International lawyer Jacqueline Musiitwa, the founder and director of Kalene Hill Resources, speaks to Tom Pearson, Africa Legal’s Chief Commercial Officer, in a podcast introducing the Extractives GC Forum on June 29 and 30.
Jacqueline is a global expert in African commercial affairs working across jurisdictions. Her unique insights into the complexities and challenges of the extractives sectors and their impact on developing world environments has her well placed to co-chair the upcoming virtual forum.
In this podcast discussion she said that while mining and oil and gas were facing many challenges, the single most pressing issue was the environment. The upcoming forum offered an opportunity for lawyers working in these sectors to reflect on how to meet this challenge and chart a way forward.
Whether this reflection fell under the broader rubric of Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) or was more focussed on the upcoming COP 26, the way things were done and the impact this was having on the broader environment had to be challenged.
“This could be in relation to the sectors’ carbon footprint or asking what it means to coexist with nature,” Jacqueline said.
“Both mining and oil and gas have not been viewed in the best light and there is now a huge opportunity for the sectors to come clean and demonstrate what they are doing to get to ‘net neutrality’.”
Tom asked what changes could motivate these sectors to move to a commitment to deal with environmental issues.
Jacqueline highlighted how there was growing pressure on investors to “do the right thing with their money” – and this was important because without the threat of losing money, there was a tendency to “always take the slow approach”.
Consumers too wanted to know the route products or food had taken to market so that they could spend in ways that supported the best interests of the broader social and natural world.
The discussion moved to the social impact of mining and oil and gas extraction and Jacqueline explained that while communities had been vocal for a long time on the impact of these sectors on their worlds, companies were, at last, starting to hear their voices.
It was now that Africa’s lawyers needed to sit up as their role was changing from one that simply offered legal advice to one where they had to provide guidance on regulation, risk and governance at the local, national and global level.
“African lawyers need to stay on top of current trends in their field across the world, not just in their own jurisdiction…By staying on top of the trends and knowing what is happening in other places, lawyers have the opportunity to provide great value to their clients,” she said.
It was an exciting time for lawyers as they were the go-to professionals on the continent with the power to shape outcomes that would impact the lives of all Africans.
The forum is being hosted by Africa Legal with the Africa Oil Week and Investing in African Mining Indaba.
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