Dr Patrick Baah-Acquah (PhD), gave a heart warming speech at Discovery ESG sustainability Leadership Summit,2022.

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Dr.Partrick Baah-Acquah (PhD), the CEO of Central Eagles Limited Banking / Finance and leadership consultant blessed this year’s edition of Discovery ESG sustainability Leadership Summit with mind-blowing speech on a topic

‘Repurposing the Business and economic systems to explore the risks and opportunities for resilience and sustainability’ .

The event was organised by Discovery LeadershipMasterclass in partnership with Tarragon Edge.

He started highlighting on how to Repurposing the Business and economic systems to explore the risks and opportunities for resilience and sustainability.

Promises and commitments have been made on reducing coal use and ending fossil fuel subsidies by many countries around the globe. Many inter-governmental agreements have pledged more climate finance for adaptation. The agreement recognized the need to support vulnerable countries that have suffered climate damage. There are other promises to end deforestation. Reduce methane emissions. Mobilize private finance around net zero.

For its part, Ghana has pledged more ambitious goals for renewable energy usage and emissions reduction in the capital, Accra and across the country. These all sounds good. But when we add everything up, the world is still on a path to a temperature rise well above 2 degrees Celsius. The world is already seeing the climate change impacts that include Storms, Floods, Wildfires, Displacement, and Damage to human health, economies and businesses.

We have a serious job of work to do. We must also not forget, amidst the focus on the climate crisis, that is one prong of what UN calls the triple planetary crisis of climate change, which include nature and biodiversity loss, Pollution and Waste. Together, they pose a huge threat to human peace and prosperity, World Business and economies around the world.

Nature and biodiversity loss:

According to UN 2019 report, Humanity has altered 75 per cent of land and 66 per cent of marine environments. A 2018 study concluded that this degradation leads to a loss of 2.5 per cent of many economic output annually. Accra and many cities in the world also experience pollution and Waste.

Ladies and gentlemen, we need urgent transformations in these areas to address the ESG risks. We must tackle the Earth’s environmental emergencies and human well- being as one indivisible challenge. We must transform our economic and financial systems to power the shift to sustainability. We must transform our food, water and energy systems to meet growing human needs in an equitable, resilient and environmentally friendly manner.

Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot leave these threats all up to the government to solve. We need whole-of-society action for a whole-of-society problem. We all need to take responsibility, in every aspect of our work and professional lives. Look, it can be difficult to make sustainable choices in a system that doesn’t encourage them. It can be difficult to refuse a good pay cheque on moral grounds when you need to put food on the table. But we all have to try. We need to challenge ourselves to live a more holistic life by following green guiding principles in our work and personal lives.

Effect of ESG for business and economies:

The ESG risk is a massive threat to profitability, so sustainability is in businesses own best interests. Even putting aside the direct risks from climate change and nature loss, for example, consumers are increasingly making choices based on sustainability criteria. No business that wants to stay afloat long can afford to keep backing the status quo.

So, how do businesses go about transforming their operations?

The first step is to start accounting for the value of nature. UN reports have   already estimated the value of natural capital – the planet’s stock of renewable and non-renewable natural resources. We are encouraging governments to use this alongside produced and human capital to give a true, inclusive measure of growth. The same applies to businesses. If a business is making money in the short-term, but damaging the planet in the long-term, it needs to reflect this in the balance sheet. 

The next step is to set science-based targets for nature, climate and pollution. This means adopting a time-bound plan to make operations net-zero. It means adopting circular models, to reuse and recycle as many resources as possible. It means being mindful of the toxic trail of pollution pledging to deal with it. Many large companies are signatories to the UN Global Compact – a voluntary commitment by businesses to implement universal sustainability principles. These companies need to get busy. Others need to join the movement.

The third step is to hold suppliers and trading partners to the same standards. We are talking about being comprehensive and holistic. A business’s internal operations can be squeaky clean, but if it is outsourcing environmental damage, it is still part of the problem – something that is even more important in our globalized world.

All of this applies just as strongly to investors, banks and insurers – because we need all investments to back sustainability. In the work of Unite Nations the world is seeing ever-stronger commitments on this front where more than 250 commercial banks worth US$ 65 trillion have signed on to the UN Principles for Responsible Banking aiming to align their businesses to society’s biggest challenges.

Members of the UNEP-convened Net Zero Banking Alliance have, since inception in April, grown to 84 banks, with USD 64 trillion in total assets – 41 per cent of global banking assets. A longer standing group of investors established in 2019, called the Net-Zero Asset Owners alliance comprise investors that realize they cannot decarbonize themselves unless the underlying industries they support also head in this direction. The Alliance now has 61 asset owners collectively responsible for USD 10 trillion in assets under management.

Those that are insuring our futures are also beginning to feel the climate pinch. The UN-convened Net-Zero Insurance Alliance now has 13 members with gross premiums of USD 565 billion are aiming to accelerate the net-zero transition by 2050.

We have more than 200 banks, covering 45 per cent of the global banking industry, signed up to the UN Principles for Responsible Banking.

Crucially, all these processes and commitments I outlined above need to be fully transparent, third party assessed and grounded in science. Why? To avoid green-washing. Green-washing is a cynical attempt to gain the financial benefits of a sustainable profile without doing any of the work. It has to stop. If the old companies won’t change, new ones can displace them. Young entrepreneurs can take advantage of the growing demand for green and sustainable products, services and companies. And we are in desperate need of new ideas and innovations. The good news is that we are seeing many youth-led innovations in Ghana, India and others. We have seen furniture from risk husk. Replacement of plastic packaging with jack fruit and banana leaf-based packaging. Processing natural dyes from withering flowers. All of these inspire a zero-waste culture and find solutions to deforestation and air pollution.

Personal responsibility:

Even if we green our business operations, take on the system from within or come up with something revolutionary, we have to carry the fight over into our personal lives. We all need to choose greener forms of transport. Adjust our diets. Cut our food waste. Move away from fast fashion. Buy second-hand, repair, reuse, recycle. Choose green energy providers when available. Put our money to work through ethical finance. And we must always remember that we have a vote. We need to get on the right side of history, and vote for the leaders who will do the right thing by the planet, and so by us.

Finally, Ladies and gentlemen, we clearly have a massive challenge on our hands. One that no nation, or company, or investor or individual can tackle alone. There is the urgent need to repurpose the Business and economic systems to explore the risks and opportunities for resilience and sustainability in the world and to make the world a better place for us all. If we all do our part, we can put humanity back into harmony with nature. We can find a way to live together on a planet of peace, prosperity and equality.”

He added that we need to patronise and    adjust our diet by buying second hand goods repair, reuse product and practice recycling  , and we have must always be in mind that we have a vote,and vote for the leaders who will do the right thing to improve our standard of living

He believes that Ghana is having a lot of youth led innovation and there is a need for us to take personal responsibilities to improve this initiative such as furniture form, replacement of plastic packaging and come out with something revolutionaryinto our personal life

Some of the prominent personalities who grace the occasion were Frank Adu Anim(Host)Dr.Genevleve Duncan Obuobi(host),Otto Canon (Speaker),Dr.Victor Abbey(Speaker)and Hon.Dr.Henry KoKofu EPA boss

The event took place at AH Hotel,East Legon,14th October,2022.

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