Nordic Board Leadership – Sustainability, Innovation and Nordic Corporate Governance

Date: 22 March 2021

Boards Impact Forum


Boards Impact Forum


  • Adele Pran Norman – Chair Zalaris, NED Yara, ABG Sundal 
  • Anna Mossberg – Non-Executive Director, Schibsted, Swedbank, Orcla, Swisscom
  • Harri-Pekka Kaukkonen – Chair, YIT Lindstroml; Non-Executive Director, TietoEvry
  • Svante Forsberg – Chair, Swe Academy BoD; Non-Executive Director, Lannebo Funds
  • Thomas Thune Andersen – Chair, Orsted; Non-Executive Director, Lloyds register
  • Liselotte Engstam – Chair, FCG Group; Non-Executive Director, TietoeEvry, Zalaris, Transtema, S-Group, IMIT, INSEAD IDN

Moderator:Lise Kingo – Non-Executive Director, Sanofi; former CEO and Executive Director, UN Global Compact

Watch the recording: Nordic Board Leadership – Sustainability, Innovation and Nordic Corporate Governance

For climate action to be successful, it has to be a coordinated, joint effort. As moderator Lisa Kingo put it during the Climate Governance Initiative’s Global pre-Summit in March 2021:  “These are big challenges, and nobody will fix them on their own”. Even when countries share a common geography and goal, there are bound to be differences. In the Nordics region, for example, 65% of Finnish companies have sustainability integration in their business models – double that of Norwegian businesses. 

For this session, representatives from across Scandinavia came together to discuss the best way of partnering up to institute concrete change.

“This is about turning business risks into opportunity,” explained Zalaris’ chair, Adele Pran Norman. “Climate change is a very disruptive business factor for many companies.” Sustainability isn’t just a moral necessity, it makes business sense – without action, the risks of employees falling sick, extreme weather conditions causing havoc on production, and adverse working environments decreasing production become increasingly likely. 

With that reality in mind, the session’s key purpose was to understand the responsibility that companies have to drive sustainability into the heart of their business strategies. The panel concluded that companies must measure and report carbon emissions to achieve this – and align their agendas with the findings, which will involve active engagement and investment in supply chains.

Nordic companies are already making great progress. The region boasts companies that have been mapping and comparing their emissions to the UN Sustainability Goals for many years. Companies have to collaborate across the region so that innovative solutions can be shared and rolled out. “Dare to set the bar high,” Anna Mossberg, non-executive director of Schibsted, encouraged. 

A change in culture at board level is already taking place, with climate discussion being integrated into risk analysis and business agenda, which will trickle down through business structures. Svante Forsberg, chair of Swe Academy BoD, spoke about the need to “build on people and culture” in order to drive cultural change. Research has found that often it’s employees who are highly invested in climate action, and boards can and should be taking advantage of this fact. Democracy really is at the heart of genuine climate action across all sectors of society.

The panel concluded that companies need to be bold with their ambitions, and that there’s still much work to be done in drilling sustainability into the heart of company structure.