Sustainability is a licence to operate on the planet, says CFO Dilip Pal


What benefits the planet ultimately benefits customers and, in turn, businesses. These were the sobering thoughts delivered by Safaricom CFO Dilip Pal at the recent 78th United Nations General Assembly.

Dilip Pal, Safaricom CFO, delivered a pertinent message for all businesses at the recent 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), noting that sustainability is not a cost but a licence to operate on the planet.

He was part of a panel, focusing on Embracing Systemic Changes in Corporate Finance for Agenda 2030, at the UNGA Leaders Summit in September 2023.

Dilip explained that what benefits the planet ultimately benefits customers and, in turn, businesses.

Using Safaricom as a case study, he noted the pivotal role played by the telecommunications provider in Kenya’s economic development, directly and indirectly supporting over a million jobs.

According to Dilip, M-Pesa is an innovation that as reverberated globally, as the world’s first mobile money transfer system.

“It is a beacon of financial inclusion and has empowered over 30 million customers, enabling them to transact, save, or borrow money using their mobile phones. In doing so, it elevated Kenya’s financial inclusion rate to a remarkable 83.7 percent,” he said.

The company also actively participates in pioneering sustainability financing instruments, such as sustainability-linked loans, aligning financial success with sustainability progress.

“Safaricom is committed to democratising financial services and expanding access to underserved populations, reinforcing its role as a champion of economic empowerment. We also aim to cultivate a workforce committed to sustainability, recognising that its people are its most valuable asset,” he added.

Dilip is a member of the advisory board of the UN Global Compact CFO Coalition for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which was founded in March 2022.

The coalition aims to redefine the role of CFOs as architects of long-term sustainable value creation, a shift in corporate finance's impact on the SDGs, which address issues like poverty, gender equality, and climate change.

The coalition's ambitious goals included redirecting corporate investments towards the SDGs, engaging leadership, and nurturing CFOs dedicated to the CFO Principles by 2023, guiding financial strategies for SDG alignment.

With COP28 approaching, Dilip has further emphasised the need for global collaboration, advocating audacious climate action targets and increased financial commitments to achieve tangible progress.

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