ESG has become a strategic leadership agenda

“These days many global executives are waking up to a new ESG reality: investors and shareholders expect them to better manage their ESG risks as systemic conditions for their companies in a changing world; stakeholders reward brands that proactively contribute to fairer, more sustainable and regenerative futures, and legislators require businesses to disclose how.”

Read the full article here.

Lise Kingo joins the Supervisory Board at Covestro

Lise Kingo joins the Supervisory Board at Covestro

Lise Kingo is honoured and delighted to join the Supervisory Board at Covestro: “I have known Covestro for several years as a very inspiring role model for how to integrate sustainability into business strategy. I am honoured to bring my expertise and help take the company to the next level of implementing a fully circular business strategy.”

Read more here.

The time has come for climate competent Board Directors

There is never a dull moment in the board room. The world is changing at an incredible pace and in the midst of the pandemic, global executives are ranking climate change the most serious societal threat to their business over the next decade according to Deloitte, the WEF Risk Report and many other sources.

Read the full blogpost from Boards Impact Forum here.

COVID19 – Is a firedrill

The coronavirus pandemic is “just a fire drill” for what is likely to follow from the climate crisis, and the protests over racial injustice around the world show the need to tie together social equality, environmental sustainability and health, the UN’s sustainable business chief has said.

“The overall problem is that we are not sustainable in the ways we are living and producing on the planet today,” said Lise Kingo, the executive director of the UN Global Compact, under which businesses sign up to principles of environmental protection and social justice. “The only way forward is to create a world that leaves no one behind.”

She said there were “very, very clear connections” between the Covid-19 and climate crises, and the Black Lives Matter protests around the world, which she said had helped to reveal deep-seated inequalities and “endemic and structural racism”.

“We have seen illustrated to everyone that social inequality issues are part of the sustainable development agenda,” Kingo said.

Human rights were “inseparable” from dealing with climate breakdown, she told the Guardian in an interview. “This horrible racism [seen in the killing of George Floyd] is about human rights. We have to make sure that we give the social part of the agenda equal focus.”

She called on business leaders to take heed. “We want all chief executives to become social activists – to understand social equality,” she said. Not only was this the right thing to do, but “it creates stable markets for companies around the world” and reflects the desires of young people.

“Young people are so engaged, so dedicated to this agenda, they don’t want to work for companies that do not have a solid responsibility strategy,” she said.

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said building a fairer society would be essential to the world’s health, as well as to saving the planet from climate breakdown and ecological destruction.

“Today, the fabric of society and the wellbeing of people hinge on our ability to build a fair globalisation,” he told the two-day UN Global Compact virtual conference of business leaders, which started on Monday.

“Where once ‘do no harm’ was a common approach for the business community, today we are arriving at a new landscape of elevated expectations and responsibilities. But despite progress, serious threats would undermine our future, including climate change, poverty, loss of biodiversity and widening social inequalities. The pandemic has underscored the world’s fragilities, which extend far beyond the realm of global health.”

Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of England, told the conference that the Covid-19 crisis had shown how urgent it was to tackle global heating. “This is a crisis that will involve the whole world and from which no one can self-isolate,” he said.

He called for all companies to provide clear information to customers, the public and investors about how they plan to move to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

More than 10,000 companies are signed up to the UN Global Compact, and they are being urged to strengthen their commitments to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Many have pledged to cut carbon in line with the Paris agreement goal of holding global temperature rises to no more than 2C.

But scientific studies show that this may not be enough to stave off disaster, and that the consequences of even 1.5C of global heating will be severe. Kingo wants companies to revise their business plans in order to reduce carbon in line with a 1.5C goal. “We need to see leadership to drive this,” she said.

A report by the UN for the 20th anniversary of the Global Compact found that only four in 10 companies had targets that would enable them to meet the UN’s sustainable development goals by the 2030 deadline, and fewer than a third thought their industry was moving fast enough.

