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April 24, 2002
Nordic Partnership Signs Sustainability Manifesto in Preparation for Rio + 10 Summit
    by William Baue

A group of companies from the four Nordic countries convened recently to report on their progress in generating a model for sustainable business development.

Last week, the Nordic Partnership held a forum in Copenhagen to issue their manifesto promoting a model for sustainable business development. Since its founding in May 2001, the consortium of 17 Scandinavian companies has been exchanging ideas about the best practice for integrating sustainable development into their businesses. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Danish think tank Mandag Morgen launched the Nordic Partnership to contribute to the dialogue leading up to the “Rio + 10” World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, this September.

"As companies we have a responsibility to reduce the negative impact on our earth,” said Sven Eckerstein, senior vice president of the Volvo Car Corporation. “We recognize that we cannot achieve this alone. Partnerships are needed." Other corporate partners include Finnish food ingredient producer Danisco, Danish enzyme producer Novozymes, and the Swedish postal service, Posten AB.

All 17 companies signed the manifesto, which committed them to cooperate with other stakeholders, to promote global sustainable development, and to implement sustainable practices in their own businesses. Besides these actions, the partnership generated a report that advanced additional recommendations, such as the need for companies to incorporate sustainable practices throughout the organization, from the upper rungs of management to the factory floor.

Prince Henrik of Denmark, president of WWF of Denmark, commenced the forum with opening remarks. Iver Drabęk, director of environment and sustainability for Deloitte & Touche, introduced “Lessons Learned,” the forum’s centerpiece. This segment presented case studies from five of the Nordic Partnership companies, including the Hartmann Group and Procter & Gamble Nordic. The forum closed with discussions that placed the Nordic Partnership in a global context, addressed collaboration between the northern and southern hemispheres, and suggested the next steps toward the Rio + 10 Summit. PrepCom IV, a ministerial level meeting in Indonesia in May, will be the next key event leading to the Summit.

The Rio + 10 Summit is so-named to mark the tenth anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The Nordic Partnership named itself thus to highlight the value Nordic culture places on sustainability, as well as the recognition that collaboration will promote progress more effectively than individual action. After a year of cooperation amongst the 17 companies, the Nordic Partnership now seeks to expand its influence beyond its regional boundaries by inspiring non-Nordic companies to adopt a business model for sustainable development.

“It has been important for us to share our experiences and challenges with other stakeholders and it has been a process of mutual learning--but this partnership is also about sharing these experiences with others," said John Vernon Jennings, vice president of Novo Nordisk A/S.


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