The Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future, an alliance of the leaders of the Nordic region’s leading businesses, met today with the Prime Ministers of the five Nordic countries to discuss a collaborative approach to addressing sustainability challenges.
(L to R) Kim Kielsen (Premier of Greenland), Katrin Sjögren (Premier of Åland), Stefan Löfven (Prime Minister of Sweden), Erna Solberg (Prime Minister of Norway), Antti Rinne (Prime Minister of Finland), Mette Frederiksen (Prime Minister of Denmark) , Katrín Jakobsdóttir (Prime Minister of Iceland), Birna Einarsdóttir (CEO of Íslandsbanki), Johan Dennelind (CEO of Telia Company), Sigve Brekke (CEO of Telenor Group), Tone Wille (CEO of Posten Norge), Árni Oddur Þórðarson (CEO of Marel), Odd Arild Grefstad (CEO of Storebrand), Mats Granryd (Director General of the GSMA), Svein Tore Holsether (CEO of Yara International).
The CEOs presented their vision for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through greater public-private sector collaboration and the transition to purpose-driven business practices. The alliance will initially focus on climate action, and diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
The meetings formed part of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ session held in Reykjavik, Iceland, this week.
Integrating the SDGs into business strategies
The CEOs are committed to integrating the SDGs into their business activities and decision-making, incorporating sustainability into their own policies and across their value chains.
Recognising that the 2030 deadline for achieving the SDGs is fast approaching, the companies are in particular looking at strengthening their efforts within the areas of climate change and diversity and inclusion. This will include:
- Identifying scalable solutions across their value chains to accelerate reduction of emissions and collaborating on joint emission reduction efforts with other companies in the alliance.
- Strengthening common reporting on diversity and inclusion, using the insights gained to share best practices across the region, and joining forces on actions to improve.
Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future was created in 2018 to inspire joint leadership and action towards delivery of the SDGs in the Nordic region. The industry leaders in the group represent companies that have collective annual revenues of more than EUR110 billion, directly employing more than 290,000 people around the world, with operations in 119 countries, serving hundreds of millions of citizens every day.
Companies represented in the group include Equinor, GSMA, Hydro, Íslandsbanki, Marel, Nokia, Posten Norge, SAS, Storebrand Group, Swedbank, Telenor Group, Telia Company, Vestas and Yara International.
“Equinor’s actions are inspired and guided by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Diversity and inclusion, as well as climate solutions are at the core of our priorities and the SDG principle of “leaving no one behind”. I am looking forward to our collaboration through the Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future initiative and engaging in constructive dialogue with the Nordic Council of Ministers, to speed up the pace of change and deliver solutions at scale,” says Eldar Sætre, President & CEO, Equinor.
“There is a strong interest in the Nordic region for collective solutions. At the same time, we’ve seen CEOs in this region are personally engaged in realizing the SDGs. All of the companies have strong track records in sustainable business practices, but these CEOs have seen an added value in committing to address certain areas collectively. I believe that’s a powerful foundation to drive change not only in this region but globally,” says Mats Granryd, Director-General, GSMA.
“Sustainable development is the biggest challenge of our time. We need to join forces and find solutions together. In the Nordics we have a history of strong collaboration between government and private sector to develop viable societies. We believe that The Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future can play an important role in this going forward. In climate change and diversity we are in a position to drive change not only in the Nordics, but globally – within our companies and the world around us,” says Hilde Merete Aasheim, President & CEO, Hydro
“The Nordic region has a history of collaboration, equality and long-term thinking. By building bridges and forming strong bonds between businesses and the societies they work in the Nordics have shown that they can deliver sustainable and positive impact. The Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future is an initiative focused on advancing sustainable development through partnership and respect for the Nordic way of doing business. By collaborating, not only across industries but across boarders Nordic CEOs will continue to put their money where their mouth is when driving progress on the Sustainable Development Goals,” says Árni Oddur Þórðarson, CEO, Marel.
"The Nordic nations are respected around the world for two things: business innovation and strong social systems. We can combine those two qualities through public-private partnerships, and, in doing so, meet the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. By working closely together, business and governments can harness the advances of the fourth industrial revolution to fight climate change and make workplaces more diverse. No less than the futures of our children and grandchildren are at stake - let's collaborate now and start solving those challenges," says Rajeev Suri, CEO, Nokia.
“The business world needs to see sustainability as imperative. Sustainable business models contribute to green competitiveness. The transport sector represents 15 per cent of global emissions, and as a key player within this sector we are both part of the problem as well as the solution. Climate goals cannot be reached without cuts in the transportation sector. This requires a strong collaboration between the public and private sectors, as well as between industries. We cannot reach the goals alone. Our hope is that this forum and meeting is one of many initiatives that will accelerate this progress. Together we are stronger,” says Tone Wille, CEO, Posten Norge AS.
“To solve the great challenges of our time, we need to join forces. This initiative commits top leaders of the most influential Nordic businesses to set aside competition and share knowledge about new business models aligned with the SDGs. As an asset manager, we see great opportunities in the alignment of investment portfolios to a sustainable agenda. The global capital markets are one of the most powerful tools we have in the fight against climate change,” Odd Arild Grefstad, CEO, Storebrand Group.
“The Nordic region is historically and culturally bound together, based on shared values and beliefs. The companies we as CEOs represent have brought these values with us when expanding into new business areas and markets. We believe that when we work and act together, we can make positive and lasting impact. It was this realization that made us form the Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future. With a focused commitment on two of the most pressing issues of the day – climate change and diversity – we hope to drive change both within our own organizations and with our respective business partners,” says Sigve Brekke, President & CEO, Telenor Group.
“When we announced Telia Company’s Daring Goals we knew that more collaboration is a necessity in building a more sustainable future, and today’s meeting, joint statement and commitment from the Nordic CEO’s and Nordic Prime Ministers is a big step in collaboration across the public and private sector. I am proud that Prime Minister’s from across the Nordic region have agreed with the CEO’s from some of the Nordic’s significant companies that collective action on climate change and on encouraging a more equal society is not only urgent, but also a joint effort” says Johan Dennelind, President & CEO, Telia Company.
“The Nordic CEO initiative is a very useful platform to form new partnerships across public and private sectors to look for solutions across the value chain. We have to transform the food systems, by increasing transparency and decreasing the carbon footprint. The world is under severe pressure, with more than 800 million people starving, two billion people lacking sufficient nutrition and one third of food wasted. We need a coordinated effort to solve these challenges,” says Svein Tore Holsether, President & CEO of Yara International.