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A call for a sustainable future society

Letter to The Nordic Council of Ministers

· Letter

To: The Nordic Council of Ministers
From: The Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future

In Reykjavík, 20 August 2019, we joined together and made a public statement about our shared vision and commitment to advance an economy where people and planet can thrive together. None of us could have foreseen the exact nature of the crisis heading our way; yet it was clear then and even more so today that the time is now to act on our promise. We remain as ever dedicated to build this unique platform to show the world the Nordic model in action. We outline our intent here and invite you to join us in co-creating a series of 2020-21 initiatives that drive tangible progress on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that align to the Paris agreement.

A call for a sustainable future society

Over the past century, global economic progress has successfully transitioned over a billion people out of poverty and brought several improvements in quality of life. Yet, development has been achieved at the expense of nature and the environment and many people have been left behind, vulnerable to sudden shocks to our economic system. The impact of the COVID-19 crisis will only emphasise prevailing inequalities and The World Bank estimates that the pandemic could push another 71 million people into extreme poverty in 2020.

Future development must deliver human wellbeing, economic prosperity and environmental sustainability. To achieve this, we need unprecedented levels of collaboration and innovation across society, coupled with measures that promote the responsible use of natural resources. Recognising the challenges, we understand that therein also lies opportunity and that the Nordic region should lead by example.
The “Nordic model” is built on economic and social policies as well as values of inclusion, equality and long-termism common to the Nordic countries. Nordic society is characterised by high levels of collaboration, transparency and trust, promoting close cooperation between government, business and trade unions. This provides agility and resilience when faced with a crisis such as COVID-19. The Nordic cooperation demonstrates how important international cooperation, based on common objectives and solidarity, is for economic and social resilience.

The Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future

Guided by the Nordic model, we, a group of Nordic CEOs, have joined together with you to accelerate our collective efforts and leadership towards the realisation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Climate Agreement and to trigger a broader movement for positive change. We, the Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future, join you as partners with breadth and depth. We collectively operate across industries representing revenues of more than EUR72 billion, 260 million customers and 150,000 employees worldwide. Joint action together through our industries and value chains can accelerate the transition towards a sustainable society.

Advancing action on climate change and promoting diversity and inclusion

The SDG framework is grounded in global consensus and we agree with you that it provides us with a North Star on the most material issues of our time. As agreed in Reykjavík with you, our first collaboration is aimed at advancing action on climate change and promoting diversity and inclusion aligned to SDGs 5, 12 & 13. To succeed in our common ambitions public-private collaboration is key. Our dialogue with you, the Nordic Council of Ministers, has been a valuable start. In the following we detail our core principles, own commitments and asks towards you, the Nordic Council of Ministers to join us in delivering the results.

Core principles

We, the Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future, agree to be guided by the following principles:

Principle 1 – Business with purpose

Equality, trust and transparency underpin how we conduct our business.
We uphold this principle by:
 Adhering to inclusion, equality and long-termism guide us in both prosperous and uncertain times;
 Respecting the rights of individuals, valuing diversity and inclusion and improving wellbeing; and
 Developing commercial strategies grounded in social purpose that incorporate social and environmental considerations into business decision-making;

Principle 2 – Innovation with impact

Nurture innovation in our quest to deliver positive economic, social and environmental impact at scale.
We uphold this principle by:
 Evolving our business models to deliver greater benefit to society and overcome collective challenges;
 Pursuing scalable commercial opportunities that positively contribute to society; and
 Collaborating internationally to promote technology development for societal benefit and the efficient use of


Principle 3 – Brave and collaborative leadership

Promote sustainable business as a force for good in society.
We uphold this principle by:
 Identifying and taking pioneering action through partnerships across industries and society to effectively address
societal and environmental challenges;
 Advocating openly for policies, principles and practices that make for a better world; and
 Encouraging open and inclusive debate and being transparent and honest about progress, challenges and failures.


