Global economists are increasingly focused on something called ESG investing. That stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. What it speaks to is the growing recognition among international corporate leaders that the future of business and global economics must adopt sustainability as a core value.
ESG is an investment concept born out of a recognition of certain stark realities confronting the people of our planet today. These realities include:
• The consensus among scientists that global warming is drastically altering world weather patterns in a way that will have widespread and potentially catastrophic effects on everything from food production/supply to energy production.
• The planet is undergoing a mass extinction of thousands of species of plants and animals.
• The global population will continue to grow, reaching a predicted 9.8 billion people by the year 2050.
• The deforestation of vast tracts of Old Growth forests, especially rainforest ecosystems, is resulting in an altering of the planetary ecosystem, including depletion of oxygen in the atmosphere, mass soil erosion across millions of hectares of land and crucial loss of habitat for plants, animals and man.
• The oceans of planet earth are suffering from increased deoxidation, increased acidification and the collapse of many of the seafood resources that billions of people depend upon for food.
What all this means is that “business as usual” is no longer an option. The old ways of exploiting the earth’s abundant natural resources to feed, clothe and house billions of people are simply not sustainable.
Observers with organisations like the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank and others say emerging nations are likely to bear the brunt of the calamities that will result if course corrections are not made in the way the international community conducts business.
Zambia on the Front Line of Change
The south-central African nation of Zambia is a prime example of a country that has already felt the effects of climate change. The most noticeable effect here has been persistent droughts that have wreaked havoc on Zambian agriculture and reduced the efficacy of one of Zambia’s most significant resources – its abundant natural supply of fresh water.
The reduction of water in Zambia’s vast system of rivers, wetland and waterfalls has been a double whammy. While scarcity of rain has caused widespread crop failure (and thus resulting in food insecurity), the fact that Zambia gets more than 90% of its power from damned rivers fitted with hydroelectric generation plants.
Savenda Group: “Together for a Green Future”
The multi-tiered challenges and headwinds produced by global events, both environmental and economic, are being taken seriously by one of Zambia’s premier private corporations.
Savenda Group, founded by self-made entrepreneur Clever Mpoha in 1997, is a $300 million annual revenue firm, perhaps best known for its expertise in logistics and supply chain management services.
But SAVENDA has been rapidly diversifying in recent years, entering an array of sectors that include agriculture, energy, IT, transportation, construction and more. The company has put forward a vision and mission statement that clearly outlines its commitment to an ESG investment model with a laser-like focus on developing sustainable practices in all aspects of its business.
In a recent statement, Savenda Group outlined its fundamental philosophy:
“Savenda is committed to supporting Zambia’s journey to a sustainable economic future. As Savenda continues to grow, it will continue to solarise its farms, produce sustainable fish farming practices, and promote critical equipment, such as the energy-efficient bulbs and solar fixtures currently being produced in its Lusaka factory.”
Savenda CEO Clever Mpoha said high-tech solutions will play an ever-increasing and central role in developing business models that are carbon neutral, focused on waste reduction, support green energy production (such as solar, wind and hydro) and growing foods in ways that use require less freshwater and fossil fuel energy.
Thinking Outside the Box
Savenda has unveiled ambition plans to implement some of the better-known solutions to creating a green and sustainable future. For example, Mpoha said his team has identified tracks of land that are ideal for the establishment of solar farms – vast areas that can be fitted with rows of solar panel installations that can generate carbon-free electricity.
However, true innovation is often less apparent on the surface. An excellent example is Savenda’s recent establishment of ZAMBIAFresh, a new model for agricultural production and distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables.
ZAMBIAFresh has established small-scale plots of land where “hands-on” farmers can grow significant amounts of fresh produce without resorting to the traditional petrochemical model of farming that relies on large machinery powered by diesel engines and supported by petroleum-centric fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides.
The food produced with sustainable growing methods further benefits from a highly efficient distribution model aided by smartphone apps that coordinate the delivery of fresh products to shoppers in Lusaka. In short, Savenda’s localiaed and small-scale agricultural model saves energy and natural resources both on the production and on the distribution side.
Keep in mind that transporting food over long distances – including importing food products from foreign suppliers – is a primary driver of wasteful energy policies. Long-transport of food is often coupled with even more expenditure of energy because it requires power-intensive support systems like refrigeration and warehousing, not to mention wasteful packaging materials.
SAVENDA = SUSTAINABLE
Officials with Savenda Group say its agenda going forward is focused on integrating sustainable practices across all sectors of traditional industry in which it currently conducts business, such as construction, mining and agriculture.
But many of the company’s future projects will be sustainable models built from the ground up that reflect the serious challenge of our times –- the race to save the global environmental ecosystem and to provide for the billions of people who will require food, shelter and energy in the coming decades.