KUWAIT: Zain Group, a leading mobile telecom innovator in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa showcased its regional experience in the areas of sustainable development at a roundtable discussion recently convened by the United Nations (UN) and the Kuwait General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development (GSSCPD). The meeting was centered on the role of the private sector as a partner in the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) through the country’s national development plan.
The meeting was held at the Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah Building United Nations House, and was addressed by Zineb Touimi-Benjelloun, UN Resident Coordinator who highlighted the critical importance of the private sector as a partner in the implementation of the SDGs. Dr Khaled Mahdi, Secretary General of the SGSCPD, also addressed and outlined the key aims of the Kuwait National Development Plan to achieve His Highness the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad’s State Vision: Kuwait 2035, and how the private sector can engage with the public sector to support its achievement.
The Vision aims for Kuwait to achieve regional leadership as a center for trade and finance, and to stimulate the role played by the Kuwaiti private sector in the development, education and training of young people. The Vision also brings into focus the importance of scientific research, which contributes to the economic activity.
Representatives of Kuwaiti private sector entities who are already active in the areas of sustainability and corporate social responsibility participated in the roundtable and shared their experiences in contributing to sustainable development. The participants identified areas where further support by the government could facilitate closer partnership on implementation of the SDGs.
Jennifer Suleiman, Head of Corporate Sustainability in Zain Group participated in the roundtable discussion highlighting how the company’s numerous operational activities and vision in Kuwait and beyond aligned with the State Vision: Kuwait 2035 and commented, “Zain owes a great deal of its success to integrating sustainability into our business decisions, incorporating social, economic and environmental considerations at the highest levels of decision-making.”
Suleiman highlighted Zain Group’s credentials with respect to sustainable development emphasizing how the company was geared towards uplifting social and economic benefits in the communities in which it operates, with a key focus on education, health, youth development and the economic inclusion and betterment of all.
Suleiman continued, “Our social, economic and environmental commitment, and desire to achieve our strategic goals, made us take concerted steps to support sustainability in the areas of innovation and to catalyze the transition towards a knowledge-based economy. We believe this is best achieved through the support of entrepreneurs, skills development, and capacity building among young people.”
Zain Group’s track record of initiatives, aimed at protecting the environment are consistent with the UN’s Global SDGs, and include a commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 2020. Zain Group in partnership with the GSMA, also participates in mobile efficiency initiatives aimed at helping mobile network operators improve their efficiency through global standardization with other operations from around the world.
Supporting aspiring entrepreneurs and digital innovation in Kuwait and across the region, Zain has also been a key partner of the MIT Pan Arab Start Up Competition for the past two years (even holding the 2015 final ceremony in Kuwait) and most recently sponsored the global MIT Innovate for Refugees competition. Additionally in Kuwait, the company implemented the Zain Great Idea (ZGI) accelerator program to steer the country’s youth into private or entrepreneurial opportunities. It supports and encourages young Kuwaitis to bring their most innovative ideas to life by acquainting them with internationally certified programs that will guide them to realizing their own creative ideas and form active businesses.
Part of the commitment entails that that Zain annually publishes a Sustainability report to disclose on transparent basis sustainability related topics. This sustainability report is partially assured by an external auditing firm using the guiding GRI framework with G4 indicators.
Suleiman said, “This Sustainability report is the embodiment of our commitment to be a positive influence on the social, economic and environmental sustainability of our communities, so we are keen to publish content publicly and in conformity with the framework of the UN’s guiding principles on business and human rights reporting.”
On September 25, 2015, leaders from 193 countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda and His Highness the Amir of Kuwait, joined world leaders at the UN to endorse the initiative.
Zain Group has always expressed support for the SDGs and as a part of the private sector Zain has a critical role in achieving the goals and the company continues to push towards its realization of the goals as part of it core business activity and value chain.