While 84% of companies participating in the UN Global Compact were taking action on the goals, fewer than half were “embedding” those targets into their core business activities, and only 37% were designing their business models to meet the goals.

“The human community is completely interconnected and interdependent,” Kingo said. “Without solidarity, especially with those most vulnerable among us, we all lose. We are paying the price for turning a blind eye to obvious injustices in the world.”

Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent – The Guardian

Read the article here.

Into the Decade of Action

Not on track to meet the 2030 deadline

As we were launching into the UN Decade of Action, it was with the acute awareness that we were not on track to meet the 2030 deadline to transform our world. Progress had been made in some areas: Extreme poverty and child mortality had been reduced by half[1]; access to electricity in the least developed countries had doubled[2]. Economies had bounced back to the levels recorded before the 2008 financial crisis, with increased labour productivity and employment rates[3]. The underlying trend was worrying though. Because social inequalities were widening for more than 70 per cent of the global population[4], exacerbating the risks of divisions and hampering economic and social development. Growth and rising employment were largely carried by low-paid, low quality and low security jobs[5], with more than half the world’s population – 4 billion people – not covered by any social safety net[6]. Worst impacted were women: According to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Gender Gap Report[7], it would take 257 years to achieve economic gender parity – or ten generations of women.

At the same time, global warming and overconsumption continued to test the limits of the Earth’s natural resources, threatening the health, wellbeing and livelihoods for millions of people. The World Health Organization called out that air pollution alone already caused 7 million deaths annually[8] and global hunger was on the rise again due to climate change[9].  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a special report warning of the implications of global warming beyond 1.5 °C over pre-industrial levels, cautioning that the difference between 2 °C and 1.5 °C could be a matter of life and death for millions of people[10].

COVID-19 exposed the fragile nature of progress towards the SDGs

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. As the coronavirus is sweeping across the world, the fragile nature of our progress has been exposed. The hard truth is that our failure to create a more socially just world before COVID-19 has significantly worsened the current crisis and will hamper our ability to recover faster as a global community.

The virus has sent shockwaves through the global economy, deteriorating already serious inequalities. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that the ‘Great Lock-Down’ recession could shrink the global economy by more than 3 per cent[11], and according to the World Bank, the pandemic could push about 49 million people into extreme poverty in 2020[12], reversing two decades of poverty reduction. At the end of the second quarter of 2020, the equivalent of 305 million full time jobs had been lost, with ILO warning that about 1.6 billion people in the informal sector could be at high risk of losing their jobs due to COVID-19[13]. Many of them will be women living at the brink of extreme poverty without any rights or social protection.

As we come together to rebuild our economies from this unprecedented crisis, we must draw from the most important lessons from COVID-19: That the human community is completely interconnected and interdependent; that without solidarity, especially with those most vulnerable among us, we all lose; and that cross-border challenges such as COVID-19 call for a coordinated multilateral response that unites all sectors – public and private – around a shared set of values and principles.

Recovery starts by rebuilding trust in business

The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer[14] showed that a growing sense of unfairness in the system was driving distrust across institutions. And in May, a special COVID-19 update of the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer[15] showed that 67 percent of respondents believed that COVID-19 exacerbated these inequalities. However, while trust in institutions grew during the pandemic, wide-held disappointment was voiced in business and its leaders: Half of all people felt that business failed at putting people before profits; and more than 60% felt that business failed at protecting their employees’ financial wellbeing and safeguarding their jobs, as well as helping their smaller suppliers or business costumers stay financially afloat.  Fewer than one in three respondents believed CEOs did a good job in responding to demands on them placed by the pandemic.

Despite the twin health and economic crises, people are, however, strikingly optimistic that long-term, positive change will emerge. More than two-thirds of respondents say they believe the pandemic will result in valuable innovations and improvements in how we work, live, and treat each other, and they are calling for partnerships between Government and business to pave the way forward.

