Mauritius is distinguished both by being a beautiful Indian Ocean island and by recent memory of that icon of extinction, the Dodo. But, as Karin Ireton discovered this week, the country faces some imbalances when it comes to attracting investment and the wellbeing of its people.
Mauritius is distinguished both by being a beautiful Indian Ocean island and by recent memory of that icon of extinction, the Dodo.
So, when Mauritian company directors met yesterday morning to talk about sustainability reporting it was with the realization that, as a small island state with a strong tourism industry, the impact of environmental devastation on their economy and their people would be dramatic but not equally recognised.
The government and private sector are working together on key approaches, including creating a sustainability index for the stock exchange.
They are seeking to position Mauritius as a sustainable island in the international community.
For Standard Bank Group, as a financial services company, greater focus on environmental and social risk management is a strong positive. The scrutiny that sustainable companies and countries place on themselves makes them much more attractive to investors and more likely to attract funds, because a company that is rigorous in its approach to identifying and managing risk in a holistic sense is much more likely to be still functioning and delivering value long into the future.
In sharing Standard Bank Group's experience on sustainability reporting, Karin urged Mauritian company directors to take a leadership role in determining the most material issues for their companies: issues in their control, issues in their sphere of influence and issues on which they would need to collaborate. From a reporting perspective there is much to be gained in starting the process of reporting on financial and non-financial issues in sustainability and integrated reports.
Standard Bank Group's own experience had been that there is significant internal and external value derived from good reporting.
The Mauritian Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Deva Virahsawmy, spoke about the government's five key Es: energy, environment, employment, education and equity.
These are key themes and highly relevant in Mauritius and so many other developing countries.
Corporate Mauritius has an important role to play in understanding, communicating and acting within that context, according to Tim Taylor, chairman of the national committee on corporate governance. He urged companies to make a good start.
Jane Valls, CEO of the Mauritius Institute of Directors, which hosted the event, urged directors to recognize that sustainability reporting would help companies recognize what is important for themselves. What would be needed would be measurement and engagement with stakeholders.
Better reporting would enable better decision-making and consumer choice.