Tag Archives: Sustainability Forum

AmCham Sustainability Forum: A Legal Roadmap & Changing Climates’ Business Impact

AmCham Sustainability Forum: A Legal Roadmap & Changing Climates’ Business Impact

The latest AmCham Sustainability Forum convened on Earth Day at Selmer’s sun-filled offices. The first in-person gathering since before the pandemic gave opportunity for long-sought-after exchanges of insights, as well as business cards, for the participants representing diverse industry groups.

Presenters

Tone Sørfonn Moe – Associate

Nora Eikenæs – Associate

Jostein Mælan – COO Weather Insights

Following an introduction by Selmer Partner Øyvind Olimstad, Associates Tone Sørfonn Moe and Nora Eikenæs could attest to the complexity and rapid development of ESG and sustainability and related statutory requirements. Part of Selmer’s growing sustainability team, Tone and Nora expertly presented how companies can, to the extent that it is relevant to each company, approach the EU’s action plan for financing sustainable development, now included in the new Norwegian legislation “law on sustainable finance”, the European Commission’s proposed “Social Corporate Governance” directive and the Transparency Act, to name a few.

From a business standpoint, the different regulations combined will ultimately result in a more holistic perspective on ESG and sustainability and can be condensed to: Do good but also do no harm. Meaning, that even though a company receives a high sustainability rating on one of its initiatives, it must perform well on, and disclose all its relevant results to maintain its good standing. A common definition across borders will establish trust for what is considered sustainable for investment purposes. Although companies will need to allocate time and resources to comply, they will be rewarded if the markets work as intended.

Selmer_ESG
Image: Selmer

Digitalization as a Driving Force

StormGeo, a developer of weather intelligence tools, helps companies prepare for severe weather threats to protect people and assets by utilizing location-specific forecasts and twenty-four-seven access to meteorologists and data scientists. As Jostein Mælan, COO of Weather Insights proclaimed, “safety above all else!,” is the guiding principle of what has become a global company located in over 15 countries with more than 600 employees.

Mælan, who was affiliated with the company in its early beginnings, explained how extreme weather is on the uprise, with weather phenomena such as hurricanes becoming stronger in force. Operating at the intersection of climate change and digitalization drives StormGeo’s business, with meteorology propelling advancements of AI and machine learning for global models. Participants were shown a collaborative project between StormGeo and a leading construction and development company in Norway where a custom weather system was created, with the hope that the industry ultimately will adopt similar project management tools to ensure a more intelligent allocation of time and resources, whilst simultaneously ensuring the safety and well-being of employees.

Mælan then explained how forecasting the spot price for EU energy systems is part of their weather analytics services, providing much-needed predictions in today’s volatile energy market. As for markets in Norway, the North will continue to attract consumers of electricity, namely industries, due to the competitive price point. In addition to weather intelligence, companies rely on StormGeo’s ship routing services. With the reality of climate change that is upon us, StormGeo’s offerings are only expected to grow.

About Sustainability Forum

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.

Read more about our Sustainability Forum and please contact Margrethe.Harboe@amcham.no for interest in future meetings.

AmCham Sustainability Forum: The Emerging Landscape of Decarbonization and Sustainable Cities

AmCham Sustainability Forum: The Emerging Landscape of Decarbonization and Sustainable Cities

AmCham members representing a wide range of industries actively engaged in the latest AmCham Sustainability Forum, welcoming Georgios Plevrakis, Global Sustainability Director at the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and Stine Lise Hattestad Bratsberg, Partner at KPMG Pure Sustainability.

