JSE CEO Leila Fourie on sustainability, digitalisation and de-globalisation

Sustainability, digitisation and deglobalisation have been at the top of the agenda at the World Economic Forum. This is an update from the CEO of the JSE, Dr Leila Fourie.

Leila Fourie on the key takeaways from Davos 2022

We’ve heard a lot about sustainability. I would say probably 50% of the sessions are on carbon credits, responsible investing and on sustainability. I sat in on a private session with John Kerry and [many] of the leaders in finance and they were very knowledgeable about that field. There is a very heavy focus on digitisation, the metaverse, the importance of geospatial data, the additional values of transformation and the expansion of the investment Google is putting into expanding language data. And then also globalisation. There is a sense that corridor rails are going to be changing and that relationships will be shifting. Although some relationships will be removed, I don’t think we’ll see a complete deglobalisation. And, of course, there is a major focus on the geopolitical tensions and inflation.

On balancing the focus of global issues

There is a tendency to focus on the here and now. What the West has done very well is to focus on those long-term issues that are salient, regardless of current macroeconomic or geopolitical situations. So, the long-termism and responsibility of leaders to contemplate and consider climate change is becoming entrenched. I’ve been personally quite impressed by the level of knowledge of all of the CEOs on this topic at a technical level.

On whether South Africa is paying enough attention to climate change and sustainability

It is growing. In fact, John Kerry mentioned the South African $8.5bn package and all eyes are on South Africa. It will be important for us to make a success of that investment but I think we have a long way to go.

On improving digitisation

We spent a week looking at digitisation, digitised assets and even into crypto. So, we will certainly be contemplating how we improve our digitisation. We will continue to expand our sustainability footprint and the work that we are doing. We’ve built a number of very good relationships globally at this conference, which we will continue to build on, and we will certainly continue to partner and collaborate with our peer exchanges. They are all represented here, and it has been an excellent platform for sharing knowledge. 

On the key challenges

The key challenges that everybody is facing are really around sustainability. How do you enable a sustainable practice within reporting frameworks; and all exchanges and financial institutions are putting their heads together on that. Digitisation, distribution of data and the improved usage of data and monetisation of data is a key area. And then marrying the alternative forms of assets that are starting to arise with traditional assets obviously a key focus.

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