Africa’s first-ever continent-wide sustainability summit has been launched by Smart Procurement, in response to the increasing importance of sustainability in businesses across diverse industries and the key role played by procurement professionals in implementing more sustainable buying and sourcing practices.

This ground-breaking two-day event on 18 and 19 May 2021 will include a dedicated half-day mining conference. “Since 50 to 70 percent of an organisation’s sustainability footprint sits within their supply chain, procurement is well-positioned to enhance organisational sustainability through responsible sourcing and buying practices,” comments Christelle Marais, business sustainability specialist at IQ Business Consulting and Africa Ambassador of the Sustainable Procurement Pledge.

While not new concepts, sustainable practices are still in their infancy in many businesses in Africa. The summit’s theme is “Shifting from thought, to inspiration to implementation”, which reflects the importance of accelerating the adoption of sustainability strategies by organisations in Africa.

“The Sustainability Summit Africa 2021 will provide not only the business case, but the roadmap for procurement and supply chain professionals to leverage sustainability principles and practices to create shared value in their organisations, and to reap economic, environmental, and social benefits through the function,” says Pearl Marsh, conference manager at Smart Procurement World. “Procurement has a key role to play in creating shared value through implementing more sustainable buying and sourcing practices that create long-term environmental, social and economic value for the business, for its supply chain partners and the communities in which they operate,” she expands.

Tackling various topics

The topics and challenges that will be covered in the summit’s compelling programme include how to sell the value of sustainable business practices, both in the market and within the company, and how to convert a conventional supply chain to a sustainable one. The sudden organisational shift to shared value and the importance of this trend for Africa will be discussed, along with the role of sustainable procurement and supply chains in managing risks, building organisational resilience, and growing and empowering small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). The summit will showcase key technology trends that are enabling sustainability, including artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain. The responsibility of mining in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals is also on the agenda.

Many leading organisations around the world have embarked on a circular journey, leveraging circular economy principles as a key enabler for sustainable procurement practices. The hot topic of the circular economy will be examined at the Sustainability Summit Africa 2021.

The event’s keynote speakers are Sheri R. Hinish, Prof Thomas Goldsby and Dr Jaisheila Rajput. United States-based Hinish is known as the Supply Chain Queen. She is a global partner at IBM, working with supply chain transformation teams with a focus on building supply chains of the future that empower the human experience and create change that is impactful, equitable, viable, and profitable. Goldsby is the Chair of Logistics at Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee in the USA and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Business Logistics. Rajput is the CEO of Tomorrow Matters Now, value chain specialists leading the green economy in South Africa.

“The Sustainability Summit Africa is aimed at procurement and supply chain management professionals at all levels,” explains Smart Procurement commercial head Keshni Reddy. “All industry role players and stakeholders are urged to attend this important event – from chief procurement officers, chief supply chain officers, sustainable development executives and chief buyers to purchasing, transformation and supplier development managers, sourcing managers, commodity managers, category, contract and logistics managers,” she stresses.

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