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Initiative encourages substantive sustainability in Hungary

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From the Budapest Business Journal print editon: In Hungary, there was a time when business bigwigs loved to issue a press release on the latest sustainability objectives. The PR box was ticked, but nothing normally followed. Hollow words will no longer do when dealing with the trendy ‘s’-word: Today, sustainability requires center-stage attention at the executive level or it is gone for good.

The Business Council for Sustainable Development in Hungary (BCSDH) strives to talk as many corporate leaders as possible into taking the path to action. Its ‘Recommendation for Business Leaders’ has been signed by the top executives of 80 undertakings and business organizations whose combined output makes up nearly one-quarter of Hungary’s GDP. The signatories therefore have a major impact in economic, environmental and social aspects.

“In drawing up the ‘Recommendation’, we had a double aim. We wanted to lay down the principles that rule sustainable corporate operations in the 21st century,” BCSDH director Ida Petrik told the Budapest Business Journal. “We also needed a tool to reach out to senior executives on a wide scale through the idea of sustainability.”

Environment to the fore
These efforts aim to widen the scope of potential believers. This year a new working group will be set up to deal with the supply chain. Last year a survey was conducted among those who had signed the ‘Recommendation’ that inquired to what extent, in their opinion, sustainability prevails in the Hungarian business world (for details see chart).

According to the results, from amongst the ruling principles it is environmental aspects that are most widely taken into account.

As an oil and gas company, the MOL Group bears an extra responsibility to meet the relevant long-term requirements. “In the field of climate change, our energy efficiency program has the biggest impact through which CO2 emissions went down by 180,000 tons in 2013 on a yearly basis,” MOL said in a statement to the BBJ. “MOL Group also has facilities in regions stricken by water scarcity such as Iraq or Pakistan, where water management plans are drawn up.”

Transparent objections
Transparency was identified as the least respected aspect of sustainability in the BCSDH study. “In the business sector there are no incentives in this regard,” Petrik pointed out. “In the case of listed companies, expectations are different. They are required to reveal data not only on their economic activity, but also on their environmental or social footprint.”

Telenor Hungary, another signatory to the BCSDH document, prides itself on promoting transparency values. “Our company was the first mobile provider in Hungary to join the Corporate Support Forum of Transparency International Hungary, an anticorruption NGO,” Telenor said.

As a result of the cooperation, a practical anticorruption guide has been put together aimed primarily at Hungarian SMEs. The Telenor Ethical Business Award also founded aims to present and promote domestic best practices -- hopefully this is yet another sign showing corporate-side sustainability will require substance.

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