Ninety One becomes first SA asset manager to sign onto Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative

Ninety One is proud to become the first South African signatory to the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative, which supports institutional investing aligned with the global goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner.

This commitment underlines Ninety One’s support for the objectives of the Paris Agreement and global efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C and aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The assets represented by the Initiative comprise almost half of the entire asset management sector globally in terms of total funds managed. A total of 128 investors including the world’s three largest asset managers – collectively managing $43 trillion in assets – are now part of the initiative.

Signatory asset managers commit to prioritise the achievement of real economy emissions reductions, take account of material portfolio Scope 3 emissions (resulting from activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organisation), create investment products aligned with net-zero emissions and facilitate increased investment in climate solutions.

Beyond this, it is fitting that Ninety One is the first South African signatory because of its unique position to make the case not merely for a transition to cleaner forms of energy, but a just transition that takes into account the unique socio-economic challenges South Africa faces as it works to de-carbonise the economy.

Hendrik du Toit, CEO of Ninety One, said: “Ninety One believes in sustainability with substance. The world needs an inclusive transition plan that works for all its 7.9 billion people. Therefore, a drive to net zero that excludes, intentionally or otherwise, any place or enterprise could result in no net zero at all. So, to us, the mission to reduce carbon must include the entire world. In particular, the carbon-intensive emerging market economies need time, encouragement and resources to adjust. Ninety One, as a company with its roots firmly in South Africa, understands this need perhaps better than most. Emerging economies, after all, are not responsible for the bulk of emissions to date.”

In its drive to achieve low-emission investment portfolios, Ninety One’s intention is to do more than lower ‘portfolio carbon’ by simply constructing portfolios that exclude high-emitting countries and companies. Instead, Ninety One seeks to differentiate between the reduction of ‘portfolio carbon’ and the reduction of carbon emissions across the real economy.

Currently, companies are incentivised to divest their carbon-heavy assets to report declining carbon intensity, while countries are encouraged to ‘offshore’ their carbon emissions to other countries without adjusting domestic consumption patterns. By automatically applying an exclusionary process to achieve net-zero targets, a key consequence for investors is likely to be the creation of portfolios concentrated in developed markets and asset-light industries. This process disregards the requisite transition focus on those industries and economies that remain.

A narrow focus on lowering ‘reported carbon intensity’ is likely to suck capital out of the developing world. This could deny large parts of the world the capital required to build a cleaner, greener economy that would benefit everyone. And it would deny developed-market investors access to the economic dynamism of emerging markets and the potential opportunity to benefit from returns. 

Du Toit says that Ninety One believes in active engagement and encouragement towards a transition. “As a recent paper from Imperial College noted, ‘Not all firms can go green, but they can all get engaged in transition.’ Instead of risking a disorderly exit from carbon-intensive economies, sectors or companies by isolating these investments, we will – where we can exert influence and create impact – actively allocate investment to companies and countries that can be encouraged to deliver on transition plans and, importantly, show the will to do so.”

“Ultimately, the drive to net zero is about the reduction over time of all the world’s carbon, not merely of ‘reported’ carbon, and true success is about bringing every country and sector along on the same journey.”

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SA gas startup Bluedrop Energy plans dual IPO on NYSE and JSE

Bluedrop Energy, a South African Gas startup company, this week announced its plans to list its shares on the NYSE in New York, USA and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, South Africa. Bluedrop will first float its shares on the NYSE in 2022, while its JSE listing will follow at a date still to be announced.

In April this year, Bluedrop announced that it has secured a $20 million (R300 million) funding from J. Sassoon Group, a US, Washington DC-based private equity and investment firm for the construction of Bluedrop’s modern state of the art Smart Composite LPG Cylinder manufacturing plant. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) of the US has also issued a letter of interest providing $36m (R497m) finance guarantee in support of J Sassoon Group for this project.

Last month, J. Sassoon Group signed a Technical Services Agreement (TSA) with the South African office of a US-based multinational engineering firm, Fluor Corporation, for the development of Bluedrop’s smart composite LPG cylinder manufacturing plant.

Commenting on the listing, J. Sassoon Group Chairman, Mr. David Sassoon said: “We are pleased to continue to advise Bluedrop on its next step in its journey. The South African market is in desperate need of foreign capital infusion and this potential floating of Bluedrop’s shares in New York is going to help Bluedrop grow exponentially through asset acquisitions making it one of the leading LPG wholesalers and composite LPG cylinder manufacturers in Africa.

Unfortunately, there has been a drought of investments in South Africa’s capital market, forcing startups like Bluedrop to seek funding from foreign markets. These are opportunities that should be available for local entrepreneurs and investors, but these opportunities end up being transferred to markets like New York and London.

Government has to re-energise local markets, it needs to offer incentives to local investors to unleash local capital, which will encourage foreign investors to invest in South Africa and reduce risk exposure to foreign investors. Otherwise, local capital will continue to flow to foreign markets, which makes firms such as ours have incentives to co-invest with local partners. Co-investment goes beyond just capital, co-investing with local partners allows for the creation of an intellectual highway of ideas, and unlocks more opportunities, all of which fosters cooperation and helps local economies grow exponentially.”

Sassoon added, “We are in the process of negotiations to secure bulk offtakes for Bluedrop from LPG Suppliers in the US to complement and fulfill critical aspects of Bluedrop’s value chain and strategy. The US is a major producer of LPG therefore in J. Sassoon, Bluedrop has the right partners to help them source product from a market spoilt with abundance of this critical energy source.”

