and France. The group’s goal is to advance corporate sustainability reporting, and the countries have invited GRI and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to support them in a secretariat capacity.

Sustainability reporting in South Africa is continually growing and GRI is a vital partner enabling companies to become successful reporters. In South Africa many reporting entities use the GRI Guidelines and support GRI’s mission. Between 2010 and 2011 there was a 97% growth in the number of registered GRI reports in South Africa. Today South Africa is one of the countries with the largest number of known GRI reporters globally. Additionally, there are many other companies that refer to the GRI Guidelines when producing their sustainability report. South Africa is also leading in the development of Integrated Reporting and many of its companies are among those that are currently testing the concept practically.

However the uptake of sustainability reporting in the rest of the continent has been very low. Of the GRI registered reports in 2010 and 2011, only 3% were from outside South Africa, namely from organizations in Egypt, Kenya, Mauritius and Nigeria.

South African experts and practitioners have played an important role in the development of the GRI Framework for Sustainability through participation in technical committees, feedback platforms, and representation on the GRI governance bodies - the Stakeholder Council, Technical Advisory Committee and Board of Directors. Ms Karin Ireton of Standard Bank South Africa is the current chairman of the Stakeholder Council.

Focal Point South Africa
The GRI Focal Point South Africa's objectives are:
• Promoting the importance of transparency for markets and better knowledge of sustainability reporting (SR) in key target markets on the continent as well as in the SADC region
• Building and strengthening sustainability performance and reporting capacity
• Shaping the reporting environment by influencing public policy and market initiatives
• Facilitating the participation and representation of African organizations/experts/practitioners in the development of the GRI Reporting Framework and governance bodies as well as GRI’s participation in key African regional initiatives
• Ensuring long term institutional sustainability

Current activities for GRI Focal Point South Africa include:

1. Launch of Focal Point South Africa
The Focal Point was officially launched on 26 February 2013 at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). The launch featured high level speakers from South Africa and the Sub-Saharan Africa region, as well as GRI’s Chief Executive Mr. Ernst Ligteringen and Chairman Emeritus Professor Mervyn King. The event brought together more than 170 leaders and opinion formers from business, government, academia, civil society and financial markets, and opened up discussions on global sustainability reporting developments.

2. G4 Roll Out
Following on from the recent launch of the G4 Guidelines at the Global Conference on Sustainability and Reporting in Amsterdam on 22-24 May, GRI Focal Point South Africa has been involved in a number of events to engage stakeholders and reporters on the new G4 guidelines.

The events include:
Environmental & Sustainability Solutions (ESS), From G3.1 to G4 in Sustainability/ Integrated Reporting, Johannesburg, South Africa, 18 June 2013
Next Generation Consultants, GRI G4 Information Session, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2 July 2013
Focal Point South Africa, GRI training workshop for the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Bank of South Africa Green Fund, Johannesburg, South Africa, 19 July 2013
GRI G4 Guidelines: More Reports, Better Reporting, Johannesburg, South Africa, 24 July 2013 with support from Ernst and Young
GRI G4 Guidelines: More Reports, Better Reporting, Cape Town, South Africa, 25 July 2013 with support from Ernst and Young
Environmental Resources Management (ERM) Southern Africa, G4 Reporting - what will we do differently? Johannesburg, South Africa, 14 August 2013
Focal Point South Africa & TB Consult, Sustainability Conversations – Profit with Purpose, Johannesburg, South Africa, 31 October 2013
Sustainability Reporting – Launch of GRI G4 in Mauritius, Ebene, Mauritius, 5 November 2013 with support from Mauritius Institute of Directors and Omnicane

As part of the global roll-out to raise awareness and promote better understanding of the new G4 guidelines, GRI Focal Point South Africa will be rolling out the new G4 guidelines in Kenya and Nigeria in the coming months. The events will cover both the key changes from G3.1 to G4 and the main reporting trends and practices identified at the Global Conference. The G4 event in Nigeria is planned for January 2014. Dates are still to be set for Kenya. Please keep your eye on the GRI events center for more details and to register for these events.

Other recent Regional Outreach and Engagement activities for GRI Focal Point South Africa have included:

Regional CSR Indaba and stakeholder engagement, Harare, Zimbabwe, 3-6 April 2013
IUCN Sustainable Fair Coasts Initiative: Towards Sustainable and Responsible Management of the LNG Industry national workshop, Maputo, Mozambique, 2-4 May 2013
Stakeholder mapping and engagement visit and sustainability reporting workshop for UNGC Ghana members, Accra, Ghana, 3-7 June 2013
Africa Roundtable on Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria, 20-21 June 2013
19th International Conference on Small and Medium Enterprises (ICSME), Durban, South Africa, 18-21 September 2013
UNPRI in Person Conference, Cape Town, South Africa, 30 September-2 October 2013
Shareholders’ Forum: Transition towards Sustainable and Responsible investing in Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe, 4 October 2013
Safaricom Launch of Sustainability Report, Nairobi, Kenya, 16 October 2013
BCSDZ 20th Anniversary Annual Conference, Harare, Zimbabwe, 26-27 November 2013

The Focal Point is funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). The GRI Focal Point South Africa would like to thank its principal supporter:

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