June AmCham Sustainability Forum: COVID-19 Implications

The June edition of the AmCham Sustainability Forum brought together BI’s Per Espen Stoknes and Rud Pedersen Public Affairs’ Gørill Husby Moore for a highly engaging, timely session on the effects of COVID-19 for corporate sustainability efforts. Stoknes and Husby Moore took participants through the rapidly evolving sustainability ecosystem – from public policy to investment – highlighting challenges, opportunities, and the heightened importance of cross-industry collaboration.

You can see a full recording of the forum in the video player on the right side of the screen.



Per Espen Stoknes – Associate Professor


Gørill Husby Moore – Partner

Towards Genuine Green Growth

Stoknes, who also serves as MDG’s first alternate representative to the Storting, took participants through the green vs. grey growth dichotomy, noting how important it is for companies to maximize green growth – the increase of economic activities/growth with a lower environmental impact. He took participants through several industry-specific cases, noting how COVID-19 has not impacted the development of green growth end-user innovations or ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) investments. In fact, he argued, these are still “taking off” and were not “punctured by COVID.”

Stoknes noted the importance of achieving genuine green growth (GGG), defined as where the percent change in the ration of value creation to resource use exceeds five percent. He highlighted Denmark and Sweden as countries that have excelled in this area, while noting that both the US and Norway have room for improvement.

Key to achieving GGG, Stoknes added, are policies and financing that can facilitate the development and adoption of green innovations. A critical component of these efforts include the customer. When Stoknes was asked what companies should do when they embrace sustainability initiatives more readily their customers, he noted the importance of pulling, not just pushing, customers to embrace sustainable innovations.

In particular, Stoknes highlighted how AmCham member Tesla excelled in this area, noting that the company did not try to push customers to embrace the product – instead, their vehicles had pull.

“They’re cool. They’re a status object. Tesla’s product is not just more efficient or sustainable – it is better.”

Before heading off to the Storting for a debate, Stoknes reminded participants of the importance of making it simpler and more convenient to choose sustainable products, in addition to encouraging AmCham to “keep up the good work” in facilitating important sustainability dialogues between companies across industries.

Sustainability in Times of Crisis and Peril

Rud Pedersen’s Gørill Husby Moore then took over, guiding participants through the complexities of sustainable policy and communications, highlighting how they have evolved in response to COVID-19.

Drawing upon her background as a foreign correspondent in Africa and Mexico for publications such as Time Magazine, Husby Moore shared her insights with a global perspective. She noted that before the COVID-19 outbreak, companies were rapidly embracing the concept of the triple bottom line – people, planet, and profit – with some even embracing another “p” – purpose.

Like Stoknes before her, Husby Moore noted that COVID-19 did not diminish the importance of sustainability. In fact, it only enhanced the importance of acknowledging science, noting, “You cannot negotiate with the virus or climate change. And unlike the former, you cannot self-isolate from the latter.”

Therefore, businesses must act. In collaboration with a Brussels-based colleague, Husby Moore developed three key takeaways which she shared with forum participants:

“Commit to a zero-emission plan, anticipate new legislation and act proactively – and, lastly, do not let perfection get in the way of change. Many let the fear of greenwashing lead to green hushing. When it’s real action and real impact — not greenwashing — let’s end the green hushing!”

To conclude, Husby Moore encouraged participants to embrace transparency and build connections to people, letting them into the decision-making processes. Research has shown that trust in science, governments, and organization increases when there is transparency in these processes.

“Going forward, these same citizens – your customers and your employees – will expect the same transparency from the companies they buy from, partner with, and work for.”

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 at amcham@amcham.no.