Directors Duties and Environmental Sustainability in Africa: Attempts and Proposals for Reforms

Directors Duties and Environmental Sustainability in Africa: Attempts and Proposals for Reforms.


In an era of climate crises, widening income disparities, and environmental problems such as pollution and destruction of crops, there are calls for greater environmental responsibility. This is particularly true as the environmental impact of corporate activities has affected the livelihoods of communities in the continent, whose major occupation is fishing and farming. This has seriously threatened the attainment of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The unsustainable activities of many companies operating in Africa have been largely insulated by the shareholder primacy model of corporate law which dominates corporate legislation in the continent. This paper argues that the current governance model lacks the capacity to change the behaviour of directors and encourage consideration of environmental concerns. They have failed to transition corporations unto a sustainable path.

Using Nigeria and South Africa as case studies this research aims to investigate the potential expansion of directors’ duty ‘to act in good faith in the best interests of the company’ so that consideration of the environment is brought within the ambit of directors’ duties across corporate regulation in Africa. The paper concludes that although a one size fits all approach does not apply to all jurisdictions, lessons from Nigeria and South Africa can serve as examples to represent many problems that are commonly shared by developing countries. Regarding extractive industries, the paper argues that the sustainability of the environment has become so crucial that the standard models will no longer meet requirements. The current threats, which have been addressed by recent COPs means that a radical rethink is called for, one that puts even the multiple and sometimes divergent interests of stakeholders behind the single interest of environmental sustainability. The seminar concludes by suggesting an alternative to the two dominant models, shareholder primacy and stakeholder model, one which slightly puts the environment above all other considerations.

Event practicalities and joining details

The seminar will be moderated by Dr Colin Mackie, School of Law, University of Leeds.

All welcome. This is a free event, though registration is required via Eventbrite.

Joining instructions will be sent 24 hours before the event via email once you have registered.