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Sustainability Summit once again shines a light on successful business steps in the field of sustainability

15.05. 2024
line-arrow Sustainability Summit once again shines a light on successful business steps in the field of sustainability

The interest in sustainability is huge. While the first edition of the Czech & Slovak Sustainability Summit was attended by 351 “susmans” and “susmans”, the second one, which took place this year at the Cubex Centre Prague, welcomed 578 participants. The top ten sustainable projects selected by the Summit’s Scientific Council were awarded the Sustainability Star.

The Czech & Slovak Sustainability Summit took place only for the second time this year, but the Cubex Centre Prague welcomed such a large number of interested parties – 578 – that we can already speak of a fully established event. “The Sustainability Summit aims to shine a light on the steps companies are taking to become more sustainable. We try to highlight positive achievements so that other companies can be inspired. At the same time, we encourage a debate that gives businesses the feedback they need in their efforts to become more sustainable. We believe that such a forum helps to move sustainability forward in the Czech and Slovak market,” explains Jeffrey Osterroth , CEO of ATOZ Group, which organised the summit.

In addition to Jeffrey Osterroth, the opening keynote speaker was also Prof. Vladimír Kočí , Head of the Institute of Sustainability and Product Ecology at the University of Chemical Technology, which is the expert guarantor of the event programme. He talked about sustainability as the big story of our time: “There are a lot of things we’ve known for years that need to be done, but now that ESG is suddenly here, everything is moving forward quickly. Because when something is named, it starts to become an action. I am glad that the stories that will be told at the Summit will resonate with you, because story is also very important for sustainability. Sustainability is not a checklist that we meet and move on. It’s something that we need to experience in our organisations, to look for pathways and solutions and to affirm the roots from which we come.”

Not only did 578 sustainability and ESG professionals attend the second edition of the Czech & Slovak Sustainability Summit, but also 68 speakers took part in the conference programme (in a joint session on the main stage and in six afternoon workshops). The Summit was supported by 59 partners from all business sectors.

Filip Kruta, Director of EcoTech Hub at the Sustainability Summit.

Inspiring opening discussion on global sustainability

The morning programme started with an inspiring debate on the topic of sustainability in the world. “It is often the case that sustainability managers in the Czech and Slovak Republics, and even across Europe, forget that the old continent is only part of a much larger whole. Improving sustainability in Europe and forgetting about the rest of the world is not enough. The air Europeans breathe is the air of the world. The water that washes Europe’s shores is global water. The temperatures we record on our thermometers are global temperatures. And people who cross our borders are looking for better living conditions than they have at home,” says the programme director of the summit Kateřina Osterroth .

In the opening discussion, therefore, the Pavla Gomba , Executive Director of UNICEF Czech Republic, and Zuzana Harmáčková , Head of the Department of Socio-Ecological Analysis at the Institute of Global Change Research of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Moderator Rey Koranteng spoke with them on the basis that both have spent a significant part of their lives dealing with sustainability issues outside the Czech Republic and Europe. Thanks to their knowledge, experience and insight into the situation in other parts of the world, the audience was provided with informed information about what is troubling other countries and what are the implications of global sustainability for Europe. It was clear from the presentations that the “old continent” is not the clear navel of the world when it comes to implementing sustainable principles. We can take inspiration (but also reasons for more activity) from many other parts of the planet.

Panel discussion with the participation of Minister Hladik

The panel discussion entitled Cooperation is the only way to sustainability focused on how the various key players in the market interact with each other. The debate highlighted the importance of cooperation as a key element in achieving sustainability. Participants discussed the need for companies to connect with suppliers, clients and other stakeholders in order for sustainability to truly move forward. The panel brought together business leaders with representatives from academia, government and the non-profit sector, and their collaborative discussion provided valuable insights and inspiration.

Under the guidance of the moderator Alice Machová (EY Czech Republic) debated Petr Hladík (Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic), Michaela Hletková Ploszeková (Volkswagen Slovakia and Association of the Automotive Industry of the Slovak Republic), Michaela Chaloupková (CEZ Group), Michal Kišša (Pontis Foundation), Hana Kovářová (Komerční banka) or Milan Pospíšil (VŠCHT).

Not living in a bubble Not only in the first break, the participants took a guided tour of posters of sustainable projects. “The main goal was to present as many successful sustainable projects as possible. Due to the limited capacity of the conference programme, not all nominated projects can be included, so we have included a special section common at scientific congresses – the poster gallery.” informs Kateřina Osterrothová. Throughout the day, individual projects were presented in paper stands. (Posters of the sustainable projects listed in the gallery are also available online at this link.

During the first break there was also a presentation entitled “Is Sustainability a Bubble? Or it is not only sustainability that makes a person alive”. Based on a consumer survey, they answered Tereza Horáková Tomáš Macků (both Ipsos) whether the abbreviations ESG, CSRD, ESRS or DEI are not just a modern “newspeak” of regulators and sustainability managers and executives, but not understood by the general population. In short, whether sustainability and its “protagonists ” are living in a bit of a bubble. The survey suggested that it does to some extent, but on the other hand the data shows that consumers are very interested in environmental protection.

