4-7 June/2019 – Oslo, Norway
BNCC collaborated with three other bilateral chambers of commerce in Norway (Canada, Colombia and India) to hold a morning seminar last Thursday to discuss the importance for the business sector to adapt to more responsible management and production and decrease environmental impacts while increasing economic activities. The green shift, which has become a buzzword in the business sector and many organizations brought the green growth aim into their strategy lately. Green growth is “the decreasing of environmental impacts while increasing economic activities.” More than 120 people attended the event, which was hosted by Deloitte, in its headquarters in Oslo.
The program started with a breakfast mingling, followed by a brief presentation about the green shift by a circular economy consultant, Michel Wolfstirn. The audience was inspired to rethink the role of the business sector in supporting the commitment to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.
The main attraction was a panel which gathered leaders of international companies and organizations. Sustainability director of Aker Biomarine and Yara International, VP of International Power of Statkraft, Director of Cambi Group and CEO and Founder of TotalCtrl discussed and exchanged experiences of how sustainability is bringing a positive impact to the bottom line of their business.
The moderator of the panel took the opportunity to question the leaders invited on how their companies bring sustainability from their inner core to the edges of their organizations, all employees and day-to-day activities. The panelists shared how the green strategy has been implemented in their business. Member of BNCC and head of sustainability at Yara, Berhard Stormyr mentioned that at Yara, sustainability is up on the top level for any new strategy designed by the company. CEO and co-founder of TotalCtrl, Charlotte Aschim explored the green shift and has founded a new business to attend the demand of other market going green. “The green growth became a business opportunity,” mentioned Aschim.
After the panel of discussions, head of sustainability of Deloitte, Hanne Solem presented a new program offered to companies seeking the green shift in the Nordics, SDG accelerator for business strategy. “Deloitte purpose is to make an impact that matters for clients, people, and society, contributing to the UN sustainable development goals,” explained Solem.
In 2017, the UN called the business sector to rethink their role in the sustainability mission declaring: “Business drives innovation, provides a source of finance and constitutes an engine for economic development and employment. Strong and visionary business leadership is therefore essential to achieving the transformation required by the SDGs”.
The attendees were very engaged by the topic and kept discussing it over the second round of breakfast. The green shift debate is a highly relevant discussion today and follows the BNCC mission which is to bring this topic to its agenda. Sustainability is much more than reports of compliance. Governments, businesses, civil society and individuals, all have an essential role to play to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.
By Larissa Slottet, BNCC
The 2019 General Meeting was held on April 8th at Yara International, in Oslo. A mingling session with refreshments opened the activities.
Before the General Meeting, the director Brazil area responsible at Yara, Thor-Inge Storbrua, gave a presentation where he updated the audience about the company’s history and operations in Brazil, as well as expectation for the way forward in the country.
According to Storbua, Brazil is very important to Yara as a global fertilizer company. He mentioned that agriculture is a major driver for Brazilian economy, and Brazil has a huge potential with answer for many of the challenges of other parts of the worlds, such as vast space, good weather conditions and qualified man power. Moreover, Brazilian producers have adopeted new technologies which have increased farming productivity and profitability.
Storbrua presented the long line of acquisitions of fertilizer companies from Brazil and opening of modern blending units in different states of the country, what has consolidating Yara’s leadership position in the Brazilian fertilizer market. The acquisition of Vale Cubatão in 2017 stabilished Yara as a nitrogen producer in Brazil, strenghthening its production footpring and complementing its existing distribution position, which is the biggest challenge the company has faced in its operations in Brazil, according to Storbrua.
Turning to the formal part of the AGM, 38 members were present, among them 9 members of the Board of Directors. The meeting was declared formally opened and constituted, according to the statutes by the interim Chair of the Board, Mr. Aage Thoen. As no other candidates stepped forward, Mr. Thoen appointed Larissa Slottet to chair the meeting.
On March 20th, the chamber invited its members and friends to a networking and conversation event about the new government of Brazil. The event took place at the Brazilian Embassy in Oslo.
To give us an insight into what are the plans and intentions of the new government of Brazil, we invited the ambassador of Brazil, HE Mr. George Monteiro Prata, to present President Bolsonaro´s proposals and actions during his first trimester in power.
The ambassador started giving an update about the economic situation of the country today. He stated that Brazil was recovering from its worst economic recession when the election was held last year. Also, he reminded the audience that during the election, Brazil was facing the fourth year of the investigations “Lava Jato” (Car Wash), which involves the huge state-owned Petrobras, other companies and groups of politicians. The combination of an economic, political and institutional crisis created a discontentment in society, and this was the pillar for Bolsonaro´s campaign and victory.
Jair Bolsonaro turned the crisis to opportunity, presenting him as the new face that would fight corruption and domestic violence,shifting Brazil to the right and away from the Workers’ Party electoral winning streak. “The elections were run free, clean and democratic and brought Bolsonaro to power,” said the ambassador.
Bolsonaro openly assumed that he is not an expert in economics, but he recruited the University of Chicago-trained economist, Paulo Guedes to run Brazil’s economy and bring Brazil back to the road of development, with free market reforms. This measure strategically brought the support of skeptical investors and the business community. Guedes assumed the ministries of finance, planning and industry with a clear priority in fiscal consolidation and to balance the budgetary deficit which, according to him, is connected with the malfunction of the Brazilian economy. The new minister is promising to control public debt, reform the pension system, privatize thousands of state companies, and implementing tax reform.
Changing the pension system is crucial for the economy. The system is extremely generous with a part of the population and unfair with many since workers in the different sectors receive benefits disproportionally. The government has to create a broad coalition in Congress being able to convince public opinion of its importance. According to the new president, the pension reform is the center of gravity of the government. Meanwhile, the government is facing many challenges of to pass its reforms in Congress. Besides, the privatization plan is going ahead. The Ambassador gave the example of the successful airport concessions just realized, and an essential round of oil exploration to come soon. On the other hand, Bolsonaro’s team has raised the issue of reducing Brazil’s 34% corporate income tax. Dividends taxation could be paired with such a reduction in corporate income tax to make the Brazilian corporate tax system more competitive. Tax reform, simplification of the system, reduction and elimination of taxes aims at creating a virtual circle of growth. According to the Ambassador, for many, Bolsonaro’s government will be measured by its capacity to receive the economy of the country.
After a live and engaging Q&A session with the ambassador, a Brazilian economist, Rafael de Souza presented an analysis of the foreign direct investment in Brazil using a statistical approach through an exciting and entertaining presentation. The economist showed the foreign investment in Brazil in an adverse global investment scenario, which countries invest most in Brazil, and which industries gets the most of the investments.
A mingling session took place, where attendees could keep discussing and building knowledge to ensure the ability to rapidly adjust to downside risks of the new government rapidly, but at the same time taking advantage of the sudden emergence of new opportunities in the years to come.
The new chairman of BNCC, Aage Thoen, the Ambassador of Brazil, George Monteiro Prata and the Brazilian economist, Rafael Sousa.
By Larissa Slottet, BNCC