The Sustainable Development Goals: Redefining context, risk and opportunity across Africa

The opportunities for socioeconomic transformation that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) encompass will require active participation by the accountancy profession.

From ACCA: Countries across Africa are going through unique processes of economic transformation. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a roadmap for the continent to build prosperity that is ready for the future.

The private sector operating across Africa is at the forefront of delivering the 2030 Agenda. At all scales, from multinational to microenterprise, businesses will be interacting with the issues that the SDGs set out to build this new type of prosperity. Professional accountants will have a key role to play in helping business achieve these new socio-economic benchmarks.

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Interconnected challenges

Economic, social and environmental problems are coming together and causing countries to underperform in creating prosperity for their citizens.

To resolve these interconnected challenges means recognising that they are complex and multidimensional. And they demand a better understanding by governments, business and civil society of the contexts and systems in which they interact.

The SDGs provide a framework for understanding risk and the external environment in a way that is in line with the new nature of economies and the future potential for growth. The accountancy profession can take a leadership role in connecting the private sector, government and finance with the 2030 Agenda.

Professional accountants around the world can make a significant contribution

The role of professional accountants as strategic business leaders – with a unique blend of understanding of context, appreciation of risk, implementation and operational know-how, alongside technical and ethical competencies, leaves them well placed to elevate the SDGs so that they become a standard tool for measuring and activating success across government, business, finance and civil society.

New opportunities ahead

According to the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, across Africa alone, achieving the SDGs can unlock $1.1 trillion of market opportunities and generate up to 85 million jobs by 2030. 

Collaboration will be key for achieving the SDGs. Professional accountants must engage non-financial colleagues at work. They must also become more involved in wider understanding of the external environment and think beyond natural corporate boundaries. They must make the value creation link between new sources of data and analytics tools with SDGs-related issues and they must look to participate in wider networks to achieve results that create inclusive, sustainable value.

ACCA author, Jimmy Greer

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