J. Sassoon expects to help raise up to $100 million (R1,4 billion) in private placement funding for Bluedrop’s second round of funding for its pre-IPO campaign before its shares float on the NYSE. J. Sassoon Group is advising Bluedrop on its planned initial public offering in collaboration and consultation with its U.S. based industry partners and a local broker-dealer firm in South Africa.

Kenneth Maduna, CEO, Bluedrop Energy

Bluedrop’s CEO, Mr. Kenneth Maduna remarked, “The listing on the stock market will elevate our profile within the energy sector and investment community. It will surely expand our investor base. It is a value accretive step in the growth of Bluedrop as a relatively new entrant in the energy markets and it fits in perfectly with our acquisitive growth strategy. We have a very good launch project and it gives us leverage to build an impressive asset base within this high growth market of LPG in South Africa and the SADC region. We are also humbled by the outpouring of support from the South African government and various sector entities. It gives us great confidence in our business to know that our government and our partners share our vision of LPG being at the critical nerve-center of the country’s energy future.”

Mr. Bruce Fein, J. Sassoon Group CEO, commented, “Bluedrop is a Cinderella story that is still in the making for South Africa’s markets. We remain committed to our agreement with Bluedrop and its success. This is the time for South Africa to shine and grow.”

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Solving SA’s energy crisis: the role of industry collaboration and innovation

Companies across South Africa have stepped up their corporate innovation capabilities forward, in line with government’s call to find urgent solutions to the country’s energy crisis.

Some of the clear-cut solutions available to South Africa lie in the conversion of waste and refuse into energy; property portfolios committing to green, energy-efficient buildings; land-use sustainability and reduced plastic in the packaging in the production of food, as some key examples.

Creating a circular economy

For its part, the government is committed to redirecting waste from landfills and in support of this, new laws have been legislated and regulations are being rolled out, all aimed at cleaning up South Africa and reducing the negative environmental as well as the health impacts caused by waste.

Overviewing innovations in the waste-to-energy space, Kate Stubbs, Marketing Director at Interwaste explains the many unutilised opportunities for alternative energy creation – the easiest lying in our ability to reuse and repurpose mounting waste to help with the much-needed energy supply. “Many businesses are already moving towards a zero waste to landfill target and examining ways in which they can effectively repurpose through the development of some of the most advanced technology to ensure waste-to-energy can be realised.”

Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) was pioneered by Interwaste locally. “We have been successful in taking a solid fuel source, which is recovered through the shredding and bailing of certain pre-sorted dry industrial non-recyclable waste – and creating a fuel source that is similar to A-grade coal. This represents a strong alternative to fossil fuel use. This alternative fuel can be used within sole/co-feeding plants and even replace conventional fuels such as coal in production plants for power, steam and heat generation or any other suitable combustion installations,” says Stubbs.

She explains that the Circular Economy model offers opportunities to deliver sustainable and inclusive economic growth, combining job opportunities with positive environmental practices. “By stripping out all unnecessary waste materials, reducing the consumption of energy and raw materials and allowing these materials, energy, and resources to be ‘fed’ back into the cycle, I believe there is an opportunity here for companies to optimise their own waste streams for use in other industries.”

Property space has a critical role to play

Property owners can do much to reduce energy consumption. With a focus on minimising its environmental footprint, Liberty Two Degrees (L2D), a precinct focused, retail-centred REIT, has done exactly that and has obtained certification by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) on its entire retail portfolio.

“The retail property sector plays a considerable role in reducing carbon footprint, combating plastic waste, and more importantly saving energy in the process through its support of the circular economy model,” says Jonathan Sinden, Chief Operations Officer of L2D. “Our focus is placed on ensuring that buildings’ ongoing operations and management are resource-efficient and environmentally responsible, with long-term sustainability goals embedded in day-to-day operational policies and plans.”

L2D has a commitment to achieving its sustainability targets of net zero waste this year (2021), net zero water by 2025 and net zero energy by 2030, and has made substantial inroads notwithstanding the pandemic, as demonstrated by its Green Star Existing Building Performance (EBP) ratings on all buildings.

Beyond property, the logistics and supply chain industry is a critical area for greener innovation.

Fully aligned with addressing the energy crisis is the journey by KFC South Africa to eliminate non-recoverable or non-reusable plastic-based packaging by 2025.

Siya Ngcukana, Chief Supply Chain Officer at KFC Africa says that the brand is fully conscious of its impact on the environment and remains committed to ensuring that all-natural resources are managed responsibly throughout the end-to-end supply chain. Our recent switch from plastic straws and stirrers to paper straws and wooden stirrers, resulted in a reduction of approximately 70 tons of non-degradable plastic annually – about 65-million straws and 4-million stirrers.

“Together with supply partners in our distribution, we are exploring converting used cooking oil from our restaurants into bio-diesel to enable partial fuel replacement. This would reduce our demand for normal diesel and the associated carbon footprint.”

“The industry is focused on the next generation of supply chains resulting from opportunities presented by new energy-efficient technologies and heightened customer requirements.”

“A key supply chain innovation in which the QSR industry can further reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions is by being Proudly South African – where majority of suppliers they make use of are local businesses. This can have a beneficial impact on energy consumption and transport-derived carbon emissions. To this end, a large portion of our consumer facing packaging portfolio makes use of a local recycled board, which is key in our sustainability efforts,” adds Ngcukana.

