Forum Summary: Q3 AmCham Sustainability Forum - September 2019

A Sustainable Role Model

AmCham Sustainability Forum participants gathered at Orkla’s Oslo headquarters for the Q3 edition of the forum, which included presentations from Orkla’s Ellen Behrens and Oslo Business Region’s Claire McAree. Attendees discussed how companies can develop innovative, future-oriented sustainability strategies, underlining the importance of leadership and talent recruitment in meeting sustainability challenges along the way.

Behrens, Orkla’s Vice President for Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, opened the session with a presentation highlighting Orkla’s current sustainability strategy and how that strategy will continue to grow and evolve towards 2025. She drew attention to the fact that all Orkla units have individual sustainability managers capable of drawing upon their unique knowledge to develop sustainability strategies specifically tailored to their units.

Behrens then turned to the four pillars of Orkla’s sustainability platform: sustainable raw materials, sustainable packaging, health & wellness, and climate impact. She then discussed how Orkla will continue to ambitiously integrate these four pillars across the business over the next five years, a strategy that includes both making their existing portfolio more sustainable and launching exciting lines such as Klar, a series of sustainable household products.

Behrens was followed by Claire McAree, Senior Project Manager for the Oslo European Green Capital Business Program at Oslo Business Region, who discussed the importance of Oslo as a sustainable role model for urban economic ecosystems across the world. McAree, building off of Oslo Business Region’s 2019 Oslo State of City report (Link), highlighted how the city is quickly building a reputation for environmentally friendly business practices and noted the important role programs such as the European Green Capital Mentoring Program and their Industry Challenge program are playing in attracting green FDI to Oslo.

The Norwegian Sustainability Advantage

Inspired by Behrens’ and McAree’s presentations, participants then began the roundtable portion of the forum by discussing the “Norwegian sustainability advantage.” As a high-tech, knowledge-rich, and innovative country, forum participants agreed that Norway well-positioned to be a leader in tomorrow’s green economy. Attending leaders, however, argued that these good conditions alone are not enough to make a difference – corporate leaders, they noted, will need to act decisively. “You need to be bold and actually do something with sustainability,” said one participant, going on to conclude, “if you are not bold, you won’t solve sustainability challenges!”

Attendees concluded by shifting their focus from the boardroom to recruiting young talent, highlighting how a company’s “sustainability culture” can play a critical role in attracting and retaining promising young professionals. One participant added that, “Companies with strong sustainability profiles simply get a wider range of better qualified applicants, something I think connected to the fact that 60% of young professionals see contributing to society as the most desirable trait in a potential employer.”

About the AmCham Sustainability Forum

Many AmCham companies have been on the sustainability journey for some time, while others are trying to find their way to a sustainable future. Though our members are represented through the full spectrum, we know that several are at the forefront within their respective industries.

Hence, AmCham brings select, cross-industry member company representatives together on a quarterly basis to discuss opportunities, share best practices and find out how AmCham members can play a role in the Norwegian sustainability agenda going forward. Read more about our Sustainability forum here, and please contact us for interest in future forums.