The road to socio-economic recovery is sustainable

Boston Consulting Group recently conducted a survey showing that 92% of mainstream investors, in the COVID-19 crisis, would put companies’ economic recovery before Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) commitments[16]. But that’s an entirely flawed logic – economic recovery and sustainable development are not opposites. Indeed, companies with higher ESG scores fared financially better during the COVID-19 crisis[17], and will continue to do so as we set out to recover better.

Right now trillions of dollars are being infused into the recovery of some the world’s largest economies and to support developing economies in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Simultaneously, business across sectors, sizes and geographies are revisiting their strategies and business plans to recover lost territory and adapt to a new normal. There has never been a better time to jumpstart a worldwide transformation towards a more inclusive and sustainable net-zero economy that will enable us to recover better and more resilient.

Ambitious climate action could unleash an economic upside of $26 trillion and create 65 million climate resilient jobs towards 2030[18]. And according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), a decarbonisation path could creative massive socio-economic gains, generating savings of between US$ 50 trillion to US$ 142 trillion by 2050, quadrupling renewable energy jobs to 42 million and add tens of millions more jobs in related sectors, while at the same time producing a 13.5% rise in global welfare indicators such as health and education[19].

The state of progress among UN Global Compact participants

The 2020 UN Global Compact annual survey provides a baseline for how business across all sectors can ramp up efforts towards a new sustainable normal.

While 84% of UNGC business participants take some form of action on the SDGs, goal setting and impact are not ambitious enough: Only 39% of businesses are setting goals that are sufficiently ambitious, science based and aligned with societal needs, and only 46% have aligned the Goals with their core business.

And while 90% of companies have policies covering all of the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, only 26% assess their risks against the Principles, and even fewer – 18% – assess their impact. Among the companies that conduct impact assessments, the social areas are trailing behind, with only 18% conducting impact assessments within Human Rights, and 29% within Labour.

Companies have become better at tracking progress from their SDG actions (45% up from 40% in 2019), with a majority of companies covering SDGs targeting health (SDG 3), gender (SDG 5), decent work (SDG 8), responsible consumption (SDG 12), and climate action (SDG 13). Companies have also become better at integrating the SDGs into their operations (57% vs 41% in 2019), with 61% aligning their products and services with the Goals. However, it is also true that the vast majority of businesses maintain a narrow focus on – mainly the positive – impacts of their own operations on the SDGs. Only 31% are actively assessing their negative impacts on the SDGs, and only 13% of companies act through their suppliers, while even fewer – 10% – consider the use of their products as a SDG responsibility.

According to the UNGC annual survey, fewer companies drive advocacy for the Goals – 35% in 2020 vs 53% in 2019, and fewer work through partnerships – 52% in 2020 vs 64% in 2019.

COVID-19 calls for a new normal

Many businesses right now are fighting for their survival, and a looming global recession is forcing companies and governments to think very short-term. It can be tempting to turn the focus inwards and deal with COVID-19 now, while returning to a focus on sustainable development ‘when we can’. But as we set out to recover from COVID-19 the world needs more, not less sustainability.

The COVID-19 pandemic starkly exposed the vulnerability of workers around the world, and the sustainable recovery must necessarily start by business stepping up their ambition to ensure access decent work, living wages and social protection – also in the global supply chain.

The pandemic also called out the interconnectedness of issues across health, social and economic development. In a post-COVID-19 world, business must deal decisively and transparently with those issues that make us all unnecessarily vulnerable to this and future crises, carefully assessing and accounting for every business touch-point across the value chain and in the supply chain, and how it may impact the health of planet and people – positively and negatively. A recent Harvard study, for example, found that long-term exposure to air pollution may significantly increase the risk factor from dying of COVID-19[20]. Efforts to reduce air pollution, is therefore essential to decrease vulnerability in the population to the virus as well as climate change.