As technology and innovation increases, many more opportunities will undoubtedly be unlocked to combat the energy challenges faced in South Africa.

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High-Level Panel report [review of regulations: wild animals]

Minister Barbara Creecy: Release of High-Level Panel report reviewing policies and regulations on hunting, trade, captive keeping, management and handling of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinos

2 May 2021
 
I have today, 2 May 2021, released the report of the High-Level Panel that was appointed to review policies, regulatory measures, practices and policy positions that are related to hunting, trade, captive keeping, management and handling of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros.
 
The appointment of the Panel through the hosting in August 2018, of a Colloquium on Captive Lion Breeding by the then Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs. This was attended by a range of national and international organisations who gave evidence to the Committee. According to the report of the Portfolio Committee, which was later adopted by Parliament, there was a predominant view that the captive lion breeding industry did not contribute to conservation and was doing damage to South Africa’s conservation and tourism reputation.
 
The Portfolio Committee, therefore, requested the department, as a matter of urgency, to initiate a policy and legislative review with a view to putting an end to this practice. Given that there were a number of other burning issues related to other iconic species such as rhino (escalating poaching, rhino horn trade), elephant (ivory trade), and leopard (threats such as illegal offtake of damage-causing leopards, poorly managed trophy hunting, trade-in leopard skin for religious and traditional use) the department decided to include these in the terms of reference of the Panel in order to get a holistic view of the pertinent issues.
 
I established the High Level Panel on 10 October 2019, in terms of S.3A of the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 (NEMA). The Panel was chaired by Pamela Yako and comprised 25 members from a range of backgrounds and areas of expertise.

Despite the obstacles placed in the way of the Panel’s work by the Covid 19 pandemic, it has gone about its task in a thorough and professional manner, and was able to put in place a comprehensive program of stakeholder consultations, during which all interested parties were given an opportunity to make written submissions and to present their case to the Panel.

The Panel even managed to conduct a series of face-to-face consultations in between the first and second waves of Covid-19 in 5 provinces with the leadership of those communities living adjacent to protected areas which carry the iconic species under consideration. It concluded its work on 15 December last year, and submitted a report of almost 600 pages to me a few days later. The report was subsequently presented in Cabinet and approved for release and implementation.
 
I wish to thank the Panel for the work that it has done in producing a comprehensive and credible report with a set of recommendations which address the difficult issues facing the sector.
 
I am greatly impressed by the depth of work undertaken, and the level of detail presented in the report. It contains a comprehensive situation analysis; a review of the extensive work of previous panels and processes; and it addresses a number of contextual issues necessary to advance coherence in policy, legislation, regulation and its implementation across spheres of government and management authorities.
 
Throughout the report, the focus is on  providing policy certainty and reducing bureaucracy and red tape. Perhaps most admirable that the panel recognised that resolution of the issues required a bigger-picture framing, a re-imagining if you will.
 
It is in this context that the Panel envisages “Secured, restored, and rewilded natural landscapes with thriving populations of elephant, lion, rhino, and leopard, as indicators for a vibrant, responsible, inclusive, transformed, and sustainable wildlife sector”.
 
This vision is aligned with the Strategic Plan 2024 of the Department, and the Impact Statement within that Strategy: “A prosperous and equitable society living in harmony with our natural resources”. Besides providing specific interventions to resolve key issues in the sector, the report also provides for a re-conceptualised wildlife sector, that will provide a new deal for people and wildlife in South Africa.  
 
The report contains a clear vision, with 18 goals and 60 recommendations. I must say it is remarkable that a group of people with different views on the management of these iconic species was able to achieve consensus on all recommendations, except those recommendations that deal with captive lion and rhino breeding. In terms of captive lion and captive rhino breeding, where there were majority and minority recommendations, and having applied my mind, we will be adopting the majority recommendations on these issues.
 
In adopting the report’s recommendations, it is important to indicate what the key outcomes for the country will include:

  • The development of a shared vision for the sector;
  • Improved policy and legislative coherence, which will provide certainty and a stable base for growth and development;
  • Better balancing our economic, social, cultural and natural heritage needs, including re-imagining the role of protected areas, both state and others, in contributing to ecologically sustainable rural development;
  • Placing communities living with wildlife at the centre of our thinking so we focus on enhancing human-wildlife co-existence, and transformative approaches to access and benefit sharing for communities living on the edges of protected areas;
  • A renewed focus on transforming the ownership and management of the commercial wildlife economy particularly in the eco-toursim and authentic hunting sectors;
  • The ending of certain inhumane and irresponsible practices that greatly harm the reputation of South Africa and the position of South Africa as a leader in conservation; and finally,
  • Contributing to ensuring Africa’s coherence and unity in relation to conservation; sustainable use and management of these species;
     

We will be taking forward the recommendations to develop a Policy on Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable use and adopt a One Welfare approach for wildlife.
 
There are key recommendations to reposition and organise protected areas, simplify and make more effective legislative and administrative processes, as well as to improve cooperative governance. The Department will initiate processes to resolve these.
 
Transformation of the sector will be prioritised, in terms of improved inclusion of marginalised groups, especially communities living with or adjacent to these species, and in the role and influence of traditional leaders and healers in the wildlife sector.  
 
In terms of captive rhino, the Panel makes clear recommendations as to how partnership with private owners of rhino can lead to strong conservation outcomes for the species, while enhancing potential benefit streams. We have accepted that the country adopt the recommended positions on ivory and rhino horn trade, such that we will not be making proposals to CITES for further trade in these derivatives until certain conditions have been met.

