Companies have a big role to play through investing in developing economies, especially post-conflict zones
In an extract from his new book Responsible Leadership: lessons from the front line of sustainability and ethics, Mark Moody-Stuart considers how companies can help sustainable progress in developing economies. Here, he takes the example of Sudan, and asks how investment and business activity from foreign companies helped during the traumatic period leading up to the separation of South Sudan. Later, he examines the value of clear state legislation and how voluntary initiatives, such as the UN Global Compact, can help companies frame their activity.
The direct local impacts of the China National Petroleum Company’s operation in southern Sudan was clearly positive in terms of employment, training and development of livelihoods both in the company’s supply chain and outside it, as well as medical care. The area was clearly sensitive, and without practical precautions and considerations there is clearly the possibility of exacerbating conflict – whether through impact of security, unbalanced employment, disputes over land or distribution of benefits. Provided this is handled carefully the main argument that critics can and do level at such operations is that, while the revenue does benefit the country, it also supports the state and its often suppressive security apparatus.
This argument came to...