Some of the most forward-looking businesses are setting the pace for a new climate ambition. Within the past year, 185 UN Global Compact companies[21] – collectively representing over 5.9 million employees, spanning 36 sectors and with headquarters in 37 countries – have responded to the UN Secretary-General’s call to climate action committing to set science-based targets aligned with a 1.5 °C future. With a combined market capitalization of over US$ 3.8 trillion, and representing annual direct emissions equivalent to the annual total CO2 emissions of France, we are approaching a real tipping point for a net-zero economy.

It is clear that no business, no sector, no nation will be able to exit this crisis on their own. The business voice is critical for a recovery that builds on multilateral cooperation and solidary, and UN Global Compact invites all businesses to join the growing number of corporate activists for a new more sustainable normal. In May 2020, UN Global Compact, together with its partners in the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI), mobilized the largest ever UN-backed CEO-led advocacy effort, urging world leaders to build net-zero climate targets into COVID-19 recovery plans and stimulus packages. Behind the statement were more than 160 CEOs of the world’s leading businesses, representing more than US$ 2.4 trillion in market capitalization. Even in the face of economic shock from the coronavirus, their commitment is unwavering.

Now it is time for SDG Ambition

With less than 4,000 days remaining until the 2030 target, business leaders are not content with current progress and are calling for their sectors and peers to step-up and turn commitment into action. As we set out to recover better, now it is time for all companies to raise their SDG Ambition for people, planet and prosperity. Across all the SDGs and at a scale that can create the tipping points for the world we want.

That’s why the UN Global Compact has launched SDG Ambition. Together with our partners and pioneering businesses we are proposing a set of ambitions that all companies should align their goals and targets with, including:

  • Gender balance at all levels of management
  • Greenhouse gas emissions reduction in line with a 1.5° C pathway
  • Net-positive water impact in water-stressed basins and regions
  • Zero deforestation across supply chains
  • Zero waste to landfill and incineration
  • Zero incidence of bribery
  • 100% resource recovery, with all materials and products recovered and recycled or re-used at end of life
  • 100% of employees and contractors earn wages that meet the cost of living

The change we need to see will not happen through incremental improvements and adjustments to ‘business-as-usual’. We need companies to become much more strategic and transformational in how they run their businesses to deliver on the 2030 Agenda. It starts by deepening the integration of the Ten UN Global Compact Principles and the SDGs across strategy, operations and stakeholder engagement. The UN Global Compact has developed an SDG Implementation Framework complemented by tools and resources that guides the integration, including minimum thresholds for target setting across sectors.

Deep integration means that SDG Ambition is an integral part of the company’s purpose, values and governance. Importantly, SDG Ambition is a senior management oversight, anchored at the board and c-suite level. It is embedded in the company’s corporate strategy and business unit strategies, fully integrated into the company’s performance management system, connected to key business processes and existing technology platforms, allowing senior management to monitor progress and make strategic decisions across its operations. It allows the company to be fully transparent about its risks and opportunities, and communicate on progress towards its goals and targets to all of its stakeholders. It allows the company to use the SDGs as a framework for forming alliances with stakeholders to accelerate impact and ensure social license to operate.

Sustainability is leadership

To truly succeed in driving sustainability outcomes, organizations need to focus on making sustainability sustainable. This is so much more than a matter of strategy, policy and process – it is fundamentally about leadership and people. If organizations are a collection of individuals working together on a common purpose, and corporate culture is a manifestation of their shared beliefs and behaviours, then embedding and identifying employees and leaders across the organization who are motivated to drive sustainability and have the skills and experience to do so is the surest path to long-term success.

To lead a transformation of this scale and nature requires a high degree of legitimacy, personal impact and authenticity that all stems from the personal commitment to making the world a better place.

Leaders on boards and in the c-suite have a huge opportunity to make sustainability central to their organization’s culture of leadership. How companies develop and select the leaders of tomorrow will have a lasting impact on our collective progress against sustainability goals.