On the rhino, these are based on the Commission of Enquiry’s report Option 3 as approved by Cabinet and the Rhino Action Plan and the development of a global consensus for legal international trade in rhino in the interest of rhino conservation.  As South Africa protects the largest component of the global rhino population, we intend to play a global leadership role in this.  For elephants,  although we hold a relatively small portion of the population, South Africa wants to play a key role to bring African consensus on ivory trade in the interest of ivory trade on elephants.
 
We will be initiating a participatory process, with recognition of the important role and contribution by private owners, including some major ecotourism-based rhino populations, to rhino conservation, to find win-win solutions to safeguard rhino conservation and broaden and deepen the bio-economy associated with rhino.


 
The Panel identified that the captive lion industry poses risks to the sustainability of wild lion conservation resulting from the negative impact on ecotourism which funds lion conservation and conservation more broadly, the negative impact on the authentic wild hunting industry, and the risk that trade in lion parts poses to stimulating poaching and the illegal trade. The panel recommends that South Africa does not captive breed lions, keep lions in captivity, or use captive lions or their derivatives commercially. I have requested the department to action this accordingly and ensure that the necessary consultation for implementation is conducted.
 
It is important to stress that the recommendations are not against the hunting industry. Preventing the hunting of captive lions is in the interests of the authentic wild hunting industry, and will boost the hunting economy and our international reputation, and the jobs that this creates.
 
Now that these recommendations are approved for implementation, they will result in a step-change, with the consequent benefits to our standing and reputation. Key to this is transforming the sector, reinvigorating the biodiversity economy through a focus on Big Five-based ecotourism and authentic hunting of wild specimens.  We will be partnering with the Department of Tourism to achieve this. In addition, mechanisms to improve benefit flows to restituted communities, as well as novel approaches to land-use planning, can enhance rural socio-economic development based on the wildlife economy.
 
The report provides specific direction as to how my Department can support the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development in ensuring the welfare and wellbeing of wildlife, which will enhance our reputation and stimulate tourism.
 
We will, therefore, be working closely with this Department and other departments in this regard. In relation to enhancing our international reputation, an engagement with SADC partners and the African range states of these species and the leadership of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation will be required. A multi-sectoral approach to implementing the recommendations is therefore imperative.
 
In summary, I believe that the report provides a platform for not only achieving policy clarity but also for the development of a New Deal for people and wildlife in South Africa. Implementation of the recommendations will greatly transform the practices within the wildlife industry, enhance conservation of our environment and these species, invigorate the rural economies, and empower traditional practices, leadership, and healers. Finally, implementing these recommendations will result in both protection and enhancement of South Africa’s international reputation, repositioning the country as an even more competitive destination of choice for ecotourism and responsible hunting.

As indicated in the report, there have been a range of processes over the years that have not been properly implemented, and have resulted in the compromised position that the sector is in. This time I intend that we will act differently. I have instructed the Department, to develop an implementation plan for the recommendations.
 
Work has already begun, on a draft Policy Position that covers the key policy implications of the recommendations, which will shortly be published for public participation. The Department is also initiating a process to develop a draft White Paper on Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use for consultation. The more administrative processes required by the recommendations are all being taken up by the Department, and I have emphasised to the Department the need for full consultation with both the public, as well as with colleagues in government.
 
Apart from releasing the report of the Panel today, we are also putting in place a programme of stakeholder feedback sessions to give feedback on the findings and recommendations to those stakeholders who made submissions and also to those with an interest in the Panel’s work. We will also conduct the required public participation processes in respect of the implementation of some of the Panel’s recommendations.
 
In order to assist me in the communication of the Panel’s recommendations and in the development of an implementation plan, I have extended the term of the Chairperson of the Panel, and a small number of other Panel members, largely the drafting team.

Let me conclude by thanking all those organisations and individuals who assisted the Panel in its work by making submissions and providing the much-needed information and analysis on the areas under review. Your time and effort have resulted in a substantial body of work that will guide us in policy implementation for many years to come.

I thank you.

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Coca-Cola rains in local communities

To remind South Africans of the value of water and the need to protect and conserve our country’s water resources, the newly appointed Vice President of the South Africa franchise at Coca-Cola Africa, Phillipine Mtikitiki, is prioritising key sustainability issues such as water stewardship.

“Access to safe water remains a challenge in many of the communities in which we operate in South Africa and we, together with our bottling partners, have made it a priority to improve reliable access to safe water, to protect our water resources and replenish the water we use back into nature,” says Mtikit.

South Africa faces a number of challenges when it comes to water, but Mtikitiki says:

Partnerships between government, the private sector, NGOs and communities can help to improve reliable access to safe water and protect our water resources in a world affected by climate change.


“We are improving the overall water-use efficiency in our manufacturing plants as well as along our supply chain, partnering with government and communities to assess, understand and drive effective, long-term water stress solutions and replenish the water we use back to communities and nature,” she says.

When it comes to replenishing the equivalent of the water used in the making of its beverages, The Coca-Cola Foundation’s Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) focuses on replenishing water into nature in key watersheds by clearing alien invasive plants. These consume millions of litres of water each year, resulting in water shortages permanent loss to an already stressed water system.

Since 2019, RAIN has worked with partners such as The Nature Conservancy, World Wide Fund for Nature-South Africa (WWF-SA), Living Lands and the Endangered Wildlife Trust to clear 3 400 hectares in South Africa’s priority catchment areas, helping to replenish over an estimated 15-billion litres of water into nature over the next decade. The programme also provided employment and skills training for 389 women and young people in rural areas of South Africa.

