SMART presents reform proposals for sustainable business, finance and products

The SMART project has published a first report presenting its reform proposals aimed to support the transition to sustainability. All feedback is highly welcome, says SMART project leader Beate Sjåfjell.  


Beate Sjåfjell, law professor at the University of Oslo and leader of the SMART project.

Achieving sustainability is possible. The adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 and the Paris Agreement in the same year created a new impetus for the debate on how to do so.

With an emerging recognition of the serious risks of continuing with unsustainability, there is currently unprecedented support for change. This is reflected in the incoming EU Commission, set to assume office on 1 December.

The transition to sustainability also has strong legal basis in the EU’s overarching goals set out in its Treaties, with duties to protect the environment, human rights and human dignity, within the EU and in the EU’s relations with the wider world.

Helping European business become the market-leaders of tomorrow

To achieve sustainability, we need to change the way business operates. The SMART project has submitted its introductory report about how we support the transition to sustainability. The report outlines a set of reform proposals aiming to change the way business and finance operate, and the way products are produced and consumed.

We aim to make it possible and easy for business and finance to create value in a sustainable manner, and for products to be produced and consumed in a way that contributes to securing a safe and just space for humanity within planetary boundaries. As such, our reform proposals concern the EU as a global actor, and the EU as a legislator and policymaker.

Business must shift to sustainable business models and be encouraged to innovate sustainably. To achieve this, the purpose of business needs to be redefined towards sustainability, to protect the decision-makers in business against the pressure to maximise financial returns.


To make sure that it is operationalised properly, we also need to integrate this into the duties of business decision-makers – requiring them to pursue sustainable value within the limits of our planet and integrating this goal throughout their global value chains.

Channelling finance into sustainable projects

Finance must be redirected to achieving sustainability and away from unsustainable investments. We propose changes to broaden and strengthen the EU’s Sustainable Finance Initiative and we propose changes also to the banking system – vital for the financing of European business.

We also suggest changes to the rules governing international trade and investment, to direct business and finance towards sustainability.

A SMART regulatory mix for sustainable products

Products sold in the EU must be produced in a manner that supports sustainable circular production and consumption. Today, products are the objects of the linear business models based on overconsumption, and sold to private consumers and public procurers.

Our proposals aim firstly to broaden and strengthen the EU’s Circular Economy initiative, secondly to make it easier to be a sustainability-oriented consumer, and thirdly to reinforce sustainable public procurement.  

All feedback welcome!

We invite comments and suggestions to our reform proposals, as presented both in the introductory report and in response to the detailed proposals that we will make available here on our SMART website towards the project’s conclusion in February 2020.

Comments may be submitted by this online form or by e-mail to



Tags: Reform proposals, . SMART project, corporate sustainability By Beate Sjåfjell, leader of the SMART project
Published Nov. 22, 2019 11:33 AM - Last modified Sep. 29, 2020 3:33 PM