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Go green now, economic forum told

“A celebration of proactive collaboration for a better planet and a better future,” is how Michele Orzan, President of EuCham - European Chamber, defined the second Green Economic Forum.

Michele Orzan, President of EuCham.

Members of numerous organizations and associations attended the forum, which took place in Budapest on November 14, sharing their knowledge, ideas and experience on how to reach and encourage a greener future. “It is better to start a green company now than to become greener later,” commented Veronika Móra, director of the Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation (HEPF). 

The Green Economic Forum is one of the main regional events emphasizing the importance of adapting the businesses to the current environmental needs. “Sustainability is not something lying outside, but it should be an internal skill for every company. And it is not regarding just the environment,” says Daniel Nemet, founder of Ususty, a company developing intelligent waste management solutions.

“We should always remember the importance of the “three Ps”: People, Planet and Profit,” says Orzan. “Interest is growing and nowadays people think that sustainability is important – and not just concerning the business sector. Businessmen alone are not enough. But with the help of the public sector, which is setting rules and minimum requirements, we can expect a better future.”

Environmental due diligence

Several companies shared their experiences, describing successful stories. KPMG, for example, has been engaged by various clients to conduct environmental and social due diligence at their suppliers or potential targets in Hungary. “These reviews allowed the investors or buyers in the value chain to assess and mitigate related non-financial risks, such as material and waste management, energy usage, labor conditions, health and safety issues. Thanks to this kind of independent third party audit, sustainability is considered by entities at a higher level,” István Szabó, manager of climate change and sustainability services at KPMG, told the Budapest Business Journal afterwards. “The Sustainability team of KPMG in Hungary has recently been engaged by different clients in telecommunications, energy, SSC, etc. to assist the management to develop their sustainability strategy or local reporting, ensuring transparency and enhanced stakeholder dialogue,” he continues.

Smaller companies and startup are also carving out space in this market. Gábor Bertényi is founder of Házikó, an agri-social enterprise which has already won an award for sustainable business organized by Magyar Telekom in September.

“The role of the younger generation is crucial,” says Orzan. “The generations of today carry different values to past generations. Young entrepreneurs are starting green companies as soon as they can, and stakeholders are perceiving the difference.” In fact, among speakers at the Green Economic Forum the number of young entrepreneurs running innovative startups was really high. “Multinational companies are pushed to be sustainable and win awards in this field because they are under a bigger umbrella,” continues Orzan. “I see an improvement by Hungarian companies, although they could do even more. But we can also count on young people. Hungarians are innovative, inventors. They really can create something new.”

The eventʼs sponsorship partner was GREENWILL, which is described as “the only non-profit initiative made in Hungary with a worldwide impact”. It provides what it calls “Green Policy” for individuals and organisations for free, available in 30 languages and currently used in more than 110 countries. The Green Policy differs from certifications in the sense that it is a promise to respect the environment, to make that commitment public, and to promote environmentally sustainable practices.

See also Time for action on climate change, former Dutch PM warns, page 8.