[1] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) Special Edition: Progress towards Sustainable Development Goals Report of the Secretary-General, New York 2019

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) World Social Report 2020

[5] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Compendium of Productivity Indicators 2019

[6] International Labour Organization (ILO) World Social Protection Report 2017-2019: Universal social protection to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

[7] World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2020: Mind the 100 Year Gap

[8] World Health Organization (WHO) Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, Issue 63, March 2014

[9] Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO

[10] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Global Warming of 1.5 °C – a special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty, June 2019

[11] The International Monetary Fund (IMF) 2020 World Economic Outlook, April 2020

[12] The World Bank Blogs – The impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on global poverty, and why sub-Saharan Africa might be the region hardest hit, April 20, 2020

[13] International Labour Organization (ILO) – press release 29 April 2020: ILO: As job losses escalate, nearly half of global workforce at risk of losing livelihoods

[14] 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, 19 January 2020

[15] 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update: Trust and the COVID-19 Pandemic, 5 May 2020

[16] Financial Times (FT) 7 May 2020 – Investors row back on ethical principles, research shows / Boston Consulting Group (BCG) COVID-19 Investor Pulse Check #4, May 1-May 3, 2020

[17] HSBC – ESG stocks did best in COVID-19 slump, 27 March 2020

[18] Global Commission on the Economy and Climate – The New Climate Economy, 2018

[19] International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Global Renewables Outlook: Energy Transformation 2050, April 2020

[20] Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health – Air pollution linked with higher COVID-19 death rates, updated article 5 May 2020

[21] UN Global Compact Business Ambition for 1.5 °C – Our only future

Novo Nordisk Foundation establishes a new advisory panel for its humanitarian grants

Novo Nordisk Foundation establishes a new advisory panel for its humanitarian grants

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has established a new advisory panel that will advise the Foundation on strategic issues and considerations related to the Foundation awarding grants for humanitarian purposes and development aid initiatives.

The Humanitarian and Development Aid Advisory Panel is being created because the Foundation has significantly increased its grants for humanitarian purposes in recent years. The Foundation plans to gradually increase its total annual payments for humanitarian purposes to DKK 200 million in 2023.

The Panel is broadly based and includes both Danish and international experts with many years of experience in their respective fields. These expert members have strong international networks and extensive knowledge across various aspects of humanitarian initiatives, including health, sustainability and human rights. They also have insight into local conditions in the areas in which the Foundation operates. The members are:

  • Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch
  • Bassem Saad, CEO, Queen Rania Foundation, Jordan
  • Lise Kingo, former CEO and Director, United Nations Global Compact
  • Flemming Konradsen, Professor, Department of Public Health and Director, School of Global Health, University of Copenhagen
  • Trine Rask Thygesen, State Secretary for Development Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Denmark

Lars Munch will represent the Foundation’s Board of Directors on the Panel, which will be chaired by Hanna Line Jakobsen, Senior Vice President, Novo Nordisk Foundation.

“We have established the new advisory panel to benefit from the extensive experience, insight and networks of its members. The goal is to strengthen the implementation of our strategy and specific programmes, so that these can be as effective as possible for the people and countries we want to help,” explains Hanne Line Jakobsen, Senior Vice President and Head of the Foundation’s grants for humanitarian and social purposes.

“The Novo Nordisk Foundation is in a development phase, and as a new and serious actor in the humanitarian field, we think that it is important to listen to and engage with leading capacities in the fields in which we work,” says Hanne Line Jakobsen.

Since 2019, the Foundation has had two special priorities in its humanitarian grants and development aid initiatives. One is to improve the future prospects of young refugees and other vulnerable adolescents in areas and countries affected by the conflict in Syria. These projects are being carried out in Jordan. The second priority is to combat noncommunicable diseases in the same region and in eastern Africa. These projects are currently being carried out in Jordan and Tanzania. The Foundation also distributes emergency aid for projects worldwide.

A study conducted by the Foundation shows that, from 2014 to 2019, more than 800,000 people in deprived parts of the world have benefitted from humanitarian projects supported by the Foundation.