“Access to water is inextricably linked to the economic empowerment of people.”

Vice President of the South Africa franchise at Coca-Cola Africa, Phillipine Mtikitiki

“Water is a valuable natural resource whose management requires all our commitment and collective actions.”
This is part of the motivation for local bottling partner, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa’s (CCBSA) Coke Ville Groundwater Harvesting Project, which provides access to water in certain water-scarce, remote communities with limited economic opportunities. This has taken place in the community of Tshikota, Limpopo, with five additional community access projects planned for deployment across KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape in March.

The target is to deliver over 60-million litres per year by the end of 2021.

Relief water also plays an important part of humanitarian operations to bring relief to drought-stricken communities.
Since the beginning of the year, Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages (CCPB) has been working with local municipalities in water-stressed regions in the Northern and Western Cape, leading relief water operations to assist communities. This has been a lifeline for people in these communities that have, at times in the past few weeks, been without water for up two days.

Expanding on its efforts in the Namakwa and Karkarms district in the Northern Cape, CCPB is now working to provide water relief to Merweville, Laingsburg and Touws River. To date, CCPB has delivered over 3-million litres of water using the tankers it invested in during the drought crisis to assist communities as well as providing specially produced Relief Water in 1L bottles.

“We’re confident that through our water stewardship efforts we will continue to make a difference and protect this most valuable resource,” concluded Mtikitiki.

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South African gas start-up, Bluedrop, receives major funding

Financial close heralds start of construction of a modern state-of-the-art Liquefied Petroleum Gas cylinder manufacturing plant.

Bluedrop expected to create 110 direct jobs

April 2021 – Johannesburg-based South African start-up Bluedrop, has secured an R300-million investment from J. Sassoon Group, a US, Washington DC-based private equity fund, for their Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinder manufacturing plant, in the west of Johannesburg, South Africa. The project is expected to create 110 direct jobs during construction and 35 direct jobs at full commercial operation. Using the highest standards in manufacturing processes along with the latest technology, and raw materials designed to reduce carbon footprint, Bluedrop will be setting a new standard for South Africa’s gas cylinder manufacturing.

Among the many challenges facing the project was that Bluedrop was in a pre-revenue stage in an incredibly competitive and highly regulated industry. However, J. Sassoon Group’s solution-driven management approach complements start-ups’ strengths while strengthening their weakness by utilising its own global network. In addition to assisting with sourcing global engineering firms for the construction, J. Sassoon’s external consultants and accounting service firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), is providing consultancy and advisory services to the project.

Upon succeeding his grandfather as the chairman of the board, David E. Sassoon has taken a keen interest in Africa, continuing the family’s historical relationship with the continent, particularly South Africa. Bluedrop is the optimum start-up to reengage the African market. David E. Sassoon personally mentored and guided Bluedrop through the complexity of the financing phase. The firm financially engineered the mezzanine finance deal to reduce borrowing costs in addition to a twelve-month payment holiday, enabling Bluedrop to accelerate growth and optimise success.

Bruce Fein, J. Sassoon Group’s CEO explained that Bluedrop is the first pre-revenue start-up in Africa that J. Sassoon Group has invested in:

“Our focus is on start-ups, entrepreneurs and midmarket companies. Bluedrop is the type of forward-facing, energetic company we are looking for. We are confident that this is a value accretive investment”

Bruce Fein, J. Sassoon Group’s CE

.

Commenting on the transaction, Bluedrop’s Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Maduna said, “As an independent 100% black-owned company, we are ecstatic with the investment made by J. Sassoon Group more so for showing their confidence in us and South Africa as an investment destination.” Construction of the manufacturing plant is expected to commence in Q4 2021 and will take 12-14 months to complete.

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REPORT | Plastic: Past and present

Plastic is a complex material that provides value across several industries, yet its strength and durability have resulted in widespread persistence in the environment, threatening human health and the health of our marine, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. These negative externalities, once quantified, reveal the true costs of plastic.

SOUTH AFRICA’S ENGAGEMENT

Numerous global and regional initiatives and voluntary agreements have been established with different approaches to solve the plastic pollution challenge.

INTERNATIONAL STRATEGIES, PARTNERSHIPS AND FRAMEWORKS

Since 1972, South Africa has ratified several international treaties, forged partnerships and subscribed to legal frameworks to combat plastic pollution in its terrestrial and marine environment. This is giving South Africa a firm footing to voice its concerns in global forums, on the one hand, and gaining access to the latest environmental considerations regarding the combating of plastic pollution, on the other. Various initiatives and platforms exist, and this list is not exhaustive.

2019: The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, which South Africa is party to, at its 14th Conference of the Parties, adopted a decision to incorporate certain categories of plastic under its scope. This includes giving parties the right to prohibit the import of plastic at end of life as well as requiring parties to obtain prior written informed consent for the export of plastic of this nature. To be traded, waste plastic must be clean and consist of single or clearly defined plastic polymer types that can be recycled. Mixed bales of rubbish are not acceptable.

This decision obtained great media coverage and was a statement from the 187 countries to address the plastic pollution problem. Since then, the world has seen developing countries, specifically the Philippines and Indonesia, sending back shipments of plastic scrap and waste to countries of origin, including the USA, the UK and Australia.

South Africa became a signatory in May 1994. The Basel amendments will take effect from 1 January 2021.

