Energy Companies Discussed Status and Needs in Sustainability Work

What does sustainable business development mean and what kind of support do companies want? These were the focal questions when member companies of swedish Glava Energy Center participated in a workshop within the EU project ARIES4, which aims to support sustainability efforts in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in four European regions.

aries ws 240506 mobil 826f9There can be many arguments for working on sustainability within companies – demands from customers or employees, a conscious development of the business's focus, profile, and brand, a willingness to take societal responsibility. Or it could be about external regulations – such as upcoming requirements on sustainability reporting according to the EU directive CSRD, Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.

– Depending on the starting point and situation, companies have different statuses in sustainability work and different needs for support and competence enhancement, says Lisa Gärdt, project manager and sustainability coordinator at Glava Energy Center, one of the partners in ARIES4. 

The project is co-financed by the European Union and is a collaboration between universities, vocational training providers, innovation clusters, business, and society in four European regions: Värmland in Sweden, Navarra in Spain, Syddanmark in Denmark, and Gabrovo in Bulgaria. One of the projects goals is to provides tools for sustainability work in companies and during Glava Energy Center's general meeting on May 6, 2024, about 30 company representatives participated in a workshop on sustainable business development.

Companies are at Different Stages in Sustainability Work

Among other things, they were asked to assess the company's sustainability status according to the Sustainable Readiness Level (SRL) scale and express what the company needs to take the next step. The questions were posed through the digital presentation and survey tool Menti, where answers can be presented anonymously in real-time, thus promoting and inspiring reflections and discussions in the room. According to the answers, companies place themselves along the entire SRL scale.

– While some fully see sustainability as a business-integrated strategy for growth and competitiveness, others express that they have little or low knowledge of sustainability in business development. Therefore, companies' needs also vary. There is untapped business potential for companies to learn more about how they can contribute to the transition towards a more sustainable society, says Mikael Johnson, lecturer in business administration at Karlstad University, also a project partner of ARIES4.

ARIES4 to Develop Courses for Companies

aries ws2 240506 mobil 2688aFinally, member companies were divided into groups to discuss how Glava Energy Center and Karlstad University could support companies in taking the next step on the sustainability scale. One of the goals of ARIES4 is to support SMEs and business leaders in sustainability work, including by developing relevant courses and educational programs. After the workshop, the organizers from ARIES4 concluded that there is a clear willingness among companies to work on sustainable business development.

– One reflection we make is that surprisingly many consider it more of an opportunity than a challenge to work with sustainability. It feels forward-leaning and like a good sign that there is a curious attitude towards working with sustainability issues, says Lisa Gärdt.

– We can conclude that companies have sustainability work to do and that they may need help highlighting how their operations contribute to the global goals, says Fredrik Östlin, innovation advisor at Karlstad University.

Caption 1: Participants in workshop. 
Caption 2: Lisa Gärdt, Glava Energy Center, and Fredrik Östlin, Karlstad University.

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