Event Highlights from Bloomberg Sustainable Business Summit Global

Event Highlights

Sustainable Business Summit Global
November 30 – December 1, 2020

By Bloomberg Live

The Bloomberg Sustainable Business Summit Global brings together business leaders and investors globally to drive innovation and scale best practices in sustainable business and finance.

This global event spans key markets and time zones, leveraging Bloomberg’s unrivaled markets expertise to convene conversations uniquely focused on the risks and opportunities for corporate executives and forward-thinking investors in a 21st-century economy.

Over the course of two days we covered the following themes:

Staying Below 2 Degrees: Many business and finance leaders have embraced climate action as an opportunity, providing innovative corporate and finance solutions that are creating a positive impact on both their business and the planet. From net-zero carbon commitments to the circular economy, we examined how companies and investors are working to combat climate change.

The Financial Case for Sustainability: Business and finance executives shared examples of how investing in sustainability has helped their bottom line, proving that you can achieve both purpose and higher profits.

Beyond Shareholders: How can companies create an impact for all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders? We discussed solutions for managing a global workforce, empowering the workforce of the future, creating a diverse and inclusive workforce, investing in the “S” in ESG,  and how your company can turn values into action.

At Bloomberg’s Sustainable Business Summit, Bloomberg’s editorial team had a series of conversations with key business leaders and policy makers. Speakers included:


Click here to view video of today’s event.

Speakers  included:

  • Asheesh Advani, President & CEO, JA Worldwide
  • Matthias Berninger, SVP of Public Affairs & Sustainability, Bayer
  • Sarah Bratton Hughes, Head of Sustainability, North America Schroders
  • Maya Chorengel, Co-Managing Partner, The Rise Fund
  • Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President, The Club of Rome
  • Mary Draves, Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S), Dow Inc.
  • Alison Fenton-Willock,  SVP & Global Head of ESG, Blackstone
  • Anne M. Finucane, Vice Chairman, Bank of America
  • David Gitlin, President & CEO, Carrier
  • Cameron Hepburn, Professor of Environmental Economics, University of Oxford
  • Andrew Howard, Global Head of Sustainable Investment, Schroders
  • Patrice Impey, General Manager, Finance, Risk and Supply Chain Management and CFO, City of Vancouver
  • Jenna Johnson, Head of Patagonia, Inc.
  • Zoë Knight, Managing Director and Group Head, HSBC Centre of Sustainable Finance
  • Mathias Lelievre, Chief Executive Officer, ENGIE Impact
  • Mark Lewis, Global Head of Sustainability Research, BNP Paribas Asset Management
  • Julie Linn Teigland, EMEIA Area Managing Partner, EY
  • Nicolai Lundy, Director of Partnerships and Market Outreach, SASB
  • Adam Matthews, Director, Ethics and Engagement, Church of England Pensions Board
  • Steve Mennill, Chief Climate Officer, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
  • Bertrand Millot, Vice-President, Risk Management, Fixed Income and Head of Climate Risk and Issues, CDPQ
  • Kristi Mitchem, CEO, BMO Global Asset Management
  • Dr. Carol O’Donnell, Director, Smithsonian Science Education Center
  • Claire O’Neill, Managing Director, Climate & Energy, WBCSD
  • Beatriz Perez, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications, Public Affairs, Sustainability and Marketing Assets Officer, The Coca-Cola Company
  • Tchernavia Rocker, EVP, Chief Administrative and People Officer, Under Armour
  • Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President, The Rockefeller Foundation
  • Anne Simpson, Interim Managing Investment Director, Board Governance & Sustainability, CalPERS
  • Anna Snider, Head of CIO Due Diligence, Merrill Lynch
  • Roy Swan, Director, Mission Investments, Ford Foundation
  • Zeynep Ton, Professor of the Practice, MIT Sloan School of Management


Bloomberg participants:

