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DNV GL underlines global push for sustainability

A high-level group of sustainability thought leaders convened at Høvik to discuss how DNV GL can fulfil its vision of having global impact for a safe and sustainable future.

Roundtable discussions ongoing with DNV GL President and CEO Henrik O. Madsen.
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Roundtable moderator Jo Confino and DNV GL President & CEO Henrik O. Madsen welcome roundtable participants to Høvik.

On Saturday, June 14, more than 1,000 guests gathered at Oslo Opera House to celebrate the foundation Det Norske Veritas’ 150th anniversary and DNV GL’s first year as a merged company. Among this group, which would later be ferried across the Oslo Fjord for a gala dinner event at DNV GL’s headquarters at Høvik, were 22 specially invited guests: A unique group of sustainability frontrunners who would spend the following two days discussing how DNV GL can help deliver a global push for sustainability.

The roundtable, which took place on Sunday, June 15 and Monday, June 16, was first convened in Copenhagen in November, 2013. There, under the headline Moving Beyond Business As Usual, the need for a new narrative – of changing mindsets by telling the sustainability story in more inspiring and compelling ways – emerged as one of the most essential topics.

The Road Less Travelled: Turning Vision Into Impact

This thread was picked up again as the group reconvened on Sunday, June 15, this time under the headline The Road Less Travelled – a title inspired by the bestselling book by psychiatrist Scott M. Peck, who argues that only by confronting and solving life’s most difficult problems can we grow as human beings. And as participants were reminded in the preparations for the two-day discussion: “Never before has the global community been faced with such tremendous challenges. To tackle them, we must deal with our problems head on; we must all take responsibility and do our part, and accept that we will need to make some sacrifices today to ensure long-term prosperity.”

Regenerative Economy

With a group consisting of influential thought leaders and key players such as Dr Pachauri of the IPCC, Georg Kell of UN Global Compact, Hunter Lovins of Natural Capital Solutions and John Fullerton of Capital Institute (see the full participant list), the roundtable took as its starting point the vision and map of actions laid out in DNV GL’s recently published report, ‘A Safe and Sustainable Future’. The discussions would also hone in especially on the Regenerative Economy: a bold vision for a new economic paradigm developed by John Fullerton. Firmly embedded in DNV GL’s vision for the economy, the Regenerative Economy sets a framework for an economic and financial system which operates in relationship with the ecosphere, serving people and planet in a more equitable and balanced way.

Moderator Jo Confino of the Guardian Sustainable Business opened the discussion on Sunday morning by interviewing DNV GL’s President and CEO Henrik O. Madsen about the company’s corporate vision, followed by a presentation of DNV GL’s wide-reaching sustainability activities in the past year made by ‘A Safe and Sustainable Future’ co-author Cecilie Hultmann.

Large-Scale System Change Needed

After John Fullerton’s had presented his idea of Regenerative Economy, a four-hour discussion took place where particular focus was put on identifying key leverage points for driving the large-scale system change needed to enable the transformation towards a new economy. Both of DNV GL’s Future Young Sustainability Leaders, Alec Loorz and Kasja Li Paludan, provided fresh new perspectives to the discussion around what it takes to change mindsets – an inevitable aspect of enabling such a transformation.

After the discussions, the group was invited to take in the stunning Oslo Fjord scenery aboard the S/S Christiania – Norway’s largest wooden sailing vessel, hailing from 1948. DNV GL’s Chief Sustainability Officer Bjørn Kj. Haugland welcomed guests on board as the ship departed from Høvik Arena, reflecting on Det Norske Veritas’ roots in the maritime industry and the company’s history of adapting to global change. Later, the ship anchored up in a quiet bay where spoken-word poet and YouTube phenomenon Sarah Kay took to the stage to recite a poem written especially for the occasion. Having observed the conversations throughout the day, Kay folded key points from the discussion into her poetry to demonstrate how the sustainability story can indeed be told in different and inspiring ways. She poignantly reminded the group that “none of us alone are heroes – only together can we move and alter the pieces that combined make up the bigger picture.”

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After a long day of discussions, the roundtable guests enjoyed the Oslo Fjord aboard the S/S Christiania, as well as a gripping performance by spoken-word poet and storyteller Sarah Kay.

Changing Mindsets

With this point in mind, the group continued its discussions over into Monday morning, where day two of the roundtable was spent debating how we can move from a map of actions towards a strategy of change, and crucially, what role both the group and DNV GL can play in the process. Breaking into smaller working groups, the roundtable got to work on building a real strategy for changing mindsets and speeding up the transition towards a green, inclusive and regenerative economy. ”There was a sense of optimism in the air as the roundtable came to a close on Monday afternoon, just in time for the launch of Sustainia’s 100 most innovative solutions at Høvik Arena. Fresh seeds sown and new partnerships formed – but now, of course, the real work begins,” said Bjørn K. Haugland.

Read more about DNV GL’s vision to have global impact for a safe and sustainable future here.
Click here to read an interview with John Fullerton in Dagens Næringsliv, and check out the roundtable minisite for more information on the participants and programme for the two days, here.

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