We, the Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future, commit to:

Initiate or strengthen practices around the following actions by the reporting year 2020:

1. Climate disclosure - Disclose information on Climate Data through the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) or similar
methods. Integrate the recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
2. Target setting - Use verifiable methods and illustrating pathways that support the Paris Agreement
3. Assurance – Undergo external validation of key climate data.
4. Suppliers - Engage with relevant suppliers to adopt a proactive approach to address climate change.

Diversity and Inclusion

1. Gender balance* - Measure and report on top 3 management levels by using verifiable methods such as
Bloomberg, SHE index, Gemmaq or the equivalent. Individually set ambitious gender targets to be reached by
2. Equal pay - Measure and address gaps in equal pay through verifiable methods.
3. Training - Provide management and employees with training related to diversity and inclusion, covering topics such
as harassment, unconscious bias and inclusive behaviour.
4. Supplier engagement - Engage with suppliers to foster greater awareness of, and action on, diversity and inclusion.

*In the next phase we will look into joint action on diversity and inclusion that focuses on underrepresented communities beyond gender

Asks towards the Nordic Council of Ministers

We, the Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future, are committed to doing our part. In order to accelerate the speed of change, we encourage you, the Nordic Council of Ministers to:

Stimulate the transition to net-zero carbon societies - with a smart mix of government measures - to a level that corresponds to the gravity and urgency of the situation.

1. Incentives and regulation
Incentivize and de-risk sustainable solutions while pursuing policy that promotes the phase-out of carbon intensive
solutions over time. E.g. risk-sharing schemes between governments and business for sustainable energy investments.
2. Procurement
Public sector investment and procurement, which on average accounts for 15% of GDP in Nordic countries, is an
impactful lever for stimulating the development and uptake of low carbon and resource efficient solutions. Clear sustainability requirements, deployed systematically, are needed to accelerate the shift towards sustainable economic growth.
3. Private sector reporting
Incentivise and encourage the private sector to evaluate, report and act on climate related risks and opportunities. E.g. using the recommendations by the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures to improve preparedness and resilience among business.

Diversity & Inclusion
Enhance overall diversity and inclusion in the Nordic region with emphasis on gender equality and women’s empowerment through government initiatives and incentives

1. Transparency and Reporting
Measure and report on gender balance in top 3 management levels of public institutions and state-owned entities, for example through the use of verifiable methods, such as Bloomberg, SHE Index, GemmaQ, etc., and set a target ratio for 2030.
2. Procurement
Public sector investment and procurement, which on average accounts for 15% of GDP in Nordic countries, is an impactful lever to drive diversity and inclusion practices. Clear requirements deployed systematically are needed e.g. requirements to demonstrate policies and action on diversity and inclusion.
3. Equal Pay
Measure and address equal pay gaps in public institutions and state-owned entities through a verifiable method as well as to develop, and drive, gender-neutral pay policies. E.g. Equal Pay law in Iceland.

In order to expedite delivery, we ask that you appoint representatives to work with us in co-creating effective solutions and develop a pipeline of activities. We further request that we together build a rolling 18-month calendar of regular meetings to review progress, make public announcements, and engage in joint diplomacy on the regional and international stage.

Stockholm, 26 June 2020

Yours sincerely, the members of Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future

Jens Henriksson, President and CEO, Swedbank, Chair of the Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future
Odd Arild Grefstad, CEO, Storebrand Group
Birna Einarsdòttir, CEO, Íslandsbanki
Sigve Brekke, President and CEO, Telenor Group
Rickard Gustafson, President and CEO, SAS
Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO, Yara International
Mats Granryd, Director-General, GSMA
Henrik Andersen, President and CEO, Vestas
Eldar Sætre, President and CEO, Equinor
Allison Kirkby, President and CEO, Telia Company
Árni Oddur Þórðarsson, CEO, Marel
Tone Wille, CEO, Posten Norge
Topi Manner, CEO, Finnair
Kristin Skogen Lund, CEO, Schibsted

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