Presenters

Georgios Plevrakis – Global Sustainability Director

Stine Lise Hattestad Bratsberg  –  Partner

Decarbonization – the Greatest Challenge

ABS’ Georgios Plevrakis, joining virtually from Athens, explained how ABS, one of the world’s largest classification societies for shipping, marine and offshore assets, has pioneered work on mapping activities that will support the industry’s transition towards sustainable practices. Decarbonization is considered the greatest sustainability challenge of our generation, not only as it relates to shipping, but also other human activity. In the pursuit of a more sustainable industry, the company has established ABS Sustainability Centers around the globe, developing regional and localized skillsets to steward the sustainable agenda. Plevrakis presented sustainable shipping trends derived from COP26, with the overarching goal of net-zero by 2050, including agreements amongst the Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels (CoZEV), and for the Clydebank Declaration and the Methane Pledge, illustrating a widely shared focus amongst stakeholders to engage on a sustainable path.

Plevrakis showed how ABS has analyzed predicted trade routes through 2050, forecasting growth for tankers, bulk carries, and containers, and how each will affect the evolution of varying emissions, cross-referencing with expected emerging technologies. Following a “base case” scenario as defined by ABS, the conclusion is that the use of low- and zero-carbon fuels will have significant effect, however, it will not be sufficient to reach targets set by International Maritime Organization (IMO). For the industry, the targets for 2050 are to reduce carbon intensity by 70% from 2008 values, and simultaneously reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 50%. Incentives expediting sustainable development include IMO regulations, the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), local requirements and the Poseidon Principles, all operating in a complex compliance matrix. Assessing whether the current frameworks support the industry’s goal of carbon neutrality, Plevrakis was adamant that in addition to punitive regulations, incentivizing measures will make a positive impact.

The Power of Collaboration

KPMG’s Stine Lise Hattestad Bratsberg, who has gained international recognition for her work with the UN sustainability goals as a framework for strategy work, described how her work on sustainability is a topic that generates far more interest around the dinner table today compared to earlier years. She is a firm believer that a business strategy built around sustainability is a prerequisite for companies to be prepared to meet regulatory requirements and to thrive. At a macro level, KPMG has organized its sustainability work around strategy and implementation (core business transformation), reporting and assurance, and sustainable finance, with the latter becoming more integrated in recent years with businesses’ financial reporting. The key question that individuals and businesses must ask themselves as it pertains to sustainability is: “How can we be part of the solution?” and incorporating SDGs into the ESG frameworks are a useful tool. She then presented sustainability drivers as defined by KPMG, including investment trends, client expectations, and supply chain risks.

Sustainability challenges for cities are vast and growing, with two thirds of the world’s population predicted to live in cities by 2050. Hattestad explained that KPMG’s sustainability work is not merely driven by their conscience, but rather relies on facts and data. Through KPMG’s collaboration with Sustainable Cities, a comprehensive partnership is anchored in the UN program United 4 Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC), the goal is to establish contact with 10.000 cities by 2030. Importantly, when assessing cities through defined KPIs, solutions contain a commercial value proposition for the projects to be financially viable.

Hattestad continued by presenting the methodology for a collaborative pilot project conducted on the west coast of Norway. There, municipalities, local private and public businesses and, necessarily, politicians were engaged, aiding a swift adaption of regulatory factors needed to implement changes within water, sanitation, and wage gaps. Hattestad went on to emphasize the importance of daring to think and do differently by working with cross-functions in cross-nation teams in order to solve the great sustainability challenges we are facing.  

About Sustainability Forum

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.

Read more about our Sustainability Forum and please contact Margrethe.Harboe@amcham.no for interest in future meetings.

AmCham Sustainability Forum: Urban Mobility & Sustainable Devices

AmCham Sustainability Forum: Urban Mobility & Sustainable Devices

Convening digitally for the latest AmCham Sustainability Forum, participants welcomed Kathrine Strøm, Development Manager, Transport & Urban Design at COWI and Jonas Bergersen, Social Impact Sales Lead Norway at Dell as session presenters.

As a prelude, Kristian Noll, senior at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, presented key findings from his research report Fueling the Green Transition: The Scope and Impact of Norwegian Environmental Policy in a Decade of Change. A former AmCham intern and recipient of St. Olaf’s Rand Scholar Award, Kristian became aware of the prevalence of sustainability as part of social and corporate discussions in Norway. He posed and answered the questions: “To what extent are civil and corporate attitudes toward environmental sustainability influenced by governmental policy” and “to what extent do these attitudes reflect a genuine commitment to sustainable practices?”