  • Lisa Abramowicz, Co-Host, Bloomberg Radio and Television
  • Sonali Basak, Wall Street Reporter, Bloomberg
  • Nat Bullard, Chief Content Officer, Bloomberg NEF
  • Sharon Chen, London Editor, Bloomberg Green
  • Adeline Diab, Head of ESG & Thematic Investing EMEA, Bloomberg Intelligence
  • Derek Decloet, Managing Editor, Bloomberg Canada
  • John Fraher, Senior Executive Editor, Bloomberg 
  • Jillian Goodman, Reporter, Bloomberg Green
  • Lauren Kiel, General Manager, Bloomberg Green
  • Kailey Leinz, Reporter and Producer, Bloomberg TV
  • Annie Massa, Investing Reporter, Bloomberg
  • Carol Massar, Anchor, Bloomberg Businessweek TV and Radio
  • Laura Millan, Reporter, Bloomberg Green
  • Didem Nisanci, Global Head of Public Policy, Bloomberg


Event Highlights:

  • On the state of Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD):When asked about the Covid-19’s impact on climate-related financial disclosures, Mark Lewis, Global Head of Sustainability Research, BNP Paribas Asset Management, says he’s seen the pandemic accelerating TCFD implementation. “The issue is that financial markets price everything off growth. What we’re seeing now is – financial markets realize growth in fossil fuels is definitively over.”
  • On the challenges of vaccine distribution: “Today, 25% of vaccines get wasted due to logistics issues or cold chain challenges,” says David Gitlin, President and CEO of Carrier, regarding the challenges of getting Covid-19 vaccine into people’s hands. Gitlin says Moderna vaccines would need to be stored at -20°C and Pfizer vaccines at -70°C, presenting Herculean challenges to safe distribution.
  • On conscious sustainability: Jenna Johnson, head of Patagonia stressed that environmental conservation is core to the company’s business. “You often hear there is no business to be done on a dead planet, and that’s exactly how we feel. We are running out of time,” Johnson said.
  • On investing in human capital:  When asked how the pandemic revealed the importance of businesses’ social responsibility, Zeynep Ton, Professor at MIT Sloan School of Management, said the frontline essential workers have been left behind. Ton also says many workers in the low-wage sector tend to be immigrants, Black or Hispanic and that the “racial justice and racial injustice tend to be very correlated.”
  • On measuring impact with ESG data: Maya Chorengel, Co-Managing Partner at The Rise Fund, says her firm uses data evidence tied to academic research very discreetly when gauging a company’s potential for social returns. For example, when evaluating a financial services company, Chorengel says she studies whether the product “actually promotes better spending and saving habits and more responsible credit behavior.”
  • On impact investing: Joanna Reiss, Co-lead of Impact, Apollo Global Management Inc. stressed the importance of identifying a place for private enterprise within the wider context of making a positive difference to the world. “We respect the role of government and philanthropy, but we feel there is a third lane where business can drive change and we want to stay in that lane”, she said. Reiss went on to say that one of Apollo’s strategies for influencing change is “that we’ll invest in one company and it will influence its competitors by showing a path towards having positive externalities.”
  • On the acceleration of digital transformation and sustainable growth: “More’s Law is alive and well”, says Bob Swan, CEO, Intel. However, at the same time, he cautioned that the demands for compute are as expansive as they’ve ever been, with Covid putting digital transformation across the board on steroids. Swan said that the resulting demand for always-on access to technology has meant that “in so many ways for us 2020 is going to be the biggest year in our company’s history”. Swan acknowledged that driving socially responsible and sustainable business growth is one of the reasons for the importance of this moment: “We know if we make socially responsible progress, then our customers will care more, employees really care, the communities in which we operate really care and investors really care,” he said.
  • On the future of energy: Lynn Good, Chair, President & CEO, Duke Energy set out the company’s emission reduction targets and specific energy strategies for the years ahead. “As we stand here today, our carbon emissions are down 39% from 2005 and we want to build on this”, she said. Duke Energy has committed to get to at least 50% reduction of carbon emissions by 2030 and to net zero by 2050. Good proposes to achieve this through a combination of “retirement of coal, addition of renewables and storage, and nuclear will be part of the equation.”
  • On the green deal: When asked how likely it was that the funding for the green deal would actually come through, Claire O’Neill, Managing Director, Climate & Energy, WBCSD,said she was an optimist, stating, “For once the world’s largest trading bloc has put its money where it’s mouth is.” O’Neill described the deal as “an incredibly holistic approach to build back better and build back greener.” She said she was positive about it going through given the jobs it will generate and the fact that it is a really big, bold package.
