December 2-3, 2020 – Brussels




From 8.45 am to 11.10 am: Introductory remarks by Lapo Pistelli, executive vice president for international affairs at Eni, followed by an interview with Pascal Canfin, MEP and chair of the ENVI Committee, and Barbara Botos, deputy secretary of state for climate policy at the Hungarian Ministry of Innovation and Technology, moderated by Jan Cienski, senior policy editor at POLITICO.

This will be followed by two panel discussions:

  • “Short-term vision versus long-term benefits: What’s the right balance?” with Markus J. Beyrer, director-general of BusinessEurope, Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President of The Club of Rome, Petri Peltonen, under-secretary of state at the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, and Mario Nava, director for horizontal policies at the European Commission’s DG FISMA, moderated by Paola Tamma, reporter at POLITICO.
  • “Trifecta: Combining environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainability” with Eila Kreivi, director and head of the capital markets department at the European Investment Bank (EIB), Janez Potočnik, co-chair of the UN International Resource Panel, and Richard White, vice-president for procurement & sustainability at AB InBev Europe, and moderated by Bjarke Smith-Meyer, reporter at POLITICO.

From 11.40 am to 1.00 pm: Spotlight discussion “Business insights: making sustainability more profitable” with Alexandra Brand, chief sustainability officer at Syngenta, and Robert Metzke, global head of sustainability at Philips, moderated by Jan Cienski, senior policy editor at POLITICO.

This will be followed by opening remarks by Keith Kenny, vice president of sustainability at McDonald’s, and a panel discussion “Thinking green: Are consumers a driver for the circular economy?” with Michelle Gibbons, director-general of the European Brands Association, Johann Jenson, chief product officer at Grover, Kathrin Krause, policy officer for sustainable consumption at the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, and Kęstutis Sadauskas, director for circular economy and green growth at the European Commission’s DG Environment, and moderated by Anca Gurzu, reporter at POLITICO.

From 2.40 pm to 3.30 pm:  Opening remarks by Roberto Ferrigno, EU policy advisor at Novamont, followed by a panel discussion “The battle of materials” with Eija Hietavuo, SVP sustainability at Stora Enso, Daniel Calleja Crespo, director-general at the European Commission’s DG Environment, Jeremy Wates, secretary general of the European Environmental Bureau, and Patricia Vangheluwe, executive director of PlasticsEurope, and moderated by Eline Schaart, reporter at POLITICO.

Linking sustainability and growth seemed to be an oxymoron until a few years ago — restraining growth was tied to hair-shirted ascetics questioning market economics. That’s changed. Initially spurred by worries over climate change and environmental pollution, businesses have woken up to sustainability being a potential money-maker.

From renewable energy, to the shift of the car industry to electric vehicles, greener farming and a circular economy, sustainability is a crucial part of future growth. The past practice of manufacturing disposable goods turned out to be not only polluting, but also economically wasteful.

Some initiatives around sustainability are being implemented at the global level with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while the European Commission is currently promoting the circular economy as means to generate jobs and economic growth — all while cleaning up the environment.

In that context, POLITICO presented its first Sustainable Future Summit on November 14 in Brussels. During this one-day event, we gathered policymakers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and consumers to debate the hunt for sustainable growth.

The summit looked at the following questions:

  • What role are regulators and consumers playing in fostering sustainability, and are they listening sufficiently businesses?
  • How can companies and society commit to the SDGs? Do they engage meaningfully with the goals and what’s in it for them?
  • How can European corporates become an example for other parts of the world?
  • In a globalized world, how can regulators ensure a more sustainable supply chain across sectors? Are sanctions a possible enforcement tool?
  • Does a fairly resource-poor continent like Europe have an advantage in a world where the order of the day is reusing and recycling?
  • What should the EU and member states do to prepare civil society to function in a circular economy?

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