Presenters

Kathrine Strøm – Development Manager, Transport & Urban Design

Jonas Bergersen – Social Impact Sales Lead Norway

Kristian Noll – Department of Political Science (former AmCham Intern)

Oslo’s Paradigm Shift

Kathrine Strøm from COWI presented The Green Shift in Urban Mobility, focusing on their green city and green mobility strategy in collaboration with Oslo municipality. COWI is an international consulting group specializing in engineering, environmental science, and economics. On the consolidation of varied consulting expertise under one roof, Kathrine remarked that she “finds the synergy effects we can make between us very effective when it comes to making a more sustainable city.”

Strøm described how, in 2019, Oslo was named the European Environment capital, providing accelerated incentives for the municipality to pursue environmental action. With Oslo’s road traffic constituting approximately half of Co2 emissions in 2020, an apparent opportunity to reduce emissions lies in reducing of emissions through traffic. For the first time in Norway, a public body, namely Oslo’s municipality, is dismissing the time is money paradigm as it pertains to transportation, as the roads are no longer merely designed around cars but also non-motor-driven transportation.

In addition to the strategy and design of Oslo’s urban roads and spaces, Strøm presented a project where COWI contributed to a more sustainable construction site, where building was performed with electric digging machines on cable and battery, replacing diesel engines, which consequentially meant a less noisy building process to the benefit of construction workers and city dwellers. One unresolved aspect of the project was that not all materials used were emission-free, and some trees were removed due to an intricate process of planting on such fundaments. Taking learnings and inspiration from this project, all buildings and constructions sites in Oslo municipality shall be emission-free from 2025. The named initiatives have contributed to a healthier, safer, more beautiful city to live in and visit, with less emissions and a reduction of flooding hazards.

Design Innovations and Consumer Responsibility

Jonas Bergersen outlined the goals, strategies, and design behind Dell’s devices, including their work with sustainable materials and packaging innovation, noting the need to make products as repairable and interchangeable as possible. Dell develops, sells, repairs, and supports computers and related products and services and has adopted new innovations at each step. Notable is their sustainable approach to material usage, including reusing and reforming metals that may previously have been discarded, and utilizing airplane carbon fiber surplus production in their devices, as well as ocean-sourced plastics. The goal is that materials, where possible, are reclaimed and recycled, and will enter a closed-loop system to ensure longevity for the life span of their products.

In addition to the devices themselves, another aspect of sustainability is to reduce energy intensity both when being built and when in use. Although sustainable packaging is an important step on Dell’s quest for sustainable offerings, the device itself constitutes the most energy required and represents a higher carbon footprint, making the significance of the device’s life span an important aspect to communicate to users.

In addition to Dell’s own efforts, they rely on their partners to support their sustainable mission and have made it a priority to educate on the importance of taking sustainable steps. Bergersen was also adamant about the responsibility that we as consumers have to perform our own due diligence with suppliers when procuring devices.

On a corporate level, the selection and discarding of electrical equipment can help companies reach their own sustainability goals if opting for sustainably viable solutions. “Don’t only measure the last mile” Bergersen said in response to client requests for device delivery to their offices, for example by EV’s. Such an initiative is positive; however, it doesn’t take into consideration the entirety of the device’s production process.

To conclude, Bergersen shed light on the world’s vast data volume, namely data stored in clouds, which is forecast to increase exponentially by 2025. The storage requires energy currently generated from non-green production. Again, we as consumers and individuals can help reduce data volume by deleting unnecessary files from the cloud to contribute to more sustainable energy consumption.

About Sustainability Forum

Future success is dependent upon running a sustainable business – for people, the 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.

