Corporate Sustainability Leadership? The Nordics and California

Join us in Berkeley on 21-22 March to compare, critique and celebrate corporate sustainability leadership. The conference will focus on the Nordic region and California – both renowned for demonstrating global corporate sustainability leadership – but how can we transition best practices into real corporate sustainability?

Photo by David Watkis on Unsplash

RealSusty, the Center for Responsible Business and SMART are organising a two-day conference set around the theme: Comparing, critiquing and celebrating corporate sustainability leadership: policy and practice in the Nordics and California. The Conference will bring together scholars, practitioners, policy-makers and students in an interactive event, with short presentations and a lot of time for discussion.

Need to cut through the noise

There is much sustainability talk from business. Indeed, the increasing number of sustainability declarations from business may indicate a gradual shift in business values. Yet, we are no closer to a comprehensive plan for action, with the responsibility for environmental, social and economic negative impact fragmented across transnational corporate groups and global value chains.

Many companies report on their sustainability activity. Yet, there is still a lack of coherent and stringent regulation of sustainability reporting and generally no requirements for external verification of sustainability claims. The result is a considerable amount of ‘noise’: colourful websites and promotion material that may reflect real progress but may also be ‘ green-washing’ or ‘SDG washing’, blurring what may in practice be ‘business as usual’.

There is a need to cut through the noise and identify actual best practices and barriers to be dismantled to realize corporate sustainability. The conference will contribute to this through a comparative assessment of corporate best practice and remaining challenges in the perceived front-runners of sustainability: California and the Nordics, to identifying the buildings blocks of global corporate sustainability. We hope to see you there!


Please register here. The event is free and welcomes scholars, practitioners, policy-makers and students. If you have any questions please contact


Thursday, 21 March 2019

8.30-9 am Registration

9-10 am Welcome, keynotes and practical information

Welcome by Robert Strand, UC Berkeley


  • Business and Environmental Leadership in California
    David Vogel, UC Berkeley
  • What does “corporate sustainability leadership” mean? Introducing planetary boundaries and the social foundation of humanity  
    Beate Sjåfjell, University of Oslo

Practical information by Laurence Wainwright

10-11.15 am SESSION 1. Chair: Mark Taylor, University of Oslo

Mainstreaming Corporate Sustainability: Equinor Exploration and ‘Risk Integration’
Titus Fossgard-Moser, Equinor

Sustainability: The role of a large multinational
Luisa Book, H&M

11.15-11.30 am Break

11.30-1 pm SESSION 2. Chair: Hanna Ahlström, University of Oslo

The art of returning: closing the loop using corporate branding and packaging
Yue Ang (presenting author), Oxford Brookes University, and Eléonore Maitre-Ekern, University of Oslo

Actor power dynamics in the Swedish shrimp industry: Who gets to decide what is ‘sustainable’ and what is not?
Laurence Wainwright, UC Berkeley

Are the Nordics really sustainable? A critical analysis
Jukka Mähönen, University of Oslo

1-2 pm Lunch

2-3.30 pm SESSION 3. Chair: Georgina Tsagas, University of Bristol

Multi-actor collaboration for corporate sustainability
Hanna Ahlström (presenting author), University of Oslo, Sigurd Sagen Vildåsen, Norwegian University of Technology and Science, and Amanda Williams, ETH Zürich

Can the “Wind from the North” create a “California effect” for EU human rights due diligence law?
Juho Saloranta, University of Eastern Finland

Litigating Corporate Sustainability: a comparative perspective on attempts to translate global norms into domestic courts
Mark Taylor, University of Oslo

3.30-3.45 pm Break

3.45-5.15 pm SESSION 4. Chair: Beate Sjåfjell, University of Oslo

How does a transformative business engage with ‘planetary boundaries’?
Josef Nyström Baksaas, Houdini Sportswear

Exercising the freedom to be responsible: First steps toward saving the planet
Vincent Stanley, Patagonia

Foundation Ownership at IKEA
Steen Thomsen, Copenhagen Business School

Patagonia as an Industrial Foundation: A Thought Exercise
Robert Strand (presenting author) and Steen Thomsen

5.30-6.30 pm Drinks reception

7pm- Speakers' dinner


Friday, 22 March 2019

9-10.30 am SESSION 5. Chair: David Vogel, UC Berkeley


  • Changing how we do business - a new perspective on materiality
    Susanne Stormer, Novo Nordisk (presenting author) and Geoff Kendall, co-founder of the Future Fit Foundation

A SMART approach to corporate sustainability leadership
Beate Sjåfjell (presenting author) and María Jesús Munoz, University Jaume I

It’s Time to Blow the Whistle on Corporate Greenwashing
Dominika Wiesner, The University of British Columbia

10.30-10.45 am Break

10.45-12.15 pm SESSION 6. Chair: Linn Anker-Sørensen, University of Oslo

Policy and leadership to meet global sustainable challenges
Monica Mee, Norsif

Sustainability as Risk Prevention in Corporate Law
Stavros Gadinis and Amelia Miazad (presenting author), both UC Berkeley

Who really cares? Private & public sustainability initiatives in the USA and the Nordics
Georgina Tsagas, University of Bristol (presenting author) and Jukka Mähönen, University of Oslo

12.15-1 pm Concluding remarks (SESSION 7) Chair: Beate Sjåfjell, University of Oslo

Nordic Sustainability as a focus of Scandinavian Departments at U.S. Universities: An Opportunity?
Laurence Wainwright and Robert Strand (presenting author), both UC Berkeley

A student perspective on corporate sustainability leadership
Eric Alborg, UC Berkeley

1-2 pm Lunch and networking


Practical information

The Conference is held at the International House (Sproul Rooms) on the University of California, Berkeley campus at the corner of Piedmont Avenue and Bancroft Way, adjacent to the stadium. Address: 2299 Piedmont Avenue Berkeley, CA 94720-2320

Nearby Stay Accommodations:

Transportation Services:

Nearby Airports:

Published Dec. 6, 2018 2:08 PM - Last modified Mar. 22, 2019 7:48 PM