2017: The G20 Action Plan on Marine Litter was agreed upon by the G20 countries (akin to the G7 Action Plan of 2015). The action plan includes a commitment to “take action to prevent and reduce marine litter of all kinds, including from single-use plastics and micro-plastics”.

South Africa is one of the G20 countries.

2015: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all UN member states. A blueprint for achieving this agenda took the form of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs that specifically relate to combating plastic pollution are:

• SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation

• SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

• SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

• SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities

• SDG12: Responsible consumption and production

• SDG 13: Climate action

• SDG 14: Life below water

• SDG 15: Life on land

• SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals

2014: Several UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) resolutions have been made on marine litter and microplastics from the first UNEA meeting in 2014. These resolutions called for strengthening the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) role in acting on marine litter and microplastics in UNEA-1; establishing the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics in UNEA-3; and addressing single-use plastics in UNEA-4. Resolutions also call for greater collaboration and coordination of efforts to address plastic pollution.

South Africa is part of the member states participating in the UNEA discussions.

2011: The Honolulu Strategy: Global Framework for Prevention and Management of Marine Debris is a voluntary approach to connect marine litter programmes and foster collaboration among them by sharing lessons learned and best practices. It is the recommended framework to be used for UNEP’s GPA (see 1995 below).

South Africa is part of two Regional Seas Programme Conventions, namely the Abidjan and Nairobi conventions, which places it in a unique position to coordinate initiatives through both platforms.

The Abidjan Convention is currently undergoing a regional assessment on marine litter to inform a Regional Action Plan to address marine litter in member countries. The Nairobi Convention completed a marine litter assessment in 2008 and is currently implementing its Regional Action Plan.

1995: The Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) was set up in 1995 and is hosted by UNEP. The Global Programme of Action aims to foster collaboration and coordination among states to prevent marine pollution from land-based sources and encourage action at the national, regional and international level. The programme operates primarily through the Regional Seas Programme.

1982: Part XII (Articles 192–237) of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) aims to protect and preserve the marine environment from land- and sea-based sources of marine pollution. UNCLOS is a comprehensive convention that covers virtually all matters relating to the management and use of the ocean.

South Africa ratified UNCLOS on 23 December 1997.

1978: The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) aims to prevent marine pollution from operational or accidental causes by ships.

South Africa accepted participation in MARPOL in February 1985.

1972: Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping Wastes and Other Matter (the London Convention) and the 1996 Protocol to the London Convention (the London Protocol) aim to control pollution of the sea by dumping and to encourage regional agreements supplementary to the Convention.

South Africa is a party to the London Convention.

AFRICAN PARTNERSHIPS

2020: President Cyril Ramaphosa is the chairperson of the African Union (AU) in 2020, presenting another opportunity for leadership in the case where the AU has also called on African cities to commit to recycling at least 50% of the urban waste they generate by 2023 and to grow urban waste recycling industries.

2019: In 2019 the African First Ladies took the lead on the plastics front by hosting two high-level side events. The first was on Banning Plastics towards a Pollution-free Africa Campaign, which resulted in the Addis Ababa Communique to advocate the banning of plastics. The second was on Plastic Pollution Solutions for Development in Africa to initiate the implementation of the Communique.

2016: The East African Legislative Assembly passed a Bill in 2016 to ban the manufacture, sale, import and use of certain plastic bags across its six member states, with a combined population of approximately 186-million people. A total of 127 countries have put into force some type of legislation to ban the use, manufacture, free distribution and import of plastic bags as at July 2018. African countries have been seen to be leaders in this regard, with 37 countries regulating plastic bags in some way.


TOWARDS A NEW GLOBAL LEGALLY BINDING AGREEMENT ON PLASTIC POLLUTION

The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) held in Durban in November 2019, saw 54 member states endorse a declaration calling for global action on plastic pollution. Among the options to be further explored was a suggestion for a new global agreement to combat plastic pollution. African governments have now joined the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Pacific Island Countries and the Nordic states in their call for strong global action on plastic pollution.

The South African Minister of the Environment, Barbara Creecy, holds the AMCEN presidency for 2020/21, which is an opportunity for South Africa to take the lead on several topics, including addressing the plastic pollution challenge.


THE NEW PLASTICS ECONOMY

The New Plastics Economy is an ambitious global initiative to build momentum towards a plastics system that works. It applies the principles of the circular economy and brings together key stakeholders to rethink and redesign the future of plastics, starting with packaging. The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment is a shared vision agreed upon by businesses, governments and organisations to address plastic pollution at source. It is led by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation together with UNEP to drive engagement with governments and other key players.

The New Plastics Economy also hosts a global Plastics Pact Network, which is a platform for multiple national implementation initiatives. Each national initiative will be aligned with the common vision outlined in the Global Commitment but will set national targets and develop a roadmap to suit the local context. The South African Plastics Pact was launched by WWF South Africa in partnership with the South African Plastics Recycling Organisation (SAPRO) and the UK’s Water and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in January 2020. It is the first national Plastics Pact in Africa and joins the global Plastics Pact Network.

THE SOUTH AFRICAN PLASTICS PACT – A FIRST IN AFRICA

The South African Plastics Pact was launched in January 2020 and joined The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Plastics Pact global network aligned with the New Plastics Economy vision. The first of its kind in Africa, the South African Plastics Pact joins France, the UK, the Netherlands, Chile, Australia and the Pacific and the European Union to exchange knowledge and collaborate to accelerate the transition to a circular economy for plastic.

