Focusing on evolving sustainable business trends, risks and opportunities, the first Sustainability Forum of the year opened with Kruse Larsen Senior Advisor Anne Therese Gullberg. Thereafter, GIEK Senior Vice President of Clean Technologies Ute Borghardt demonstrated how Norwegian companies can increasingly export ground-breaking Norwegian environmental and renewable technologies to the US.
Gullberg, a former researcher at the Center for International Climate Research (CICERO), opened the session by describing how the importance of sustainability had evolved since the outbreak of the pandemic. Focused measures for sustainability, such as The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals and The European Green Deal, have laid the foundation for applied sustainability across industries. The focus on sustainability has not lessened since the onset of the pandemic, but has rather acted as a catalyst for accelerating existing trends that include digitalization and a sharp increase in sustainable investments. Despite unprecedented uncertainty, politicians, businesses, trade unions and policymakers have gathered in an alliance for green recovery, calling for progressive global climate policies.
Gullberg went on to describe how sustainability has become an integral part of strategies and processes in both business and politics. In addition, the scope of sustainability is broad, encompassing nature, biodiversity, resource management, and a circular economy. Social sustainability and environmental justice are also high on the agenda, particularly in Europe and the US.
Another trend Gullberg presented was that regulations pertaining to sustainability are becoming increasingly detailed and ambitious, and less predictable, leading to an increased risk for businesses. Regulatory processes can, however, offer significant opportunities to contribute and impact. Gullberg emphasizing, “The rules of tomorrow are written today.”
In Norway, there is a national framework that facilitates foreign purchases of Norwegian capital goods and services. Norway’s Export Credit Agency is constituted by GIEK (The Norwegian Export Credit Guarantee Agency) and Export Credit Norway (ECN), whose overall mandate is to promote Norwegian exports.
To illustrate GIEK’s success in exporting Norwegian environmental technologies solutions to the US, Borghardt presented Asker-based Cambi ASA, which by utilizing thermal hydrolysis technology, turns sewage sludge and organic waste into energy, biogas, and products. This technology was purchased by both the Washington Suburban Sanatory Commission and the Neuse River Resource Facility in North Carolina. According to Borghardt, GIEK’s role as guarantor was vital for the realization of the project since the parties were dependent upon GIEK’s risk-capacity.
Borghardt went on to explain the framework within which GIEK operates, listing sector specific initiatives, global initiatives, and international requirements, in addition to their mandate as defined by The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. Echoing Gullberg’s statement about increased focus on social sustainability, Borghardt also referenced GIEK’s focus on human and labor rights.
As part of due diligence, partnering companies are assessed by GIEK in accordance with a set of sustainable criteria. According to Borghardt, businesses are becoming increasingly aware that compliance with these criteria presents a competitive advantage in the marketplace and urges companies to strive for sustainable solutions.
Future success is dependent upon running a sustainable business – for people, planet, and profit. Hence, AmCham brings select, cross-industry member company representatives together on an ongoing basis to discuss opportunities, facilitate open exchange and determine how AmCham members can best contribute to Norwegian and US sustainability agendas going forward.