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New paper: Chinese investment should be used to promote strategic sustainability leadership in South Africa and the African continent

last modified Aug 18, 2015 05:53 PM
19 August 2015 – A new paper, authored by visiting researcher Han Cheng, investigates the local business context and sustainability drivers in South Africa to recommend how Chinese businesses can implement sustainability strategies and practices.

As the world's third largest foreign investor, China is increasingly shaping the global market through its private sector. In turn, the environmental and social footprint of international Chinese businesses is felt through the direct operations of these businesses, as well as through their global supply chains and cross-border trade. Africa, in particular, has attracted Chinese investment, and is now the continent's largest trading partner with bilateral trade exceeding US$200 billion since 2013. It is therefore in the interest of both African stakeholders and Chinese businesses to understand and resolve relevant sustainability challenges.

The paper concludes that Chinese companies need to consider sustainability issues through a widened lens, and adopt a more holistic and strategic approach to sustainability management, in order to manage unconventional risks in a complex environment and approach sustainability as a new lens through which to explore opportunities.


Han Cheng works as an independent consultant with environmental groups, academics and public bodies in Asia and Africa. He is most recently a visiting scholar at Yale University's MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, and The Energy and Resources Institute in India.

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