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Thursday, 7 February 2013

Embedding Sustainability in the Corporate Strategy

Source: GACSO
The UK-based Global Association of Corporate Sustainability Officers (GACSO) held its first event in Brussels last week.  Hosted by Coca-Cola, the “Who will embed sustainability at the heart of corporate strategy?” event brought together sustainability professionals to share their experiences.

Following presentations from sustainability leaders, the audience worked in groups to identify the key skills and competences of Corporate Sustainability Officers (CSO).  Applying sustainability in a business context includes turning ‘grey zone’ uncertainties into ‘black and white’ certainties for Corporate Financial Officers and technicians to help them understand and incorporate sustainability information into their reports, they said. 

Corporate Sustainability Officers say they need to be “pushy but nice” or “patient but stubborn” and showed that a CSO, as well as being a visionary, also needs to be a diplomat.  Patrick McGuirk, Coca-Cola’s Recycling Director and Mat Roberts from Ecosystem Services Landmarc were there to make the case.  McGuirk stated strongly “Without leadership from above, don’t even bother” and Roberts recommended that CSOs should know their business well and speak its language. 

The definition of sustainability was once again at the core of the conversation and depending on the sector they represented - business, association, NGO or academia - the participants argued for different variations.  Gwyn Jones from GACSO offered a short, easy to remember definition quoting Newcastle University.  “Enough for all, forever” seemed to sum up everything.  

Blog by Zoe Volioti

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