The positive route to more sustainability

Klasmann-Deilmann hosts Industry Dialogue with IAV and IHK

No consensus could be achieved on the issue who is responsible for sustainability. One appeal was to make sustainability the responsibility of the government, another believed it was the duty of each and every citizen, and yet another put the industry in the front line. One of the outcomes of the recent “Industry Dialogue” hosted by the Industry Employers’ Association (IAV) and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) of Osnabrück-Emsland-Grafschaft Bentheim Region concluded that ideally, all these parties should recognise their own responsibility and act accordingly.

The IAV and IHK of Osnabrück-Emsland-Grafschaft Bentheim Region had invited people to their annual joint “Industry Dialogue”. Last year’s keynote topic, “Digitisation”, was now followed by “Sustainability”. In view of the second extremely dry summer in succession, the “Fridays for Future” movement and the increasing popularity of “green” issues with public and politicians alike, the event made its own contribution to this highly topical debate.

This year’s Industry Dialogue was hosted by Klasmann-Deilmann GmbH, which is greatly concerned with the idea of sustainable development, an attitude which has earned the company its leading position in the international growing media industry. Managing Director Moritz Böcking reminded the attendees that “just ten years ago, it would have been unthinkable to discuss matters of nature and climate protection with a company that produces and uses peat.” He was therefore all the more pleased to have the opportunity to examine this essentially important topic with the IAV and IHK representatives.

Matthias Hopster, Vice-President of the regional Chamber of Industry and Commerce welcomed the roughly sixty guests, and Dr Tobias Romberg, journalist and teacher, chaired the event. Members of the audience included Reinhard Winter, the Emsland District’s Chief Executive Officer, Sabine Stöhr, Managing Director of the IAV, and Albert Stegemann, Member of the German Federal Parliament for the CDU party.

Dr Jan Köbbing, Sustainability Manager at Klasmann-Deilmann, introduced the subject and informed the audience about the issues that Klasmann-Deilmann had to resolve in order to promote sustainable development at the company. He explained that the three pillars – ecology, economy and corporate social responsibility – all had to be combined in order to achieve sustainable development. He added that it was also important to foster the dialogue with political and business stakeholder groups, the company’s own staff and shareholders and, in the special case of Klasmann-Deilmann, environmental and climate protection organisations, as that was the only way that the company could acquire specific information about these players’ expectations and the only way that Klasmann-Deilmann could identify and address the key issues facing the company.

Theresa Eyerund from the German Economic Institute in Cologne provided in-depth information about the subject, inclusive of statistical findings. She told the audience that environmental and climate protection currently enjoys high priority because of the immense popularity of the “Fridays for Future” movement. Green issues had not been played such an important role since the Fukushima disaster. However, she also pointed out that economic issues, for example, are rated more important at times of economic crisis, while questions of internal security appear particularly urgent following acts of terrorism. People’s perception of a major crisis therefore always depends on current events. Nevertheless, she said, these modifying factors did not mean that sustainability should be relegated to the category of a mere passing issue which happened to be ‘fashionable’. She believed that sustainability would probably become permanently established as a major issue because more and more people were permanently taking it seriously and that as soon as the “critical mass” of seriously interested people had been reached, the rest of the population would simply follow suit.

A lively debate then ensued on the basis of these remarks during the subsequent panel discussion. The participants considered the extent to which sustainability would remain a serious and permanent issue and who should assume responsibility for ensuring sustainable development on as wide a basis as possible. In that connection, Moritz Böcking pointed out that it was industry which had put in the preliminary spadework and presented numerous ideas for protecting the environment and the climate. In the case of Klasmann-Deilmann, for instance, this included an innovative procedure for the restoration of former peat extraction sites. It was now up to the government to give such projects a chance and actively support them. He believed that providing incentives was definitely a “more positive route” towards achieving nature and climate protection than instruments such as a carbon tax.

The event closed with the official presentation of the prizes for a photography competition. Olaf Piepenbrock, President of the IAV, and Matthias Hopster awarded prizes to several young people for their outstanding entries. The closing remarks were made by Olaf Piepenbrock, who stressed once again that it was industry that generated innovations …