Founded in 2007, the Business Council for Sustainable Development in Hungary (BCSDH) announces a major sustainability award every year. This year, the ‘For a Sustainable Future Award’ aims to recognize outstanding corporate and leadership performance in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and systemic change. The Managing Director of the organization (that is part of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development – WBCSD), Irén Márta highlights to Diplomacy&Trade why they have chosen this particular theme for the 2023 award, what platforms on key sustainability issues BCSDH's professional activities are built around and how they assist companies to reach their sustainability targets.
She explains that the overuse of natural resources, climate change and the dramatic consequences of biodiversity loss are serious economic, environmental and social problems.
There is a great need today for leaders and companies who understand the systemic interconnections, get to the root of the problems and lead the way in transforming them to become more sustainable. That is why the achievement of sustainable development goals are in the focus of this year’s award.
Looking for innovative, effective solutions
As far as the sub-categories of the award and ‘expectations’ for the future awardees are concerned, the Managing Director points out that “in addition to recommending leaders who are spearheading change as well as women leaders, this year, for the first time, we are inviting applications from companies that have achieved the greatest corporate transformation. In the field of business solutions, we are definitely expecting candidates who have proved themselves with achievements in the field of the ‘Circular economy’, ‘Climate protection and adaptation’ and ‘Conservation and restoration of biodiversity’. We are looking for innovative and effective solutions, ideally implemented in partnership, with the potential for scalability and applicability to others. Candidates in the ‘Change leaders’ and ‘Women leaders’ categories are expected to go well beyond the scope of their job to solve a sustainability problem or transform an entire industry.”
The winners of main and sub-categories of the ‘For a Sustainable Future Award’ will be selected by a jury of prominent members. They include the Secretary of the National Council for Sustainable Development, Dr. Gábor Bartus; media specialist Szilvia Krizsó; BCSDH’s Honorary President, István Salgó; Professor at the Central European University, Dr. Diána Ürge-Vorsatz, who is also the Vice Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III (a Nobel Peace Prize laureate); and Irén Márta, herself. The latter highlights that “in the selection process, it is very important that the objectives and results of the program are in line with the company's strategy, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the national Sustainable Development Strategy. The results should be measurable and well supported. It is an advantage if it is innovative and implemented in partnership.”
BCSDH's professional activities are built around platforms on key sustainability issues (e.g. Circular Economy Platform). The Managing Director believes that the way to solve more complex problems is through the cooperation of different stakeholders. “This is also the case for increasing the circularity of the Hungarian economy. In this context, we have tried to involve a number of organizations, companies, research institutes and regulators in the joint work. We have also established the Net Zero Advisory Board with a focus on climate adaptation and climate protection, which this year we have complemented with biodiversity protection and restoration.”
Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive
The Business Council for Sustainable Development in Hungary runs various working groups on environmental, social and governance (ESG), helping companies to assess sustainability.
Irén Márta stresses the importance of the European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is a law that prescribes requirements for organizations to report sustainability disclosures across several topics pertaining to environmental and social issues, and improve non-financial reporting. She notes that “this EU regulation will directly affect at least a thousand domestic companies in Hungary from the beginning of next year, reaching domestic SMEs through their supply chains in no time. We are trying to prepare BCSDH’s 135 member companies for this in the first instance through workshops and training. In addition to learning about the relevant regulations, we will also focus on embedding into strategy, materiality analysis, metrics, integration into company operations, credibility, automation of data collection and corporate best practices. In addition to the topics mentioned above (climate change, biodiversity), we will also address the areas of social impact, awareness raising and credible communication. I am very proud that well over 300 leaders have already graduated from our 'Leaders of the Future' talent program.”
Busy for the rest of the year
The BCSDH calendar is full of conferences and other events. As regards the highlights for the rest of the year, the Managing Director emphasizes that “a recap of our annual professional work and the presentation of the Sustainable Future Awards will take place on October 12 at the BCSDH Business Lunch where the main speaker of the event will be Dr. György Tilesch, an expert in artificial intelligence (A.I.), senior executive and consultant, working primarily in the transatlantic space across sectors and industries, specializing in AI Strategy, Ethics, Impact, Policy, and Governance. He will analyze the links between artificial intelligence and sustainability. On November 8, we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of our ‘Future Leaders’ talent program with alumni and mentors as well as with Rodney Irwin, COO of the WBCSD and also the head of the World Council of Leaders program, as our guest of honor. On November 23, the ‘Circular Economy Summit’ will bring together a range of international experts and companies to share their experiences and best practices,” she concludes.
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