Published 2020-07-03

Nordic CEOs to Prime Ministers: These are our sustainability commitments, and this is what we ask of you

The alliance of CEOs from leading Nordic businesses, including Schibsted, yesterday presented their principles, commitments and asks towards the Nordic Council of Ministers in their joint effort to accelerate sustainability action on climate and diversity.

The Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future met virtually with Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, and Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, to address how their companies are taking action on climate and diversity, and to discuss opportunities for collaboration and government actions for accelerating the different measures.

The discussion with the Prime Ministers was a follow-up of the previous meeting between the parties last August in Reykjavik, Iceland, when they made a public statement about their shared vision for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The focus is set on advancing action on climate change and promoting diversity and inclusion aligned to SDGs 5, 12, and 13 through greater public-private sector collaboration.

“In order for us to solve the challenges related to climate, diversity and inclusion, we need to collaborate across governments and businesses by setting bold targets together, and making sure they are continuously measured,” says CEO of Schibsted, Kristin Skogen Lund and adds, “I am pleased to see that despite these turbulent times, our will and commitment to speed up the realisation of our SDG´s, is stronger than ever. Failure is not an option. All of our Nordic partners have on the top of their agenda to help co-create effective solutions.”

Initiatives to drive climate and diversity changes

“The new challenges we today face caused by the COVID-19 crisis has only strengthened the Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future’s dedication to delivering results on our SDG visions. A set of core principles and commitments will from now on be our guiding stars. Within both climate and diversity and inclusion areas, we focus on stronger disclosure, target setting, and impacting our value chains,” said Jens Henriksson, President and CEO of Swedbank, and Chair of the Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future in 2020.

In order to turn their efforts into effective and profound measures, the CEOs encouraged the Nordic Council of Ministers to take steps necessary to accelerate the speed of change.

“On climate, we encourage them to stimulate the transition to a net-zero carbon society through implementing new incentives, policy, and lay ground for better reporting. On the issue of diversity and inclusion, we encourage them to facilitate specific government initiatives and incentives related to reporting, procurement, and equal pay. Hopefully, our joint efforts will lead to a series of 2020-21 initiatives that will drive tangible progress towards establishing an economy where people and our planet can thrive together,” said Henriksson.

The way forward

During the opening statements, Prime Minister Solberg described COVID-19 as a tipping point.

“Our task is to make sure that the crisis does not create a more divided world, but rather that it increases cooperation and openness; between nations and corporations, between the public and private sectors. Together, we must accelerate the development of the green technologies, and ensure equality, inclusion, and diversity in our labour markets,” she said.

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, concurred and added:
“The fact that the economic crisis brought forward by the pandemic is turning into a humanitarian crisis underlines the massive importance of the SDGs. We strongly believe that multilateral cooperation between key actors plays an essential role in achieving the targets. We can use the Nordic model to accelerate our joint efforts.”

Sigve Brekke, President and CEO of Telenor Group, presented together with Birna Einarsdòttir, CEO of Íslandsbanki, the Nordic CEOs commitments and asked on diversity and inclusion.

“Our commitments are focused on zero discrimination and increased inclusion in the workplace. We ask the public sector to contribute to these commitments, for instance, by measuring and addressing equal pay gaps in public institutions and state-owned entities, and implement clear diversity and inclusion requirements to partners and suppliers,” said Brekke.

Going forward, the Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future will work on a plan for future meetings and joint activities on the regional and international stage.

Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future is an initiative consisting of CEOs of some of the Nordic region’s largest companies. Together, they have committed to integrate the UN Sustainable Development Goals in their respective business strategies and create a forum for the exchange of experiences and exploration of shared initiatives. The initiative also creates a platform for the Nordic Prime Ministers to engage directly with CEOs on how to move from sustainability as a compliance exercise to purpose-driven companies. Collectively, the companies operate across industries representing revenues of more than EUR 115 billion and 170,000 employees worldwide. The CEOs are:

Eldar Sætre, President and CEO, Equinor
Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA
Kristin Skogen Lund, CEO, Schibsted
Birna Einarsdóttir, CEO, Íslandsbanki
Árni Oddur Þórðarson, CEO, Marel
Tone Wille, CEO, Posten
Rickard Gustafson, President & CEO, SAS
Odd Arild Grefstad, CEO, Storebrand
Jens Henriksson, President and CEO, Swedbank
Sigve Brekke, President and CEO, Telenor Group
Allison Kirkby, President and CEO, Telia Company
Henrik Andersen, Group President and CEO, Vestas
Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO, Yara
Topi Manner, President and CEO, Finnair


Visit Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future website here