I am very pleased with the progress made within AngloGold Ashanti in understanding and assessing the risks that we and our communities face because of climate change, and the leadership role that we as a business can and must make in reducing our carbon emissions, and in working towards net zero. “Dr Kojo Busia
Chairperson of the Social, Ethics and Sustainability Committee
I am very pleased to welcome our stakeholders to our 2021 Sustainability Report. I encourage you to review the contents that we have shared with you here and also the additional materials, including data and case studies, on the ESG Transparency Hub on the AngloGold Ashanti website.
In 2020, as our Company and the global community were coming to grips with COVID-19-related disruptions and challenges, and even before vaccines had started to become freely available in many of the jurisdictions in which we operate, I wrote that the pandemic has re-shaped corporate sustainability agendas. The pandemic had demonstrated that companies that are actively concerned with environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters will be most effective in managing the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses.
Now, a year later, this observation has become a truism, but one that requires even greater introspection and consideration while providing a cautious optimism for action. We know that the pandemic has exacerbated inequality between nations and within nations; and that pandemic-related economic slowdowns have been in sectors and regions where jobs and industry are most needed. We also know that the pandemic has called on companies to step up and into roles that might previously have been thought to be the domain of government, and many of them have done so. A positive consequence has been the development of stronger and more symbiotic relationships between employees, unions and management; between regulators, governments and companies; and between companies and their shareholders – to combat the ravages of the pandemic. Indeed, a new genuine social contract has been engendered by this pandemic.
While the impacts of COVID-19 are by no means over, we take heed of the warning by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in its assessment of global risks that a divergent economic recovery threatens collaboration on global challenges. I would argue that this applies regionally too. The top risk identified in the WEF report – that a disorderly climate transition will exacerbate inequalities – is possibly the most pressing issue facing our generation and will determine the legacy we leave for future generations.
I have been very pleased with the progress made within AngloGold Ashanti in understanding and assessing the risks that we and our communities face because of climate change, and the leadership role that we as a business can and must make in reducing our carbon emissions, and in working towards net zero. Our First Climate Change Report, published in December 2021, provides a comprehensive account of our journey in managing our business in a climate-conscious way.
This report consolidates our previous achievements, while setting the strategic policy direction for our future “climate smart” action plans. Our strategy recognises risks not only to our core business, but also to our local communities, employees and the environment in which we operate. Beyond decarbonisation, our strategy will therefore address the impact of a rapidly changing climate on our business, our employees, and the natural ecosystems where we operate. We are acutely aware that, in confronting the existential challenge of climate change, our stakeholders would expect nothing less.
We also published our inaugural Modern Slavery Statement and Human Rights Report in August and November 2021, respectively, adding to our suite of focused reporting obligations. More detail is provided on how and what we report under External charters and sustainability indices, including the ranking of our ESG performance by independent entities. An important development during the year has been our adoption of compliance and assurance against the ICMM Principles and Position Statements.
Throughout this report you will see references to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that allow us as a business to collaborate with our social partners in addressing the main social, environmental and economic challenges we face. Our commitment to the SDGs remains firm, as does our approach to sustainable development in the long term. More and more evidence is being gathered to demonstrate that companies that consider ESG issues, not as an add-on but as an integral part of their businesses, perform better in the long run in a diverse range of metrics, including total shareholder returns.
This commitment to ESG principles also means that we have had to take difficult decisions as a company. Indeed, the past year is proof of that. But we have done so to preserve and protect the interests of the vast majority of stakeholders over the long term.
In this, and all other processes, I am confident that the Group continues to do the right things in the right way. As a strong proponent of diligent corporate governance, I believe that we have robust checks and balances in place at AngloGold Ashanti. The set of the leadership of the Company and in particular the Social, Ethics and Sustainability (SES) committee that I chair, ensures that we comply with the compacts and principles to which we have subscribed, and that we report on these transparently and regularly.
Another truism is that change is constant, and an annual accounting of progress is sometimes simply not good enough in our rapidly changing worlds. I mentioned our ESG Transparency Hub at the outset. Increasingly, this hub is updated on a periodic rather than annual basis and will reflect what we are doing to better mitigate the risks we face and maximise the opportunities that are presented.
While 2021 and the early months of 2022 have been times of difficult but necessary change for AngloGold Ashanti, they have also represented a time of following our core values, and embedding sustainability into the business for current and future generations of employees and the communities that we call neighbours. We welcome the engagement of our stakeholders with our report and reporting processes.