Rogers Group Sustainability

Driving the Sustainability Agenda: Insights from SEM-Listed Companies Panel Discussion

25 Mar 2024

SEM Panel on Driving the Sustainability Agenda

 

The Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM) convened a panel discussion on March 15th, themed "Driving the Sustainability Agenda among SEM-Listed Companies." Esteemed industry leaders, including Thierry Hebraud, CEO of MCB Ltd; Guillaume Dalais, Deputy CEO of CIEL Group; Raoul Gufflet, CEO of SBM Holdings Ltd; Evita Fakun, Chief Sustainability Officer of The Lux Collective Ltd; and Philippe Espitalier-Noël, CEO of the Rogers Group, gathered to explore the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles within the corporate sector.

Acknowledging the ESG journey's complexity

In his dual role as CEO of the Rogers Group and chairperson of the Sustainability and Inclusiveness Committee at Business Mauritius, Philippe Espitalier-Noël delved into the complexities of the ESG landscape, emphasising the need for a national strategic alignment and framework to navigate these challenges effectively.   

He stressed that Mauritius is at a critical crossroads that necessitates alignment with international standards to promote comparability and increase the value of our business ventures.  

Ensuring our alignment with global sustainability standards enhances our appeal as a dynamic financial hub and establishes Mauritius as a prime conduit for ESG investments worldwide. This strategic positioning is essential for tapping into the increasing global demand for environmentally and socially responsible investment opportunities, thereby securing our status as a leading destination for sustainable finance.

Philippe Espitalier-Noël

Highlighting the steep learning curve for staff, decision-makers, and investors, Philippe Espitalier-Noël underscored the necessity for clear guidance and robust tools for seamless ESG integration into business operations.  

He also revisited Business Mauritius’ 2017 initiative to bolster sustainability efforts among its members. To address the broad scope of the UN's 17 SDGs, deemed too extensive for any organisation, Business Mauritius identified five key sustainability priorities to guide organisations in making a tangible difference, with the SigneNatir framework facilitating the implementation and operationalisation of these strategies. Despite ongoing collective efforts, Philippe Espitalier-Noël recognised the challenges of a lack of a unified reporting framework and standardised measurement tools.

A call for a national strategic alignment

The discussion also stressed the importance of government leadership and support in further facilitating the ESG journey for the private sector. A unified and clear strategy, with more supportive policies and frameworks, would help all the stakeholders to push in a common direction.  

Collaboration between the United Nations, the Economic Development Board, and Business Mauritius has already led to the release of the Investor Roadmap at the end of 2022. This could be used as a first step towards elaborating a national strategy.

The Rogers Group CEO pointed out that, "A rigorous ESG framework is indispensable for cultivating investor trust and securing investments, demonstrating the intrinsic link between sustainable practices and financial health."

ESG ratings, cost of capital, and innovative approaches

Philippe Espitalier-Noël addressed the growing attention on ESG ratings and their potential influence on the cost of capital. He noted the increasing scrutiny from investors and the challenges businesses face in meeting diverse institutional expectations. Despite the lack of direct financial benefits from higher ESG ratings, he remains hopeful for future advantages. He advocates for credible ESG reporting standards and a balanced approach that accommodates companies' operational challenges in the absence of a shared national strategy. 

The panel identified challenges and proposed innovative solutions, like integrating biodiversity indicators and natural capital into accounting systems. There was a consensus on the need for simplified yet comprehensive measures and reporting mechanisms to effectively align businesses with sustainability goals. 

Amid Mauritius' uncertainty regarding sustainability reporting strategy, the SEM's partnership with Risk Insights was praised as it offers hope. This collaboration aims to revolutionise ESG reporting standards through AI-powered tools, marking a significant step forward in transparency, responsible investing, and aligning Mauritius with global sustainability trends.

A unified vision for sustainability

This event marked the ongoing journey towards corporate sustainability in Mauritius, underscoring the collaborative effort needed to address ESG integration challenges. Under Philippe Espitalier-Noël's leadership, the Rogers Group is deeply engaged in this journey, convinced by the impact of committed dialogue and innovative strategies in advancing the sustainability agenda. The insights shared during this panel offer valuable perspectives for SEM-listed companies, pointing the way towards a greater sustainability agenda, albeit acknowledging there is much ground still to cover.

 

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