Read more about our Sustainability Forum and please contact Margrethe.Harboe@amcham.no for interest in future meetings.

Recent Sustainability Forums

AmCham Sustainability Forum: The Energy Transition and Standardization of ESG Disclosures

AmCham Sustainability Forum: The Energy Transition and Standardization of ESG Disclosures

A diverse, cross-industry member group joined digitally for our first Sustainability Forum meeting after the summer holidays. Welcoming Tore Eliassen, Head of Department Energy Markets & Technology at DNV and Varg Folkman, Associate at BCW, a passionate group discussed the current state and expected developments within the energy transition and ESG reporting.

Presenters

Tore Eliassen – Head of Department Energy Markets & Technology 

Varg Folkman  – Associate

The Trajectory Towards Net-Zero

DNV’s Tore Eliassen described how the energy transition is bringing unprecedented change for all industries in the lead up to 2030. A seasoned professional in the field of oil and gas, and most recently renewables and sustainability, Tore is, in sorts, in his own transition. He opened by affirming that individuals, corporations, and governments must act to reduce environmental impact; the very foundation of the energy shift.

His team at DNV sees that gas investments are robust and will continue to be the world’s primary energy supply for years ahead, but that the number of oil projects and portfolios are decreasing, opting instead for a focus on energy efficiency and investment in low-carbon infrastructure. Internally, this is represented by DNV’s merging of their Energy and Oil & Gas departments into Energy Systems.

"Future energy projects must be able to compete in a world with a higher carbon price, and sustainable practices must be an integral component of the corporate strategy."

Tore Eliassen

Eliassen highlighted several solutions in the energy transition, one being improved efficiency – “a quiet hero,” increased electrification, the rapid growth of wind and solar energy and renewables. The hard-to-abate sectors will have to decarbonize and deploy carbon capture and storage, and green hydrogen is set to become more affordable. We will see data-driven optimization on cloud computing platforms to reduce the IT energy footprint and continue to see significant innovations in the maritime sector. The new normal for companies is the pathway to net-zero.

As it applies to Norway, Eliassen stated that the challenge now is “transforming the North Sea from an oil and gas wonder to also becoming a renewable energy hub for Europe.”

Standardizing the Standards

While integrating sustainable practices is crucial, so is being held accountable for their implementation and impact. To this end, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting has a key role to play. A comprehensive set of reporting standards is crucial to equal comparison across companies and industries, but the current 600+ different standards are anything but easy to translate.

"Traditionally, all you've needed to do if you want a better ESG rating is change your rating provider."

Varg Folkman

Large discrepancies can be found when comparing ESG performance reports, which then calls into question their validity and relevance.

Efforts to standardize reporting metrics are being made. The Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) was created by the Financial Stability Board, which assesses climate related systemic risk in the economy. The International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation (IFRS) foundation will launch the Sustainability Standards Board (SSB) at The United Nation’s Climate Change Conference COP26, and is likely to become “the gold standard” for ESG measuring. Five of the most widely used standards (GRI SASB, CDP, CDSB, and IIRC) are also combining efforts, guiding the IFRS when SSB launces.

There is, according to Varg Folkman, additional momentum moving towards standardized sets of rules, backed by EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. Of interest to attendees, Folkman highlighted that the trend appears to be towards mandatory reporting.

Looking forward, both Eliassen and Folkman stressed the significance of the IPCC report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) released in August 2021, and its reignition of sustainability urgency. The EU was also named as an important driver, building upon environmental policies over time with concrete measures such as the Green Deal and EU taxonomy.

Capture_BCW

About Sustainability Forum

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.

Read more about our Sustainability Forum and please contact Margrethe.Harboe@amcham.no for interest in future meetings.