The South African Plastics Pact is managed and implemented by GreenCape, with the founding members committed to a series of ambitious targets for 2025 to prevent plastics from becoming waste or pollution.

The South African Plastics Pact members are Berry Astrapack, the Clicks Group, Clover, Coca-Cola Africa, Danone, Distell, HomeChoice, Myplas, Pick n Pay, Polyoak, Palletplast, RCL Foods, SPAR, Spur Holdings, The Foschini Group, Tigerbrands, Tuffy, Unilever and Woolworths. Supporting member organisations include the African Circular Economy Network, African Reclaimers Organisation, the City of Cape Town, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Fruit South Africa, the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa, the Polyolefin Responsibility Organisation, the Polystyrene Association of South Africa, the PET Recycling Company, South African Bottled Water Association, SAPRO and the Southern African Vinyls Association.

By 2025, all members commit to:

• Eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative (reuse) delivery models

• 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable*

• 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled

• 30% average post-consumer recycled content across all plastic packaging

*In the case of compostables, this is applicable only in closed-loop and controlled systems with sufficient infrastructure available or fit-for-purpose applications.

To achieve these 2025 targets for a circular economy for plastic in South Africa, various activities are required:

• Some plastic items are problematic or unnecessary and need to be designed out.

• Reuse models can reduce the need for single-use packaging, while at the same time holding the potential for significant user and business benefits.

• All plastics need to be designed to be reusable, recyclable or compostable in practice and at scale, with a concerted effort on both the design and the after-use side.

By delivering on these targets, the South African Plastics Pact will help to boost job creation in the South African plastic collection and recycling sector, and help to create new opportunities in product design and reuse business models.

ALLIANCE TO END PLASTIC WASTE

Another global initiative is the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), which was founded by various global petrochemical companies. The alliance aims to raise funds in order to invest in developing and scaling up solutions to manage plastic at end of life, through education, innovation, clean-ups and investment in infrastructure in Southeast Asia. The fundraising and investment target is $1,5 billion, to be provided by the member organisations over the next five years.

Sasol is currently the only African-owned company which is a member of the Alliance.

AFRICAN MARINE WASTE NETWORK

The African Marine Waste Network is a project under the Sustainable Seas Trust. It aims to prevent marine litter at source by providing a platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing through its network of government bodies, industry and civil society. Its current projects include developing and testing marine litter monitoring guidelines in collaboration with UNEP, developing educational materials for schools, promoting enterprise development and providing research expertise in ghost gear and microplastics.

CLiP

The Commonwealth Litter Programme (CLiP) aims to support four developing countries (the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, South Africa and Belize) in preventing plastic litter from entering the marine environment. CLiP is led by the UK through the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and is funded by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

THE AFRICAN CIRCULAR ECONOMY ALLIANCE

The African Circular Economy Alliance is a project hosted under the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy by the World Resources Institute. It aims to share best practices, undertake collaborative projects and advocate for the circular economy between countries at a ministerial level. The alliance was founded by Rwanda, South Africa and Nigeria in 2016, and joined by Niger, Senegal, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2018.

Read the Green Economy Journal to find more articles like the one above

READ THIS ARTICLE IN THE GREEN ECONOMY JOURNAL ISSUE 45

©Text 2020 WWF South Africa Published in 2020 by WWF – World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly World Wildlife Fund), Cape Town, South Africa.

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Deputy Minister Fikile Majola on Special Economic Zones

Special Economic Zones will play critical role in Economic Recovery Plan

16 Mar 2021

The Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Mr Fikile Majola says the Special Economic Zones Programme will play a critical role in the implementation of South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan.

Majola was addressing Members of Parliament belonging to the Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour, on the progress of the implementation of the Special Economic Zones and the Industrial Parks Revitalisation Programmes which are both driven by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic).

“The Special Economic Zones Programme is expected to play a very significant role in supporting the implementation of the country’s economic and recovery plan. This is due to the fact that the SEZ Programme is at the core of the reimagined industrial strategy, which is purposefully structured to stimulate local and foreign direct investments. The SEZs are also going to play an important role in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement as we position our country to become a vibrant manufacturing hub of the  African continent,” said Majola.

Majola indicated that the implementation process of the SEZ programme requires collaborative efforts from all spheres of government to ensure that the roll-out of the programme was efficient, integrated and well-coordinated.

“It is only through cooperation at national, provincial and local government levels that we can successfully build an inclusive economy.  Inter-governmental relations, both horizontally and vertically, are important in us achieving the set objectives of the reimagined industrial strategy. The efforts of pursuing a coordinated framework through the District Development Model approach has presented an opportunity for the creation of a balance ecosystem for an integrated development,” added Majola.

He expressed his delight at the fact that the implementation of the new intergrated approach of ensuring that national, provincial and local government work together and share responsibility for the implementation of the SEZ programme was bearing fruits. He said the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone clearly illustrated the positive impact of the implementation of this approach.

“The success of the Tshwane Automotive SEZ has reignited the desire and the vision to turn the Gauteng city region into a single multi-tier and integrated SEZ. This is one of our recent shining examples of successful SEZs, joining the likes of Coega, Dube Trade Port and East London SEZ,” added Majola.

MPs learnt from the dtic presentation that despite the devastating impact of the pandemic on economies throughout the world, the value of private investments in the South African SEZs increased by R1.8 billion from March 2019 to March 2020 from R17.7 billion to R19.5 billion.

