Rio+20: Keep the ball rolling

By Patrick Wirth, Managing Director of GES Switzerland

Second day at the PRI in Person conference. We are hearing a lot of insights from other PRI signatory colleagues who are sharing their challenges, struggles or success in following their ESG paths. Some of them have also been engaging with Brazilian companies in the last days. Some of them even joined our colleague Stina Nilsson in her engagement meeting with a company in Porto Seguro, or Palle Ellemann and myself in our meetings in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

While some companies we met just have taken a step to publish a first sustainability report, we also met some of the world’s largest companies within their industry sector who have a long track-record and huge staff dedicated to CSR. Of course it is much easier to influence the first ones. For example the case of a fertilizer company who is importing phosphate from several suppliers, among other from the supplier OPC in Morocco. The management was not aware of the problematic issues of illegal exploitation in Western Sahara associated to this. But they are also not sure whether the phosphate they buy from OPC is really coming from Western Sahara or not. But they want to find out! And this is very positive as it brings another stakeholder on stage to put pressure on OPC to align its phosphate sourcing with international standards.

The coming together and networking at the conference is very inspiring and it provides beneficial networking opportunities. Yes, the mingling includes arguing about the football efforts of the European teams and it is interesting to hear the sharp analysis of our Brazilian colleagues while we enjoy the view on Copacabana. At the same time, we receive not only credit for having engaged with many companies in the past days but also interest in collaboration and assistance for engagement follow ups. Let’s keep the ball rolling!

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