AmCham Sustainability Forum: Ambition & Inevitable Change

AmCham Sustainability Forum: Ambition and Inevitable Change

Representatives from 15 AmCham member industries joined AmCham’s latest Sustainability Forum, as Founder and former CEO of OSM Aviation, Espen Høiby, and Per Hynne, Head of Public Affairs, Communication and Sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners Norway, presented their companies’ respective groundbreaking initiatives. Both leaders within the respective aviation and food and beverage industries, Høiby and Hynne underscored the responsibility their companies have in their proactive approaches to sustainability.

Presenters

Espen Høiby – Founder & Former CEO

Per Hynne  – Head of Public Affairs, Communication and Sustainability

Sky-High Innovation

Espen Høiby, a former airline captain and management executive for Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), has led OSM Aviation’s vast growth over the past seven years. The company provides aviation training and crew management services and was founded with the intent of disrupting traditional industry inefficiencies. OSM Aviation’s flexible model has enabled their clients to cut costs while increasing flexibility for employees – in other words, a more sustainable model focused on business longevity and employee satisfaction.

Contrary to general assumptions, the aviation industry overall accounts for approximately 2.5% of global carbon dioxide emissions. These emissions, however, must be actively addressed with efforts to lessen impacts. A new modus operandi has been “long overdue” for the industry – a sentiment that, along with the pandemic, has acted as a catalyst for technological advancements.

“This past year’s dramatic effect on airlines cannot be overstated,” Høiby acknowledged. “However, when the world does return to more regular traveling patterns, airlines will need to respond to customers – led by demography, technologies, and consumer behavior and expectations.” The answer lies in the emergence of electrification.

Forecasting the future of aviation, Høiby addressed environmental scrutiny and focus, aircraft electrification, new business models and urban mobility. OSM Aviation’s purchase of 60 electric planes from Colorado-based Bye Aerospace is one step towards revolutionizing training for pilots. With these types of battery-driven planes, operating costs are one fifth of fuel-driven planes, carbon emissions during flight are zero, and noise pollution is greatly reduced. “In 10 years, the way we move around will be completely different to what we see today.”

Ambition as a Force for Change

Per Hynne opened by acknowledging the Sustainability Forum’s evolution since its inception in 2018, affirming that it serves as a unique platform for sharing cross-industry best practices and as an inspiration on sustainability-related topics.

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has dedicated mounting resources to their climate and sustainable impact strategy, working on system-wide solutions since 2011. When addressing sustainability, CCEP works within six pillars: drinks, packaging, society, water, climate, and supply chain. Over the course of 10 years, Hynne has seen a dramatic change within key initiatives. Today, the company is acting on its Action on Climate Now protocols launched in November 2020. Their vision is a path to net zero by 2040, measuredly cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Hynne, large corporations need to be the ones driving change, as they have the resources and the capabilities to do so. Additionally, there must be incentives for leaders internally to promote sustainable practices. “What we see through the plans we have driven within sustainability over the last years is that ambitious targets are what drives the change.”

When assessing external value chains – including sourcing, packaging, equipment, customers, and communities – one finding is that 43% of emissions are derived from packaging, providing ample reason to explore optimized circular packaging solutions.

In 2018, The Coca-Cola Company launched the campaign Working Towards a World Without Waste. One way of reaching that goal is by collecting every single unit that enters the market, an area Norway excels through its depositing scheme. Drawing upon its strong brand, Coca-Cola has effectively replaced its bottle logos with the message “PANT MEG IGJEN” (deposit me again) on its 100% recycled bottles throughout Norway.

About Sustainability Forum

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.

Read more about our Sustainability Forum and please contact Margrethe.Harboe@amcham.no for interest in future meetings.

AmCham Sustainability Forum: Post-COVID Trends & Norwegian Solutions in the US

AmCham Sustainability Forum: Post-Covid Trends & Norwegian Solutions in the US

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.

 

Presenters

Anne Therese Gullberg – Senior Advisor 

Ute Borghardt  – Senior Vice President of Clean Technologies

In Alliance for Green Recovery

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.”

 

Sustainability as a Competitive Advantage

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.

The AmCham Sustainability Forum

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.