Science Café

From noon onwards, the Summit also included a Science Café, or expert lecture session, focusing on news, research and development in the field of sustainability, circular economy and raw material security. There was talk, for example, of. on sustainable development strategies in universities (Kateřina Klepačová, UCEEB CTU), on social responsibility and sustainable integrity of the organization (Jiří Nesiba, Mendel University in Brno), preparation of national and regional adaptation plans to climate change in Uzbekistan (Eva Čechová, Dekonta), ESG Rating(Ivan Balogh, VŠE), potential of home gardens in the framework of food system transformation(Jan Matuštík, ČOZP UK, SUPRE VŠCHT) or analysis of material flows of waste mobile phones(Martina Hájková, SUPRE VŠCHT). Other presentations were on sustainable production of interior lighting (Hana Brunhoferová, SUPRE VŠCHT), the toxicological impact of steel production on the human body(Ivanna Harasymchuk, SUPRE VŠCHT), the allocation of environmental impacts in the world of metals(David Nováček, SUPRE VŠCHT), the carbon footprint of the national energy mix(Iveta Hrdá, SUPRE VŠCHT) or the SBToolCZ tool in the context of the EU Taxonomy(Jakub Diviš, UCEEB ČVUT).

The best sustainable projects

The Czech & Slovak Sustainability Summit provides a chance to present ideas that can inspire other companies. In the second programme session, attendees were introduced to the projects selected by the Summit’s Scientific Council, which asked for evidence and concrete data. The following ten were introduced:

All ten projects received awards Sustainability Star Award, which was presented at the end of this programme block. “Because the researchers deserve recognition and we also want to encourage the spread of sustainable practices, the selected ten will receive a lot of media support. In the area of B2B communication, it is mainly the Atoz Group, and in relation to consumers, Active Radio with its stations Evropa 2 or Frekvence 1,” notes Jeffrey Osterroth.

Six key areas, six workshops

A new feature of the conference programme of the second edition of the Sustainability Summit was the afternoon workshops, which were held in parallel. So if someone wanted to actively participate, they had to agree to sit at a round table and debate for two and a half hours. Those who did not want to participate in the 150-minute active debate sat aside as “free actors” and watched the action. Depending on their mood or the topic at hand, they could switch from one workshop to another.

Workshop Decarbonisation and environmental aspects of sustainability (moderated by Prof. Vladimír Kočí , VŠCHT Praha) focused on the “E” in ESG – the environmental aspect of sustainability, which has long been a dominant part of companies’ sustainability efforts. Much of the focus has been on decarbonisation, as this is where companies have been implementing most of their policies to help meet the target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era.

Biodiversity and ecosystems section (featured Vojtěch Kotecký , Centre for Environmental Issues, Charles University) focused on biodiversity, which is an important element of the economy and the key to a sustainable future for businesses.

The third session was entitled Financing and Connecting for Sustainable Business (the debate was led by Monika Vrbková Michal Veselý , JIC). Companies are often faced with a lack of funds, without which it is difficult to operate successfully. This applies to both established companies and start-ups.

The next workshop attracted the topic of social aspects of sustainability (moderated by Kateřina Krebsová Peter Sattler , Horváth & Partners). The impact, risks and opportunities of CSRD reporting for companies, employee-focused initiatives within the DEI (Diversity, Equality and Inclusion) concept, the role of employees in the entire value chain and the company’s efforts to win over consumers and other stakeholders to the idea of sustainability were discussed.

The fifth session focused on sustainability marketing and communication (they presented Lenka Mynářová Vladimír Víšek , No Greenwashing). During the presentations and discussions, participants discussed the new Green Claims Directive, which addresses the prevention of greenwashing, knowledge of legislation to prevent greenwashing, and requirements for substantiating and verifying environmental claims.

Finally, the sixth workshop focused on ESG reporting (led by David Janků , Frank Bold Advisory). At the heart of the workshop was the topic of double materiality analysis, which is a crucial step towards successful sustainability reporting under the new CSRD and ESRS standards. To adequately report according to these practices, companies must first conduct a double materiality analysis and identify their sustainability impacts, risks and opportunities.

Pub. Mark: Sustainable

The conference programme was followed by the Sustainable Pub, a pleasant and informal end of the day with good food, drinks, entertainment, in short, a space perfect for networking between susmans and susmaniacs. Tasty vegan and vegetarian food from the workshop or rather kitchen of Filip Sajler was served, the “straw hero” Ječ-man (featured in Plzeňský Prazdroj’s campaign for the project to support the cultivation of Czech malting barley) was on tap and sustainable wine produced by the Vilavin gravity winery was also tasted. In addition, the charismatic band Carisma played live and “rocked” Cubex with Latin music.

Details about the Czech & Slovak Sustainability Summit 2024 can be found on the website www.sustainabilitysummit.cz . A photo gallery, press release, poster gallery, promotional video or a comprehensive report of several dozen pages will be added gradually.

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