Leaders Honored at 2023 ‘For a Sustainable Future’ Awards

Awards

2023 ‘For a Sustainable Future’ award winners with BCSDH president Attila Chikán Jr. (far left) and BCSDH director Irén Márta (far right).

The Business Council for Sustainable Development in Hungary (BCSDH) celebrated significant progress in corporate sustainability at the 2023 “For a Sustainable Future Awards” in Budapest. Amid growing concerns about biodiversity loss, the event highlighted the need for business-led environmental stewardship.

The awards ceremony and business lunch took place on Oct. 12, 2023, recognizing notable contributions to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and systemic sustainability change. A wide range of companies and individuals were honored, demonstrating the growing engagement of the Hungarian business sector in global sustainability initiatives.

The ceremony underscored the business risk posed by biodiversity loss, an issue now perceived as more immediate than climate change. Nearly half of global GDP is linked to nature, underscoring the urgent need for corporate engagement in biodiversity restoration and nature-based climate solutions.

At its business lunch, BCSDH presented a three-point recommendation for increased business engagement in biodiversity conservation. BCSDH’s Gréeta Nagy and AI expert George Tilesch explored the potential of human-centered AI to address sustainability challenges, emphasizing the synergy between technological advances and nature-based solutions. Tilesch clarified the symbiotic relationship between AI and nature.

“The most powerful tool humanity has been given, thanks to AI, is also the best instrument to solve civilization’s problems. However, this will only work if we can make it human-centered,” he said.

BCSDH president Attila Chikán Jr. underscored the importance of addressing biodiversity loss, citing a World Economic Forum report identifying it as one ofthe most serious global risks.

“Biodiversity loss is not only an environmental challenge but also a significant business risk that could have far-reaching effects on the global economy. It’s imperative that the business sector responds robustly to mitigate this loss, demonstrating that this is both an environmental and a business priority,” Chikán noted.

AI expert George Tilesch explored the potential of human-centered AI to address sustainability challenges.

‘Time to Transform’

During the event, the BCSDH unveiled its “Time to Transform 2030” framework, which presents three strategic recommendations for the business sector. The first encourages companies to conduct organizational impact assessments to understand and act on their role in conserving and restoring natural diversity. By understanding the environmental impacts of their operations, companies can develop strategies to mitigate adverse effects and enhance biodiversity.

The second recommendation urges the adoption of strategic initiatives that integrate natural diversity into corporate decision-making processes. The BCSDH emphasizes the importance of this step in cultivating a culture of sustainability within corporate environments, which can lead to a more sustainable operating framework.

The third suggestion promotes a holistic approach to value chain management by advocating partnerships and collaborations. According to the BCSDH, such collaborative efforts are instrumental in creating a unified framework of sustainable practices across the value chain and guiding the community toward achieving common sustainability goals.

As part of the event, an executive roundtable moderated by Irén Márta, director of the BCSDH, saw industry leaders share practical steps toward achieving sustainability. The discussion facilitated the sharing of diverse ideas and strategies, contributing to the collective effort to promote a sustainable business landscape. More than just an awards ceremony, this dialogue contributed to advancing the sustainability agenda by enabling meaningful discussions among participants.

Now in its seventh year, the green business awards have adapted to a dynamic business environment and current challenges. The panel of judges, consisting of Gábor Bartus, Szilvia Krizsó, Irén Márta, István Salgó and Diána Ürge-Vorsatz, recognized companies and individuals who have made significant progress in integrating sustainability into their operations.

The “Change Leader” award went to Balázs Báthory of Market Építő. “Aligning business operations with environmental goals is not only a responsibility but also a strategic necessity in today’s market,” he said.

Fostering Sustainability

The “Leading Women” award highlighted the dedicated efforts of Andrea Koncsikné Káli of BDL-Pureco Group and Krisztina Schubauer of Exim Hungary. Schubauer said, “Leadership in promoting environmental responsibility is about fostering a culture of sustainability within our teams and extending this ethos to our broader business networks.”

In the “Business Solutions” category, notable projects such as Ikea Hungary’s “Second Life for Furniture” initiative, Nestlé Hungária’s “Regenerative Farming Project,” and Graphisoft Park SE’s “Nature-Oriented Urban Office Park” were recognized for demonstrating scalable models for reducing environmental impact.

In the “Facilitating Business Transformation” category, Opten Informatikai Ltd.’s ESG Solutions for SMEs, which provides resources to help small- and medium-sized enterprises on their sustainability journey, was highlighted. Generali Hungary won the “Business Transformation” award, marking a significant step forward in integrating sustainability into core business strategies.

Deloitte and E.ON provided additional support for the event, while ALD|LeasePlan, Alteo and Unilever sponsored BCSDH’s carbon-conscious events, reinforcing the collaborative push towards a more sustainable business landscape.

Beyond the awards, the event facilitated pragmatic business-led discussions on biodiversity preservation. The dialogue between Gréta Nagy and George Tilesch, coupled with the executive roundtable, enriched the debate on aligning technological development with environmental conservation.

The “For a Sustainable Future Awards 2023” underscored the vital role of corporate engagement in addressing environmental issues. The BCSDH says the discussions fostered at the event aim to catalyze a collective shift towards a sustainable business paradigm in Hungary, ushering in an era of corporate responsibility aligned with environmental stewardship.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of October 20, 2023.

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