Athens, 11 June 2019: In an anniversary event held today at the premises of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), with the participation of politicians, businesses and academia and as keynote speaker the Governor of the Bank of Greece, Ioannis Stournaras, the SEV Business Council for Sustainable Development (SEVBCSD) presented the highlights of its decade-long work, all the while emphasizing the necessary steps towards achieving sustainable development in Greece.
SEVBCSD was founded on 11 November 2008 with the aim of promoting Sustainable Development as a modern framework for comprehensive economic, environmental and social development and representing, at the same time, businesses in the dialogue with the state and society, in general. Since its establishment, the Council's aim has been to emphasize the competitive advantage gained by companies by integrating sustainable development into their strategy.
SEVBCSD has been a pioneer institution, introducing early in the country's public debate issues such as Climate Change, Environmental Legislation, Circular Economy, and the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals, responsibly informing businesses on the underlying challenges and opportunities. The progress of Greek businesses during recent years has been significant. By contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building infrastructure for circular economy, recycling and recovering raw materials, businesses have demonstrated not only that they can but also that they should be a key driver in sustainable development. Nowadays, the aforementioned issues are constantly drawing governments’ but also financial institutions’ attention as a tool for assessing investment, creating new potential and expectations for the fulfillment of the long-term commitments.
SEVBCSD is a partner of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) Global Network, an alliance of more than 60 CEO-led business organizations worldwide. The Network, encompassing some 5,000 companies, is united by a shared commitment to provide business leadership for sustainable development in their respective countries and regions.
Mr. Ioannis Stournaras, who, in the context of the event, addressed the above critical issues, stated: "Current circumstances are particularly important in the light of Climate Change, as appropriate policy responses delay, leading to a climate crisis. In this context, four aspects are emerging as key prerequisites for achieving sustainable growth: circular economy, energy transformation, environmental protection and the creation of value for society".
Mr. Socratis Fammelos, Deputy Minister for the Environment, Energy and Climate Change, stressed: “In just 4.5 years we have achieved very important reforms, proving that the “contradiction” between environmental protection and the attraction of investment is false. Greece is no longer Europe's “black sheep” when it comes to environmental issues. Circular economy is now at the heart of our country's Development Strategy and we have created conditions for our country to have more freedom of action and essential conditions for prosperity and progress”.
Mr. Kostas Skrekas, Nea Dimokratia MP, former Minister of Development and Competitiveness and Nea Dimokratia shadow cabinet member on energy issues, said: "Our country needs to move forward with a planning encompassing both welfare and infrastructure. Our policy should focus on two directions: on the one hand, eliminate the causes of Climate Change, by adopting measures reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the production process and in the production of electricity, both domestically and in transportations; at the same time, mitigate the effects of Climate Change, for example through flood prevention measures. Our country has all the potential but bold reforms and accelerating moves towards Sustainable Development are required."
Mr. Yiannis Maniatis KINAL MP, former Deputy Minister of the Environment, stated: "The path towards Sustainable Development requires trust in citizens and investors alike. It also requires transparency, accountability and healthy competition by taking advantage of new technologies. Environmental legislation must ensure a balance between accelerating and simplifying permission granting processes, but also environmental protection. Finally, a non-phobic State that can work closely with the private sector through certified private scientists is also needed."
During the event, the Founding President of SEVBCSD, Mr. Efthimios O. Vidalis, who was awarded the title of Honorary President as a recognition of his longstanding contribution, stated: "I would like to thank the General Assembly for bestowing upon me the title of the Honorary President of our Council, I am exceptionally honored. I interpret this recognition as a reward for the collective effort that we launched back in the autumn of 2008 with the aim of informing and raising awareness of both business and society in addressing and resolving the critical challenges of Sustainable Development. I am really delighted that the Council is continuing on this path and improving the process of social dialogue, at a time when society and businesses understand the need for Sustainable Development, creating better prospects for future generations."
In his statement, Mr. Yiannis Paniaras, President of SEVBCSD, stressed: "Sustainable Development requires a balanced approach based on three pillars: economy, environment and society. In the long run, any development effort that ignores one of these three pillars is doomed to fail. As SEVBCSD, we will continue to encourage and represent in the public dialogue the enterprises that want, can and must support the effort to achieve the goal of Sustainable Development in our country. We need it as a generation today and we owe it to the generations of tomorrow."
Mr Peter. Bakker, President and CEO of WBCSD stated: “The Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement signal the need for a deep change in the way our economies work, and in the way our energy, mobility, urbanization, food and social systems contribute to planetary and societal well-being. WBCSD advocates that business has a leading role to play as the world embarks upon this vital journey. In fact, forward-looking companies are not only integrating sustainability at the core of their strategy, decision-making, and disclosures; as long-standing masters of innovation, they are also ideally positioned to become the implementation partner of choice to capture opportunities across systems change. In this effort, we are proud to count on SEV BCSD Greece – a steadfast partner within our Global Network of partner organizations for the last decade in our shared commitment to provide business leadership for sustainable development, in addition to being an effective amplifier of the business voice around the need to scale up solutions. Congratulations on this important anniversary, and long life to its strife in making more sustainable companies more successful in Greece and beyond.”
General Manager, SEVBCSD