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Join us for Impactful Action, A New Year’s Message from our Executive Director

Thursday, January 2, 2020

By Stefan Crets, Executive Director

Climate change is a risk factor that cannot be solved by a single company alone.  It requires collaboration between companies and their sector associations as well as dialogue with EU Leaders and civil society. For this reason, in 2020 CSR Europe will build a Pact 4 Sustainable Industry that will support the von der Leyen’s Commission in implementing the European Green Deal. Companies interested in obtaining key insights and discover best practices on sustainability management to scale-up impactful solutions are invited to check our 2020 Calendar of Events.

Our changing climate is a risk factor for humanity. While we are all aware of it, we need to urgently act. There are many meetings and gatherings happening in the world where heads of states and governments, leading CEOs, sustainability executives and non-governmental organisations meet to discuss the current situation. In December last year, we had the 25th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) while the World Economic Forum in Davos is approaching soon. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as well as the G20, all host regular meetings on sustainability. Throughout the year, there will be enough moments to talk, to evaluate the current situation, to make leadership announcements and to exchange approaches.

While we will follow closely these talks, my personal wish for CSR Europe in 2020 is to actively engage many more companies and their sector associations in practical, impact-oriented collaborative platforms. We will do so by building a Pact 4 Sustainable Industry (P4SI) that will:

  1. Support industry federations in equipping their enterprises for the environmental, social and digital transformation;
  2. Engage far more companies in developing scalable solutions via Collaborative Platforms;
  3. Measure progress and share best practices.

P4SI executes CSR Europe’s Call to Action, launched last year and endorsed by +350 CEOs. In 2020, these CEOs and their companies will work together with the EU Leaders and civil society to build a future Europe that has sustainability, climate action and inclusiveness at its core by:

  • innovating business models and accelerating transformation by tackling climate change and enhancing social inclusion through collaborative platforms;
  • engaging in a critical but trust-building dialogue;
  • speeding up the transition towards sustainable production and consumption patterns by engaging the entire value chain and mobilising sustainable finance.

In other words, with the Pact 4 Sustainable Industry, CSR Europe will support the implementation of President von der Leyen’s Green Deal and the new EU Industry Strategy. The urgency of the climate agenda and the need to tackle it in an inclusive way will require large-scale collaboration. Companies and their stakeholders will need to work together if they want to achieve impact. In my previous working experience with one of the world’s largest car companies, I learnt first-hand from the top management that one company alone – no matter how big it is – cannot make the difference in the sustainability agenda. Leadership from one company can be necessary but it is not a sufficient condition to achieve impact, as I already outlined a year ago.

Unfortunately, I still notice too much-dispersed action and a lack of willingness to coordinate with other stakeholders because of individual corporate agendas, CEOs who want to dominate the discussions, or simply because coordination cost cannot be factored in. For instance, in my recent trip to experience and better understand the challenges of cobalt sourcing in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I saw how competition between upstream and downstream companies is preventing the adoption of a common approach. However, only by joining forces it will be possible to innovate business models and accelerate the necessary transformation to tackle the current climate and sustainability challenges in an inclusive way. That is what business leadership is really about and what we are currently doing in Drive Sustainability, the leading automotive partnership on supply chain sustainability.

CSR Europe is very well aware of this necessity and provides its members and network of +40 National Partner Organisations (NPOs) with key insights, best practices on sustainability management to scale-up impactful solutions in three priority areas:


           AN ECONOMY WITH AND FOR PEOPLE: Future of Work, Corporate Digital Responsibility


SUSTAINABLE RAW MATERIALS AND VALUE-CHAINS: Sustainable Sourcing, Circular Economy, Sustainable Supply Chain Platforms, Business & Human Rights, Sustainable Raw Materials


SUSTAINABLE MARKETS & FINANCE: Fair & Transparent Markets and Governance, Sustainable Finance, Non-Financial Reporting, Transparency & Responsible Tax Behavior.

For this reason, I would like to invite you to check our Calendar of Events and engage with CSR Europe to drive the sustainable change needed.