ESG criteria are the key for sustainable financing and green transition – this is one of the most important conclusions of the annual conference of the Responsible Business Forum, which was held for the thirteenth time on December 9 at the Metropol Palace Hotel in Belgrade. 

The CSR & ESG Forum brought together members of various sectors who presented current solutions and trends in the field of socially responsible business with a special focus on ESG criteria and sustainable development goals (SDG). The official opening of the conference was addressed by Urs Schmid, Ambassador of Switzerland in Serbia and Dejan Turk, President of the Responsible Business Forum and CEO and General Manager of A1 Serbia and A1 Slovenia.

The huge transformative process towards a sustainable world, the so-called Agenda 2030, can only be achieved as a shared responsibility and by joint efforts of governments, the business sector, civil society and academia”, said the Ambassador of Switzerland.  

The main session of the conference on the ESG criteria raised the question of how doing business in accordance with the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria becomes a reality for companies in Serbia, but also a prerequisite for access to capital markets. Representatives of domestic and international financial institutions and companies discussed the risks, challenges and opportunities for sustainable growth and development of the economy, as well as the harmonization of business with the increasingly demanding legal framework that is important for the access to the European Union market. The session featured Alessandro Bragonzi, Head of Regional Representation for the Western Balkans, European Investment Bank, Caroline Bright – Regional ESG Advisory Lead for Europe, Central Asia, Latin America and Middle East, International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group, Lorenza Jachia, Senior Economist with UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia and Aleksandra Babić, Head of group risk function, AIK Bank.

Implementing good ESG practices opens up opportunities for better access to investment, markets and consumers”, said Caroline Bright from from International Finance Corporation. 

The second panel discussion was dedicated to the topic of SDGs. After the presentation by Vladica Janković from the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, the panel participants, Danko Kalkan, EY, Nemanja Sladaković, Gecić Law, Teodora Pasulj, PWC and Nina Cvetanović, Belgrade Open School, discussed the issues of measuring sustainability and changes that will affect sustainability reporting cycles. 

As part of the event, the “Champions of Sustainability” awards were given to companies that incorporated Sustainable Development Goals into their business and sustainability strategies. 

“This is already the second consecutive year that the Forum highlights successful business projects that contribute to the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda. Through awarding recognition, we want to additionally motivate these companies to continue with this practice, but also to encourage others to start thinking about it”, said Neven Marinović on behalf of the Responsible Business Forum.

In addition, the conference brought together CSR professionals who have been highlighted by the business community this year as important individuals and leaders on the path to sustainability, as well as young people who successfully finished the program CSR practice this year. 

Also, on this occasion, recognition was given to companies that, through their activities, have significantly contributed to the reduction of food waste this year, as well as to the reduction of poverty and hunger. 

The CSR & ESG FORUM was organized by Responsible Business Forum and Smart Kolektiv, in cooperation with the International Financial Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, within the integrated ESG program supported by Swiss Government through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). The support to the conference has also been provided by the “SDGs for All” Platform supported by the Governments of Switzerland and Germany, and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, as part of the Public Finance Reform – 2030 Agenda project. Friends of the conference are Delhaize Serbia, Elixir Group, Coca-Cola HBC Serbia, Moravacem and A1 Serbia. The media partners of the conference are Represent Communications, Bizlife, InStore, New Economy and Daily Green.