A major business seminar hosted by AkzoNobel recently at their headquarters in Amsterdam was attended by the Swedish Ambassador and a former Prime Minister of the Netherlands.
Titled ‘Sustainability, the new competitive edge for Europe’, the seminar was organised by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce to highlight the increasing importance that businesses, consumers and stakeholders are placing on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) issues.
His Excellency Mr Håkan Emsgård, the Ambassador of Sweden said he was privileged to speak at AkzoNobel as the company was a good example of Swedish and Dutch businesses joining forces to become a global market leader. He described ‘sustainability’ as a core business activity rather than as an act of philanthropy.
Professor Jan Peter Balkenende, the former Dutch prime minister who currently leads the Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition and is a partner at Ernst & Young, spoke of building a ‘Sustainability Valley’ in the Netherlands.
He observed that people were increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability, therefore businesses had to take responsibility by focusing on the ‘Three Ss’: Shape – by talking about business; Share – their views with NGOs and stakeholders; and Stimulate – debate.
The event also featured Leif Darner, member of AkzoNobel’s Board of Management, Karin Markides, President at Chalmers University of Technology, and Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer for the IKEA Group.
All the speakers highlighted the necessity for companies to develop a sustainable approach to business, with those embracing it now placing themselves at the forefront of the market, and ensuring a successful future both for themselves and the planet.
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