  • On whether the green stimulus can spark a green recovery: Cameron Hepburn, Professor of Environmental Economics, University of Oxford, said he was also optimistic, saying the EU is taking a great lead on plans today that will have a positive impact in the future. “The jobs, intensive areas are quite significant,  and this is just a very sensible thing to be doing at this point in time.” On pushing for net zero, Hepburn commented, “We’ve never been in this situation where so many countries have stepped up and the big ones in particular. We’re in a place where we haven’t been before in climate discussions, we’re at a bunch of tipping points now – politics has moved fast, so has public opinion. it’s not about whether we do this – we will – it’s whether we do this fast enough.”
  • On defining corporate sustainability: Beatriz Perez, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications, Public Affairs, Sustainability and Marketing Assets Officer, The Coca-Cola Company, talked about the importance for Coca-Cola and other businesses to focus on science-based targets. When asked about tackling waste, Perez stated, “Internally, we talk about our ambition to move to a zero-waste business, across water, energy, the whole area of sustainability. We know these are very big problems that have to be solved. While today we don’t publicly talk about our internal zero-waste ambition, we do have a zero-waste ambition.”
  • On empowering the workforce of the future: Julie Linn Teigland, EMEIA Area Managing Partner, EY, described the different make up of the future workforce. “Gen Z is really different – they’re YouTube educated, digitally native and full of optimism. They don’t just believe in climate change, they are fighting for the health of our planet and they really realize that they have to deal with those consequences.”
  • On building authenticity: Asheesh Advani, President & CEO, JA Worldwide, stressed the importance of hearing a diverse range of young people’s voices in the workplace. “One-to-one relationships between adults and young people create that mentorship or reverse mentoring arrangement. We’ve heard from so many corporate executives how a job shadow experience helped them as much as it helped the young person change their perspective on things which are critical business decisions and organizational decisions which impact the world.”
  • On whether we are equipping Gen Z with the right tools: There’s a critical push back from students about the way they are being educated to deal with the world they are facing, according to Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President, The Club of Rome. “This generation clearly understands that there is a limit to growth and they understand that they are the change makers. They are the ones that within their entrepreneurial activities want to totally shift the way we produce, we innovate and the way we disrupt and they are integrating that in the way they are setting up businesses.”  Dixson-Declève continued, Students of today feel that they are not being taught properly to do what they need to do to be these change agents. They’re starting to push back at university level, within master’s programs, really holding universities accountable for not really going into what is complex thinking, the multi-disciplinary skills that these change agents need. My worry is that many of them are feeling they don’t want to go to university anymore to actually learn.”
  • On educating for a sustainable tomorrow: Describing their approach to teaching young school age children,  Dr. Carol O’Donnell, Director, Smithsonian Science Education Center, explained, “Our sole vision is to increase and diffuse knowledge. We’re looking at what we can do for very young students to prepare them for a future that we don’t fully understand and to prepare them for a workforce and society that has a lot of questions ahead of us.” O’Donnell continued, “We’re trying to get students to move from just executing an action that someone tells them to do, like recycle plastic, to them actually being much more informed and understanding why they are doing that, and being much more considered about those actions, recognizing that if I make a decision, it’s not just environmental, it’s also economic or social. And I think the future workforce wants students who are thinking that way.”
  • On Gen Z, the conscious generation: When asked what the biggest difference is between Gen Z and other generations, Tchernavia Rocker, EVP, Chief Administrative and People Officer, Under Armour, said  “They are true digital natives and they have a set of tools and a voice that we haven’t seen in any previous generation, and they are ok using that voice. When you have open voice, it creates a level of voice that this generation requires that you listen more, because they will speak whether you are listening or not, and they are pulling the rest of us along.”
  • On the business case for sustainability: Mary Draves, Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety, Dow Inc., talked about Dow’s  ambition to infuse sustainability into everything that they do. Their first set of goals focused on their footprint, a decade later their second set on their handprint “and now the third set which is about blueprint, collaboration between NGOs and governments to tackle global challenges”.
