Old Mutual accelerates moves to build diversity and sustainability into SA’s future energy mix
Old Mutual remains at the forefront of the net zero and sustainability movement, consistently backing its plans with action.
Through Old Mutual Alternative Investments, the company has invested significantly in local renewable energy generation, making up almost 30% of South Africa’s total installed renewable energy capacity. With a firm dedication to promoting diversity and sustainability in the country’s energy mix, Old Mutual is ramping up its efforts to further accelerate these initiatives.
“With the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2022 identifying extreme weather, climate action failure and human-led environmental damage as some of the highest-impact risks in the world today, the time for action is now. Old Mutual is therefore ensuring climate solutions are central to its sustainability efforts, while risks are carefully managed,” says Portia Bangerezako, Head of Sustainability at Old Mutual.
This approach incorporates a measure of flexibility, which recognises the unique circumstances of the emerging market economies. “Our aim throughout is to sustain, grow and protect our customers’ prosperity. Our biggest contribution to addressing climate change is the way we invest the capital entrusted to us by our customers,” says Bangerezako.
As it stands, recent data out of Old Mutual’s recently published Climate and Sustainability reports show that investment properties contribute 73% of emissions, while 15% are attributable to Old Mutual’s employee-occupied properties.
Old Mutual Investment Group has also signed up to the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative, with a commitment to decarbonising its proprietary investment portfolios by 2050.
“This will include investing in renewable energy and low-carbon technologies and driving actions towards responsible decarbonisation through collaboration and advocacy,” says Bangerezako.
Old Mutual’s ESG investment solutions include a climate-focused, low-carbon investment product suite that is 40% less carbon-intensive than the Capped SWIX index of top 40 investable companies.
Meanwhile, Old Mutual Alternative Investments’ strategy to drive the energy transition to a cleaner energy mix will see more carbon-intense assets being exited over the next few years. During 2022, Old Mutual Investment Group conducted climate-related engagements with 53 investee companies with a total of 76 engagements.
“We will also be championing the development and issuance of green bonds and the establishment of low-carbon investment benchmarks,”.
While Africa has only contributed a small 3.8% to global emissions, the reality is that it stands out disproportionately as the most vulnerable region in the world to the climate crisis.
“This is why planning early and basing decisions on trusted data and real economic needs is so important,”.
While a common argument against the rapid transition to an alternative energy mix is the purported impact on lives and livelihoods, Old Mutual sees building sustainable local communities and businesses as integral to its ultimate success – and central to its planning activities in all respects.
“Our key community focus areas address the prevailing socio-economic challenges within the communities in which we operate,” explains Bangerezako.
In this regard, Old Mutual is actively monitoring both its internal operations and the external environment to gain a well-informed understanding of how it may affect customers and communities, to take necessary, and appropriate measures to address any potential impacts.
“Notably, Old Mutual recognises that SMEs are the backbone of the African economy, yet they face pertinent challenges such as limited access to funding, infrastructural challenges, pandemic recovery and more. Old Mutual is uniquely positioned to provide an integrated commercial service offering while delivering impactful solutions,” says Bangerezako.
In this regard, SME support to the tune of over half a billion rand is also being rolled out for transformation, innovation, empowerment, impact, and green economy investing.
Recent initiatives have seen 5,270 SMEs reached by Old Mutual, with R289 million committed to funding, mentorship, and capacity building for SMEs. Part of this includes contributions from the Group’s Masisizane Fund, which disbursed R102.8 million to SMEs across various sectors in 2022, creating 584 jobs in the process. Additionally, Old Mutual’s Enterprise and Supplier Development fund has approved R332 million in debt and equity funding to SMEs since becoming operational in 2019.
“We are committed to taking meaningful action to address the effects of climate change while delivering sustainable, positive investment and other financial outcomes for our customers, including much-needed financial education to navigate their financial futures. In building the most valuable business in our industry, we will continue to create a positive and sustainable impact across our communities, the environment and broader society,” concludes Bangerezako. DM
Old Mutual recently released comprehensive sustainability and climate reports for 2002, as part of its broader integrated reporting suite.