Read more about our Sustainability Forum and please contact Margrethe.Harboe@amcham.no for interest in future meetings.

AmCham Sustainability Forum: The Role of Business in Building Collaborative Solutions

AmCham Sustainability Forum: The Role of Business in Building Collaborative Solutions

AmCham Sustainability Forum participants gathered digitally for the latest edition of the forum, with Gard Special Adviser Kim Jefferies and Høyre Political Advisor Daniel Skjevik-Aasberg joining to address building collaborative sustainability solutions with the public sector, international institutions, youth, and environmental organizations.

Presenters

Kim Jefferies

Special Adviser

Daniel Skjevik-Aasberg

Political Advisor

Make It a Part of the Job – and Consider it a Part of Everyone’s Job

Jefferies, an American transplant who has played a critical role in Gard’s work with the UN Global Compact Action Platform for Sustainable Ocean Business, opened up the session by highlighting Gard’s sustainability work – both at the international and local levels.

 

Jefferies offered participants insights based on years of experience, including serving on the editorial board of the UN’s Ocean Opportunities Report.

 

“If you’re company is looking to get more involved, do some research and find out what the infrastructure is out there. For us, it’s been great to connect to the (UN) Action Platform for Sustainable Ocean Business – and the great thing is that they have additional platforms for other business sectors.”

 

Critical to success, Jeffries noted, is that companies cultivate a genuine culture of enthusiasm around sustainability. By connecting passion with expertise, companies can better engage in transnational sustainability initiatives.

A part of Gard's extensive sustainability work with UN Global Action Platform for Sustainable Ocean Business has included serving as one of the maritme representatives for the UN COVID-19 Task Force.

“One lesson we at Gard have learned is that its important to have expertise within the company, and you also need to reach into your organization and find those employees who are passionate about sustainability…and give them space and support. Make it a part of the job and consider it a part of everyone’s job.”

 

To conclude, Jeffries shifted her focus to Gard’s local, youth-focused sustainability initiatives such as Gard Our Oceans. For her, the dialogues and sense of community engagement fostered by such initiatives represent a valuable opportunity to learn from youth – lessons that can then be taken back to the company.

 

“Many of the young people we work with know a lot more about environmental practices and the importance of climate change than we do as adults, and we can learn a lot of them through initiatives such as Gard Our Oceans. In fact, this really gives me hope for the future.”

Make It a Part of the Job – and Consider it a Part of Everyone’s Job

Daniel Skjevik-Aasberg, who served recently as Unge Høyre’s First Vice President in addition to his role as political advisor for the party’s parliamentary committee for labor and social issues, followed Jeffries, drawing upon his 10 years of youth political experience to discuss issues such as private-public sustainability collaboration, engaging youth, and collaborating with environmental organizations.

 

To begin, Skjevik-Aasberg noted the importance of financing green innovation and climate friendly business projects, touting organizations such as Enova, Innovation Norway, and Nysnø for playing crucial roles in providing the partnerships and capital necessary to build a sustainable future.

 

“One of the most important measures we can take is to ensure enough capital for green investments on a long-term basis. That will help accelerate green innovation, particularly in terms of public-private projects, such as the Longship and Northern Lights projects, as well as the Tampen Hywind project with Equinor.”

 

He also noted the importance of working not just at the national level to develop public-private sustainability initiatives, noting that there is an abundance of collaborative opportunities at the municipal (kommune) and country (fylke) level.

From there, Skjevik-Aasberg discussed how businesses can better engage youth and environmental organizations, noting the truly incredible impact these stakeholders can have in concert with business.

 

“We love meetings!” he proclaimed, noting that inviting youth politicians and other youth groups to companies via meetings, “sustainability days,” and sustainability forums can spark engaging dialogues, raise awareness about corporate sustainability efforts, and even lay the foundation for collaborative projects.

 

Collaborative projects featured prominently in Skjevik-Aasberg’s tips for better engaging environmental organizations, where the expertise of environmental organizations and the technical competence of companies can come together to build scalable solutions with a lasting impact.