  • On collaborating to cut CO2 : Mathias Lelievre, Chief Executive Officer, ENGIE Impact, explained how they transformed the business to cut their carbon footprint by more than 50% over four years. “We divested, we shut down, we transformed all the assets that we used to operate were heavily carbonized – coal, oil – and we used the proceeds to reinvest massively into the technologies that are part of the future – renewables and centralized/decentralized low-carbon infrastructures.”
  • On a net zero strategy: Matthias Berninger, SVP of Public Affairs & Sustainability, Bayer, was clear on what is required to become net zero, stating, “Companies have to put their strategy where their mouth is.” Some of the measures Berninger discussed to achieve this included innovation, investing in new energy production and committing to invest in carbon-removal projects.
  • On catalyzing a more equitable green recovery: Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President, The Rockefeller Foundation, thinks this is the time to be decisive. “Now is our moment to make big bold investments. This is the only chance we’re going to get to make sure that a reasonable percentage, the EU target of 30%, goes into a green recovery and green infrastructure and that it’s done in an inclusive way.”
  • On how crucial ESG has become: When discussing the importance of ESG, Anne M. Finucane, Vice Chairman, Bank of America, went back in time.  “Five years ago you might have somebody ask about ESG, but it was last minute and half the room would leave to get a cup of coffee. Today, you have three or four people across the table and they’re all asking you that question and there are metrics they’re evaluating.”
  • On building resilient pension fund portfolios: “You don’t know whether to laugh or cry that it has taken 26 years to get to the point where we’re really digging in on climate change issues,” Anne Simpson, Interim Managing Investment Director, Board Governance & Sustainability, CalPERS, said. Simpson emphasized that the corporate sector is slow to respond to the looming climate crisis.
  • On financing the sustainable transition:  Patrice Impey, CFO of the City of Vancouver says the city is looking to “reduce greenhouse gases by 50% in the next 10 years” and becoming a carbon-neutral city before 2050. Impey reiterated the city’s commitment to create communities that “care about people, environment and opportunities to live, work and prosper.”
  • On defining real circularity: John A. Hayes, Chairman, President & CEO, Ball Corporation, contextualized the importance of circularity with the statistic that the world produces 750 billion tons of waste with less than 15% being recycled. Hayes said that this has been the driver for Ball Corporation to exit materials such as plastics and that the business has “gone all in on aluminum because it is the best product out there from a circularity perspective.” It may well be the next generation who will inherit the planet’s waste problems, but Hayes firmly believes that it is this current generation that needs to put a line in the sand and do something about it.
  • On the circular economy revolution: Ron Gonen, Co-Founder & CEO, Closed Loop Partners, highlighted the importance of being discerning when it comes to plastics and the circular economy.  There are 7 different plastics categories and each has its own value,” Gonen warned. “While some plastics are very valuable in the recycling stream, others have no value at all,” he said. Gonen stressed the importance of graduating the circular economy conversation from broadly discussing plastics to being specific about the type. Plastics have to be a specific commodity that the recycling facility can profit from, if it can’t, then it will end up in landfill, he said.
  • On building the workforce of the future: “For a couple of years, we’ve sought to decentralize our workforce,” Ned Segal, CFO, Twitter, said. “Some people are more productive on their sofa in Montana and others are more productive in an office because of their personality type, their job function, because of where the rest of their team sits”, he said. Segal went on to say that this workforce shift was well under way before the pandemic hit but was substantially accelerated as a result, starting back in March. “We love the places where we have our 35 offices, but we don’t want to be tied to those as we grow our team,” Segal said. Twitter is leveraging technology, tools and processes to allow its  people to do their best work, but Segal cautioned that it will be years before we know the true impact of this time period on productivity.
  • On the financial case for sustainability: Barry Parkin, Chief Procurement and Sustainability Officer, Mars, Inc., said that the benefit of working at a private company is being able to take a longer term view on investment returns in favor of implementing sustainable principles that don’t necessarily have an immediate payback. A specific example of this is Mars’ recent 3-4 year project reimagining and designing their palm oil supply chain, which has resulted in their becoming the first big corporate to be deforestation free, Parkin said. The supply chain redesign also saved the company money and resulted in improved financial returns. Parkin hailed the project as a win-win case in point for implementing sustainability principles while also not resulting in any financial downside. “That’s where the magic happens,” he said.

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