Welcome to 2023! As I write this piece, I am nearing the end of my working year with my mind wandering regularly towards the beautiful beaches of the Eastern Cape that await me in just over a week. Last year was a substantially better year than 2020 and 2021 for most people and businesses, especially as a result of the impact of Covid-19 subsiding. We are excited about the improving economy and the increased importance of the sustainability agenda in the corporate world.

As I noted in my chairman’s address at the GBCSA Convention held in Cape Town at the Century City Convention Centre in November 2022, we have the opportunity to embrace a virtuous circle of improved economic activity coming off the hard-hit 2020 year, along with the heightened awareness and sensitivity of what we are doing to our planet and people by continuing to conduct business activity in the way that it has been conducted in the past.

The throw-away society mentality, fast-fashion and low-quality production, the massive and unnecessary generation of plastics, use of water as an infinite resource, and slow pace of change away from non-renewable energy are all being challenged. There is also a groundswell from consumers that are not prepared to tolerate this manufacturing mentality any longer.

We encourage the challenging ways of the past that can enhance our natural
world. Construction materials and processes are also being challenged to improve
our built environment’s impact on the world, an industry that is traditionally a massive contributor to carbon emissions at a global scale.

A highlight of this edition is the thought-leadership piece written by Shameela Soobramoney who is chief sustainability officer at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and a fellow GBCSA board member. There are so many standards in the sustainability landscape, and the JSE has tried to digest all the pertinent standards and create a set of sustainability and climate change disclosure guidelines, entitled Sustainability and Climate Disclosure Guidance, relevant in the South African business context. The disclosure guidelines aim to be more focused on impact than on an ESG tick-box approach. The work done has been well received by industry and has received a lot of positive feedback. Well done to everyone involved in this complex arena.

In this issue of +Impact, there is also recognition of performers that are certifying projects, a key component of the work that the GBCSA does.

The GBCSA is on track to perform its 1 000th certification in 2023 which will be an incredible milestone. It took six years to achieve the first 100 certifications, and another 10 years to do the next 900. What an incredible indicator of the success of sustainability in South Africa’s built environment.

Enjoy this edition of +Impact magazine.

Brian Unsted
GBCSA Chairman