The other interesting session for me was the UNCTAD 14 parallel session on Sustainable and responsible investment at Riara University.
The thought –provoking discussions began with the School of Business Dean Prof. Abel Kinoti setting the agenda for moving from decisions to actions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Next up was Dr. Maria Alenjadra-Peres, a professor at Universidad in Colombia who spoke about moving from local to global and now a universal agenda. The SDGs are an evolution from Corporate Social Responsibility to Sustainability and from voluntary to mandatory actions by businesses. It was interesting to learn the SDGs have a history in Colombia. Paula Caballero, Senior Director, Environment, at the World Bank created the first drafts of the SDGs while Director for Economic, Social and Environmental Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, and continued to be a key proponent and negotiator in the run-up to the adoption of the post-2015 framework in September 2015.
Africa has been experiencing what could very well be termed as extreme and unprecedented weather patterns since the beginning of 2016. This is, by and large, a similar situation to many parts of the world. Recent international climate change negotiations have had one common goal: to stop global warming short of 2 degrees. If world average temperatures are allowed to increase by more than 2˚C, there is now a real and present danger that climate change will stall and then reverse the economic gains made over the past two decades. At 2 degrees Celsius of warming, low-lying island nations are expected to be under water, droughts and storms will become supercharged and a third of species may be put at risk for extinction. Not to mention the increased risk of deadly heat waves. It’s a dangerous threshold; one which world leaders agree we don’t want to cross.
I like to start every conversation about branding with a quote by the author of the famous book, ‘How to make friends and influence people’ Dale Carnegie. He says, “when dealing with people; remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” This is because the decisions made by consumers about brands are not rational but emotional. The question, therefore that many marketers should be concerned with today is how to create strong emotional connections that turn products into brands.
Wikipedia defines sustainability brands as products and services that are branded to signify a special added value in terms of environmental and social benefits to the customer and thus enable the differentiation from competitors. Sustainability branding emphasizes the notion of brands, which have built their brand image upon sustainable business practices that consumers’ value.
I caught up with His Excellency Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary General of UNCTAD last week. He is in town for the fourteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 14). The session, which takes place from 14th to 22nd July 2016 in Nairobi, will bring together Heads of State and Government, ministers and other prominent players from the business world, civil society and academia to tackle global trade and economic development issues.
Last week, Safaricom launched their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) strategy in a colourful event in Nairobi. The event marked the first public commitment to the SDGs made by a company in Kenya since they were launched last year. In his opening remarks, Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore noted that the SDGs usher in a new era of sustainability. He therefore urged companies in Kenya to get ready to take on the SDGs agenda as these goals provide a platform to pursue new opportunities for business. To do this, companies must challenge their current practices and address poverty, inequality and environmental challenges. The SDGs make good business sense. Businesses cannot be successful when the society around them fails. They need to look at the future and develop products and services now that will help to tackle future challenges. Global Compact has developed guides to support businesses in aligning strategies with the SDGs.