European business leaders to put sustainability at the heart of decision making


GLOBE-Net December 18, 2013

New leadership network established by HRH The Prince of Wales’s Accounting for Sustainability Project to lead the drive for resilient business

The Chief Financial Officers of some of Europe’s pre-eminent corporations have joined forces in a Network aimed at embedding environmental and social issues into company strategy and finances.

The Chief Financial Officer Leadership Network, established by the Accounting for Sustainability (A4S) Project, founded by HRH The Prince of Wales, is the first grouping of its kind to focus on the role CFOs play in integrating environmental and social issues into financial decision making. There is a growing commercial imperative for businesses to take these factors into account if they are to future-proof their organisations; and there is now clear evidence that companies which address environmental and social issues deliver improved commercial returns.

The Network was launched at the eighth A4S Annual Forum. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has welcomed the formation of the network. The Prince said:

“C.F.O.s have a vital role to play in making sure their businesses thrive, not just today, but tomorrow and into the future.  The bottom line is that sustainable business equals good business.  I am therefore delighted that the A4S Chief Financial Officer Leadership Network will play a key role not only in communicating why sustainability makes business sense, but how to start accounting for it.  Our children and grandchildren are depending on it.”

At the launch, the A4S Executive Chairman, Jessica Fries, chaired a panel discussion featuring the A4S CFO Leadership Network Co-Chairs, John Rogers (CFO, Sainsbury’s) and Pierre-André Terisse (CFO, Danone) and Network member Rolf-Dieter Schwalb, CFO, Royal DSM.

Member organisations joining the Network are: Anglian Water, BUPA, Burberry Group, British Land, The Crown Estate, Danone, Royal DSM, Marks & Spencer, National Grid, Sainsbury’s, SSE, South West Water, Unilever, United Utilities, Walmart EMEA and Yorkshire Water.

[stextbox id=”custom” float=”true” align=”left” width=”300″ bcolor=”e5e5e5″ bgcolor=”e5e5e5″ image=”null”]“There is a growing commercial imperative for organisations to take account of environmental and social factors if they are to ‘future-proof’ their organisations.”  Letter from the  Chief Financial Officer Leadership Network [/stextbox]

The Network has come together to demonstrate leadership on how companies should respond to challenges including climate change, a rising and ageing global population, rapid urbanisation, and increased consumption. All these issues are putting unprecedented pressure on natural resources and the fabric of society.

The Chief Financial Officer Leadership Network will focus on developing and sharing successful strategies so these become the ‘norm’ across all businesses. This will include improved modelling of future risk and uncertainty as well as engagement with investors and other stakeholders to increase their understanding of the commercial benefits of sustainable business models.

The Network has set its agenda through a Charter, which states its ambitions and objectives, which are:

  • To support the CFO community in the creation of sustainable business models through strengthening skills, competencies and abilities
  • To share insights, challenges and opportunities to accelerate progress towards accounting for sustainability and collaborate with others to increase the reach and impact of Network activities where opportunities exist
  • To work together to develop new tools, methodologies and approaches where required in order to embed sustainability into internal decision making processes
  • To influence the environment within which organisations operate through engagement with investors and other stakeholder

[stextbox id=”custom” float=”true” align=”right” width=”300″ bcolor=”e5e5e5″ bgcolor=”e5e5e5″ image=”null”]“CFO’s have a vital role to play in making sure their businesses thrive, not just today, but tomorrow and into the future. “The bottom line is that sustainable business equals good business.” HRH The Prince of Wales [/stextbox]

John Rogers, Co-Chair of the A4S CFO Leadership Network and CFO of Sainsbury’s said: 

“HRH The Prince of Wales has rightly recognised the vital importance of bringing sustainability issues into the very heart of corporate governance and accounting. What used to be seen as greenwash needs to become as natural to company finance teams as it is to CR departments or even NGOs.

I’m pleased to be co-chairing this significant new initiative and urge my counterparts in business and public organisations to contribute their skills and experience to the A4S CFO Leadership Network.” 

The CFO Leadership Network members are:

  • Scott Longhurst, Managing Director of Finance & Non Regulated Business, Anglian Water
  • Evelyn Bourke, Chief Financial Officer, BUPA
  • Carol Fairweather, Chief Financial Officer, Burberry Group
  • Pierre-André Terisse, Chief Financial Officer, Danone (Co-Chair)
  • John Rogers, Chief Financial Officer,  J Sainsbury (Co-Chair)
  • Rolf-Dieter Schwalb, Chief Financial Officer, Royal DSM
  • Alan Stewart, Chief Finance Officer, Marks and Spencer
  • Andrew Bonfield, Finance Director, National Grid
  • Susan Davy, Finance and Regulatory Director, South West Water
  • Gregor Alexander, Finance Director, SSE
  • Lucinda Bell, Finance Director, The British Land Company
  • John Lelliott, Director of Finance and Information Systems, The Crown Estate
  • Russ Houlden, Chief Financial Officer, United Utilities
  • Jean-Marc Huët, Chief Financial Officer, Unilever
  • Richard Mayfield, Chief Financial Officer, Walmart EMEA
  • Liz Barber, Group Director of Finance and Regulation, Yorkshire Water

The Charter sets out the work which the Network will be undertaking in its first twelve months, which includes:

  • Developing guidance to improve transparency in decision making including ways to embed sustainability into capital expenditure appraisal
  • Contributing to the development of improved methodologies for the measurement and valuation of natural and social capital in order that they can be taken into account in decision making processes
  • Improving investor engagement on the commercial benefits of sustainable business models

The Network will be extended globally during the course of 2014.

GLOBE-SMALLThe Growing Role of the CFO in Sustainability will be a major topic of discussion at GLOBE 2014 taking place in Vancouver Canada March 26-28, 2014. Check here for more details.


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