Volkswagen extends cooperation with independent Sustainability Council
- Cooperation extended for a further two years
- Rebecca Harms, former Member of the European Parliament, and Magdalena Gerger, CEO and President of the Swedish enterprise Systembolaget AB, become new members of the Council
- CEO Herbert Diess: “We want to intensify the dialog with our Sustainability Council”
The Volkswagen Group is extending cooperation with its independent Sustainability Council for a further two years. Volkswagen is thus continuing to vigorously pursue its sustainability targets with the focus on becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Furthermore, Rebecca Harms, former Member of the European Parliament, and Magdalena Gerger, CEO and President of the Swedish enterprise Systembolaget AB, have become new members of the Council. Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, commented: “Sustainability is a key factor for the success of our company. Volkswagen will only confidently stride into the future if we undergo a transformation. The independent Sustainability Council acquires even greater significance for our Group as we make this transition. We want to intensify our dialog – a debate that also embraces criticism. With its independent expertise, the Sustainability Council is a driver and a corrective for our strategy.“
Diess thanked the Sustainability Council for the past cooperation, saying the independent body had provided important momentum with regard to processing the diesel crisis and formulating the principles for integrity. In addition, the intensive discussions with the Sustainability Council played a significant role in substantiating climate goals and decarbonization strategy within the Group. The Volkswagen Group’s target: To become carbon neutral by 2050.
Diess said: “We have a clear plan and concrete measures to reach this target. However, there is still a long way to go and a major effort is still needed. The contributions and stimuli from the Sustainability Council are therefore all the more important. We need this critical feedback. That is why I am delighted that Rebecca Harms and Magdalena Gerger are strengthening this body. Ms. Harms’ experience in environmental policy at EU level will take us forward, Ms. Gerger sets an example for sustainable corporate management.”
Sustainability Council has extensive rights to initiate actions at Volkswagen
The international Volkswagen Sustainability Council was set up in 2016 to support the Group with regard to strategic issues relating to sustainability and social responsibility. The body, which now comprises nine members, acts independently and contributes to the decision-making process with extensive rights for the purposes of exchanging information, consultation and initiating actions.
Georg Kell, Founding Director of the United Nations Global Compact and Spokesperson of the Sustainability Council, said: “In the Sustainability Council we interpret our mandate as tasking us to articulate our demands clearly and communicate them to be addressed by the company. We see that sustainability as a strategic goal is now firmly anchored in the Volkswagen Group. We are delighted to be continuing our support, because the best contribution Volkswagen can make toward climate protection is to assume a pioneering role and demonstrate that climate protection works.”
Stronger focus on EU Green Deal, corporate governance and integrity
One item on the agenda of the intensified dialog between Volkswagen and the Sustainability Council is the CEO Alliance for Reform, Resilience and Recovery (R3) jointly launched by Herbert Diess and the Council; R3 provides support for the EU Green Deal, aspects of corporate governance and integrity, employment in times of progressive digitalization and e-mobility, as well as sustainable actions in international markets.
In addition, the Volkswagen Sustainability Council initiated several projects in recent years also open to stakeholders and the public. These include a research project on climate-aware transport policy with partners such as the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and a long-term study with Fraunhofer IAO on the effects of digitalization and e-mobility on employment.
More information on the new members of the Sustainability Council:
Rebecca Harms was a Member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2019. During this period, she was particularly involved in working towards stricter environmental and consumer standards in the European Union and actively engaged in promoting a stronger EU climate policy. Harms served inter alia as a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), a member of the Committee of Inquiry into Emission Measurements in the Automotive Sector (EMIS), and a substitute member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). Harms began her political career in 1994 as a member of the regional parliament in Lower Saxony.
Magdalena Gerger has been the CEO and President of Systembolaget AB, a Swedish state-owned enterprise with sole rights to selling alcohol in Sweden. Examples of Gerger’s areas of focus are consistent strengthening of employer attractiveness and fostering strong corporate culture. In addition she is an advocate of developmental dialogue between industry and society. Previously, Gerger held various managerial positions in international food and fast moving consumer goods groups, including Arla Foods, Nestlé and ICI Paints.