Further information

Christian Mostrup, Senior Programme Lead, +45 3067 4805,

Sanofi’s Board of Directors proposes the appointment of Rachel Duan and Lise Kingo as independent directors

Sanofi’s Board of Directors proposes the appointment of Rachel Duan and Lise Kingo as independent directors

Paris (France) – March 4, 2020 – At its meeting on March 4, 2020, the Board of Directors of Sanofi decided to propose, at the next Annual General Meeting of Shareholders scheduled for April 28, 2020, the appointment of two new independent directors, Rachel Duan and Lise Kingo, as well as the ratification of the appointment by co-optation of Paul Hudson and the reappointment of Laurent Attal, Carole Piwnica, Diane Souza and Thomas Südhof. Claudie Haigneré’s term of office, which expires at the end of the next General Meeting after three full mandates, will not be renewed. In addition, Suet-Fern Lee, after serving on the Board of Directors for the last 9 years, has declared her intention to retire and as a consequence to resign from her directorship before the said meeting.

Rachel Duan is currently Senior Vice President of GE and President & CEO of GE Global Markets, where she is responsible for driving GE’s growth in China, Asia Pacific, India, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.

Rachel Duan joined GE’s Corporate Audit Staff in 1996. She then held several management positions, including Lean Six Sigma, sales and marketing at GE Plastics in China and the Asia-Pacific region. She became President & CEO of GE Advanced Materials China in 2006 and then of the Asia Pacific region in 2008. In 2010, Rachel Duan was appointed President & CEO of GE Healthcare China and President & CEO of GE China in 2014, becoming the first native Chinese woman to hold this position in GE’s largest market outside the United States. She was promoted to her current role in January 2019.

A native of Shanghai, Rachel Duan holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and international business from Shanghai International Studies University and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States. Throughout her career, she has worked and lived in the United States, Japan and China.

Lise Kingo is currently* CEO & Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact, a position she has held since 2015. The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative uniting business to create a better world through universal principles and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Lise Kingo began her career in 1986 in business-to-business advertising at JP Bureau in Copenhagen and joined Novo Industries (now Novo Nordisk after the merger with Nordisk Gentofte) in 1988, where she remained for 26 years. She served as Chief of Staff, Executive Vice President and member of the Executive Management team since 2002, where she was instrumental in defining Novo Nordisk’s sustainable business strategy. Prior to 2002, she held various positions in Novozymes, Novo Holding and Novo Nordisk, including internal audit, compliance, people & organization, branding and sustainability.
A native of Denmark, Lise Kingo holds a bachelor’s degree in Religions and Ancient Greek Art from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Economics from the Copenhagen Business School and a master’s degree in Responsibility & Business from the University of Bath in the UK. Lise Kingo is also certified as a director by INSEAD in France. Throughout her career, she has held positions in Denmark, the United Kingdom, Norway, the Netherlands and the United States.

* Lise Kingo will be stepping down from her post as CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact in June 2020. Assuming election to the Board, she will not sit at Board meetings until she has separated from the United Nations.

“The arrival of Rachel Duan and Lise Kingo allow to deepen the skills of the board of directors in the knowledge of emerging markets, especially China as well as in Social Responsibility. The Board of Directors is therefore continuing to adapt the profiles of its members in line with the Group’s strategic needs.” said Serge Weinberg, Chairman of the Board of Directors.

The composition of the Board’s specialized committees will be reviewed at the end of the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders scheduled for April 28, 2020.

About Sanofi

Sanofi is dedicated to supporting people through their health challenges. We are a global biopharmaceutical company focused on human health. We prevent illness with vaccines, provide innovative treatments to fight pain and ease suffering. We stand by the few who suffer from rare diseases and the millions with long-term chronic conditions.

With more than 100,000 people in 100 countries, Sanofi is transforming scientific innovation into healthcare solutions around the globe.

Sanofi, Empowering Life

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