 

To conclude, Skjevik-Aasberg reminded forum participants of the tremendous influence companies, youth, and environmental organizations can have when they work together.

 

“Companies and the climate movement, when they combine forces, can greatly influence government policy…I think it’s better for businesses to use the engagement of environmentalists in a more constructive and productive way, developing new projects and furthering innovations.”

About the 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.

June AmCham Sustainability Forum: COVID-19 Implications

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.

Presenters

PES

Per Espen Stoknes – Associate Professor

GHM

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.

AmCham Sustainability Forum: Where Are You on the Corporate Sustainability Journey?

AmCham Sustainability Forum: Where Are You on the Corporate Sustainability Journey?

AmCham’s latest Sustainability Forum convened at Roche’s Oslo headquarters. Focusing on the corporate sustainability journey, the forum was kicked off by presentations from Roche Director of Public Affairs and Communications Hans Christian Hansson and ReputationInc Managing Partner Dennis Larsen, who discussed the diverse range of issues related to both communicating sustainability issues and better integrating sustainability practices across the entirety of a business.

Presenters

Hans Christian Hansson – Head of Public Affairs & Communications

Dennis 2

Dennis Larsen – Managing Partner

Sustainability at the Core

Drawing from his background as a foreign correspondent for NRK and an advisor for Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Hansson took forum participants through how Roche has put sustainability at the core of its business by making all of its employees ambassadors for sustainability and working hand-in-hand with both public and private sector stakeholders.

“From patients to governments, our stakeholders have extremely high expectations of us when it comes to sustainability. We can’t just talk the talk – we really need to walk the walk when it comes to these issues,” he remarked.

As the world’s largest biotech company, Hansson further noted that it was critical to have a deep local understanding when translating Roche’s global sustainability commitment across borders, a point he illustrated by discussing how different his native Northern Norway is from Basel, the Swiss city that plays home to Roche’s global headquarters.

“For us, it was very important to identify focus areas in Norway so that we could show our Norwegian stakeholders that we are a credible partner that shares key goals critical to the development of society,” he concluded.

Reputation Pitfalls and Rewards

Hansson was followed by ReputationInc Managing Partner Dennis Larsen, who discussed how companies can harness qualitative and quantitative analysis to build upon the “sustainability opportunity” by engaging stakeholders, building an influence-generating reputation, and leveraging that influence to drive transformational, systemic change.

“It’s critical to use strategic long-term thinking to engage the stakeholders that matter to us. If you want to reap the rewards of your reputation, you need to be bold and forward looking, actively engage with transparency, align your strategies across your business, and ensure you promote capable voices. Then you can truly drive change.”

Larsen then discussed how companies could avoid reputation pitfalls, noting the importance of finding the right communicative balance – neither under nor over communicating – and setting ambitious, yet realistic goals. This concept of balance carried over to his closing remarks – a stimulating exploration of how a lack of resources and competing priorities are the greatest barriers to change, and how leadership support is the greatest factor in transformational success.

The Sustainability Journey

At the conclusion of the presentations, forum participants then took part in dynamic roundtable discussion concerning the range of themes discussed by Hansson and Larsen.

“It is interesting how companies often look at developing country-specific sustainability and communication strategies, but then at the same time they reduce Europe to one big blob. By doing this, they lose the ability to leverage local insight to connect with a specific country,” noted one participant, who then argued for the importance of using quantitative and qualitative analysis to develop strategies tailormade for local stakeholders.

Another participant noted the crucial role of companies in driving change.

“We cannot survive without a sustainability focus, and it is interesting to be here and see how different companies and industries are looking at their global footprint and finding ways to contribute.”

The forum then ended, with participants noting their excitement for future meetings.

“Today truly delivered on my expectations – the presenters certainly provided a lot of food for thought,” concluded one participant.

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.

Forum Summary: AmCham Sustainability Forum – September 2019

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.