A sustainable future is non-negotiable if South Africa is to solve problems such as poverty and inequality, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Friday.

“The environment does matter,” he said at a UN Global Compact Network SA event.

“It is important that issues of the environment and sustainability are put firmly on our national agenda as different stakeholders to accumulate a national response to all of these challenges that we are focusing on.”

Gigaba said businesses could no longer be driven by profit without considering the environment and societies in which they existed.

He said it was important for countries in Africa to sign up to the Global Compact, because of the enormous challenges facing the continent. South Africa had to take the lead on matters of sustainability.

Through the National Business Initiative, companies sign up to 10 sustainability principles in the UN Global Compact Network SA. Signatories then have to make labour, the environment, human rights, skills development, and anti-corruption part of their strategy. - Sapa