The number of operational investments increased from 129  to 143 in the same period.  It is expected that the number and value of operational investments will increase by almost R10 billion when the next financial year ends.

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Report shows that SA leads the way in public sector gender diversity

Kearney’s recent ‘Gender Equality Report’ provides insight into the progress of diversity in private and public sectors across nine key regions globally – South Africa, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, India, France, Spain, Germany, and Singapore.

While South Africa has the most gender diverse parliament with a gender representation of 44% female MPs, the private sector sees South Africa fall to seventh position with only 28.5% of women represented at board level in the JSE 40.

The gap between private and public sectors is attributable to national campaigns for women’s representation in the public life at the national and provincial levels as well as voluntary party quotas, increasingly since 2006.
The gender quota system, in place in its early form since 1994, undoubtedly helped by a forward-thinking attitude towards gender diversity explains why South Africa takes the lead in the public sector.

“Seeing South Africa take the lead against other nations in the public sector with an increasing number of women elected as MPs, is a positive sign of what can be done with the right policies. However, whilst encouraging, there is still a deep parity that remains within the private sector,” says Theo Sibiya, Partner and Managing Director for Kearney Africa.


% Female government representation by country

South Africa44.0%
Spain42.0%
Australia38.0%
France37.0%
UK34.0%
Germany33.0%
Singapore30.0%
US27.0%
India14.0%

Sibiya added that despite ranking seventh out of the nine regions analysed for overall board diversity, South Africa has the highest percentage of the very top-level female board representation with 14% of its total female board members occupying senior positions e.g., Chairperson and member of the C-Suite.
The report also analysed the sectors which showed the most promising levels of gender parity in South Africa. Of the 140 female board members across the JSE 40, 35% are in the Non-Energy Materials sector. Finance is the second most representative sector in South Africa and holds 25% of the total female board members, whereas in Australia, the UK, Spain, the US, and Singapore it is the most gender diverse sector.


% Female board level representation by country

France43.8%
UK36.0%
Australia34.0%
Germany32.5%
Spain29.8%
US29.8%
South Africa28.5%
Singapore17.3%
India17.0%


This year’s annual report demonstrates modest progress compared with 2020. Female representation in the private sector has increased marginally in the United States (1.2%), United Kingdom (3%) and Australia (0.6%), as well as in the public sector in Australia (1%) and the United States (3.5%), which had a record year for female representatives elected. India remains the least gender diverse country studied with female representation under 20% across both public (14%) and private sectors (17%).

Sibiya ended by saying “Over the coming years, it’ll be important that companies are held to the same standard and encouraged to bring more women to decision making roles.”

“Research has shown time and time again the impact women have on boards, it’s not only important to be inclusive but it ultimately leads to better financial performance.”

Theo Sibiya, Partner and Managing Director for Kearney Africa

About the research: Kearney’s Gender Equality Report 2021 was based on research using publicly available data across nine markets – UK, US, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, India and Singapore – regarding female representation at board level and in their respective governments. Board information was gathered using the support of Factset. 

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AECOM ranked No. 1 by Fortune magazine as World’s Most Admired Company in its industry

Premier infrastructure consulting firm AECOM has ranked No. 1 on Fortune magazine’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies in their industry. This is the seventh consecutive year that the company has been recognised on the list.

“Leading Fortune magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies list in our industry highlights our employees’ ongoing dedication, resiliency and innovation in delivering transformative solutions, especially amid the uncertainties of the past year,” comments AECOM CEO Troy Rudd.

“Behind our Think and Act Globally strategy, our professionals deliver exceptional quality services and technical expertise for our clients, building on our strong financial performance and creating value for all our stakeholders.”

AECOM CEO Troy Rudd

Despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, last year AECOM continued to deliver to their clients, employees, communities and stockholders, resulting in a strong financial performance that exceeded guidance on nearly every key financial metric. AECOM’s teams mobilised quickly and safely to lead the industry in disaster response and developed innovative digital consulting solutions that continues to increase engagement and streamline processes critical to economic and social recovery.

AECOM’s multidisciplinary approach makes them unique on the continent, ranging from cost management to quantity surveying, engineering and environmental services.

“Adding value to clients by providing them with the necessary solutions to navigate the current crisis has never been more critical.”

Darrin Green, AECOM Africa MD

Significant investment in digital innovation and remote working is enhancing AECOM’s flexibility and adaptability. This includes bespoke tools such as AECOM’s Environmental Engagement platform to streamline environmental documentation and stakeholder engagement. Their Virtual Public Consultation Tool enables virtual community engagement in an interactive online platform.

Together, these solutions provide powerful support to clients managing existing and future projects through the key planning and approval gates. “The end result is a much better understanding of what projects will go forward and where we need to relook at projects in terms of either budgetary constraints or different drivers due to the pandemic,” comments Green.

Additionally, as a leading Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) firm, AECOM last year continued to partner with clients in advancing sustainable solutions, set their own Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), approved emissions reductions targets and launched the Thrive with AECOM initiative to further their commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.

Fortune collaborated with management consulting company Korn Ferry on the survey of corporate reputations. The survey determined the best-regarded companies by asking executives, directors and analysts to rate enterprises in their own industry on nine criteria; from investment value and quality of management and products, to social responsibility and the ability to attract talent.

The complete World’s Most Admired Companies list and details on the methodology can be found on the Fortune website at: https://fortune.com/worlds-most-admired-companies/.

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