CSR Europe is the leading European business network for Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility. Through its network of around 39 corporate members and 41 National CSR organizations, it gathers over 10,000 companies and acts as a platform for those businesses looking to enhance sustainable growth and positively contribute to society.
We interviewed Marco Matrisciano, Sustainability Manager for CSR Europe, in order to see how is he focusing on supporting companies across different industries in integrating ESG elements in strategy and investment decision. Marco is a sustainability professional and a foresight trainer with experience in business collaboration and design thinking. During the years, he successfully developed multi-stakeholder framework within business and academia linked to system change and sustainable development.
The interview was initially published in November 2021, in the bilingual yearbook Community Index Magazine no. 3, printed edition. It can be ordered here: https://communityindex.ro/community-index-magazine-2021/
1. Your goal at CSR Europe is mainstreaming sustainability. How do you scale up the impact of individual efforts made by companies, industry federations and EU leaders?
Mainstreaming sustainability starts with the projection of trends into different scenarios around diverse alternative futures where companies and sectors can have a better impact on society. EU leaders have the responsibility to enhance the convergence of the society towards a most plausible and sustainable scenario. I believe that supporting companies in their journey in integrating sustainability does not just mean working to minimize their impact on the planet as a business, but growing their ambition to play a leadership role in society by inspiring and implementing solutions to societal and environmental challenges.
To engage these stakeholders in practical, impact-oriented projects, I am responsible for corporate engagement in the CSR Europe’s Pact for Sustainable Industry, building partnerships with representatives from 40 different industry sectors and more than 200 European business associations. Securing the engagement of companies and associations begins with the assessment of their level of maturity and readiness of the sustainability strategy. The objective is to identify common pathways and priorities to explore inter or cross-sectorial collaboration.
2. If we particularly talk about sustainable practices in sports, would mainstreaming them increase the awareness of the broader public towards these issues?
Despite the growing awareness of the population, still a lot needs to be done to reach those who have zero or low knowledge of the principles of sustainability. Professional athletes and sporting organizations must lead by example, given the role they have in our society. We become fans of their gesture as children, and it cannot be ignored how important these role models are in influencing future generations. Last year, we have seen sports pitches becoming a global stage to deliver messages against racism and address social justice issues. Keeping the focus that much on the social component has grown also in ESG investing. Also, sport brands can finally benefit from more awareness in the society and support athletes ready to step up in order to move the conversation forward.
3. You are a target-oriented project manager, working in the sustainability field. While setting sustainability performance targets can be difficult, what are the best ways to be successful?
For measuring the impact on the environment, we can benefit from the work done by leading organization supporting companies and industry sector to design their strategy to achieve science-based targets. Meaning preventing climate change by limiting global warming to well-below 2°C.
For tackling social issues, the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals are providing targets and indicators to leave no one behind. We have all the tools to design potential pathways towards a more sustainable economy. Building sustainable scenarios is a good approach to start. It gives the opportunity to people and organizations to explore alternative futures by integrating concrete targets in their strategy. Especially, when exploring these scenarios help to identify with which group of stakeholders a company must engage in order to achieve its targets.
4. How can companies encourage their employees and business partners to show more genuine commitment to CSR?
By showing positive impact. If a company is committed, it should always seek innovative strategy and tactics to foster impactful change. But translating those strategies into actions require the collaboration of employees and business partners.
Engaging employees helps companies to create shared commitments. While regarding other stakeholders, implementing sustainable business models requires building partnership only with those partners who can contribute to strategy.
5. In what ways does sustainability mean new growth and job opportunities in Europe?
The debate around the impact on job creation of a transition towards a low carbon society started in Europe already across the years 2000’ with the transformation of the European energy sector. Since the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, there has been an increasing quantification of the employment effects of these policies. The launch of the European Green Deal with its ambitious targets and roadmap for Europe towards 2050 has been particularly supported by the potential number of jobs creation. Not just for the direct impact on a country or region, but for the spillover effect amplified by an increasingly globalized world.
The estimation around the industrial transformation of the next 20-25 years turns around the capacity of the Union to develop new technology and upskill or reskill the workforce. The economic transformation towards low carbon society that we are experiencing at a faster pace has an impact not only on the creation of jobs, but also on the development of a globally competitive industry based on technology shift and not labor costs. But as described also in a study of the European Commission on the “Paths towards a sustainable industry in 2035”, the development of “Green Industries” can create a large number of green jobs but also job loss and shift in those sectors, particularly carbon intensive.