October 03, 2001
Scandinavian Companies Work toward Sustainable Business Model
by Mark Thomsen
A group of large Nordic companies are participating in an unusual partnership to create their view
of a future sustainable company.
Fifteen prominent companies have agreed to join a partnership launched last week that will focus on
developing an entirely new business model centering on sustainability. The project, dubbed the Nordic Partnership, was initiated by the
World Wildlife Fund for Nature in the four Nordic countries and House of Mandag Morten, a
Copenhagen-based news and research provider. Well-known corporate participants include the Danish
enzymes and pharmaceuticals group Novo A/S, Volvo Car Corporation, Swedish lumber and paper company
AssiDomän, and the Swedish postal service, Posten AB.
"Our customers show a growing
interest for sustainability issues. An active effort within sustainable development is an
important competitive tool," said Lennart Grabe, CEO of Posten AB. "That is why it is only natural
for Posten to participate in the Nordic Partnership."
The objective of the partnership is
to develop a business model, based on Nordic values and attitudes, that integrates sustainability
into the way businesses are managed, organized and developed. This objective will be met by
exposing the dilemmas, barriers and opportunities that companies encounter when addressing
sustainability. The Partnership also aims to offer a specific proposal for how businesses can
contribute to global sustainable development.
The coming months will be dedicated to
developing the new business model. This will take place in close cooperation between the network
of companies and the project secretariat, which is operated jointly by World Wildlife Fund for
Nature in Denmark and House of Mandag Morgen. It is expected that as work progresses, the number
of participating companies will increase to 20 to 25.
The new business model will be
presented at an international conference in Copenhagen in the spring of 2002, and later at the
United Nation's Johannesburg Summit
2002, a global conference on sustainable development. The conference, which will be held in
Johannesburg, South Africa in September, also goes by the title Rio+10: The World Summit on
Sustainable Development, in reference to the historic United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
The Rio conference recognized the causal link
between current lifestyles and consumption patterns, especially in industrialized countries, and
major environmental problems. The most significant issues were identified in the energy,
agriculture, forest and fishery sectors.
Stakeholders that have been disappointed with
the lack of progress in global sustainability since the Rio conference are hoping that Rio+10 will
kickstart new efforts. Nordic
Partnership companies seem to hold the same view, and are looking forward to making their
"Expectations are running high that the conference in Johannesburg, just
like the Rio summit in 1992, will represent a milestone in sustainable development," said Lars
Rebien Sorensen, CEO of Novo Nordisk A/S. "The Nordic Partnership is an exciting initiative, which
we hope can contribute to the big picture at the UN summit in Johannesburg."