New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Francis N. Botchway
Chapter 8: Africa: From Object to Agent of Socially Responsible Investment
* Benjamin J. Richardson INTRODUCTION 1 Africa has been the stage for some of the most epic campaigns of the longstanding movement for socially responsible investment (SRI). Ethical investors were prominent voices in the struggle against the slave trade of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as crucial participants in the anti-apartheid campaign concerning South Africa, especially during the 1970s and 1980s. While Africa was essentially an object of, rather than an actor in, these ethical investment crusades, its seminal contribution appears often to be ignored or misunderstood in a movement that has tended to be associated primarily with the financial markets of Western Europe and North America. Africa has remained mostly on the periphery of the recent expansion of SRI activities worldwide, being neither a major market for social investors nor a rousing concern of the movement.1 It is vital both to recognise the African contribution to the evolution of SRI and to reflect on how SRI can play a more influential and constructive role in addressing the social and environmental challenges of the continent today. We need to appreciate that historical contribution, especially the anti-apartheid campaign, for it can help us understand how ethical investors should act when Africa is an ‘object’ of their benevolence. When international investors wish to advocate social and environmental reform in Africa, they must be mindful of how they identify, define and prioritise their SRI agenda, for what a social investor in New York or London might regard as ethically significant or relevant...
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