From obstacles to opportunities

UN Global Compact NL was a partner at the event “Halfway through the SDGs: in search of game changers, ” organized by the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Nov. 9, 2023. The breakout session was organized in cooperation with UNICEF, VNO -NCW and MVO –

“From obstacles to opportunities”: What are the dilemmas and challenges Dutch businesses are facing and how can you help accelerate impact?

In this breakout session, we reflected on the SDG Stocktake Report, UNGA Week and various dilemmas that businesses are now facing. In this report, we reflect on an inspiring session. In the room were representatives from companies, central government, local governments,
NGOs, youth movements and knowledge institutions.

Key takeaways

  • Make sure regulations do not merely lead to tick scoring but encourage ambition to strongly accelerate on the SDG agenda.
  • Role for government to provide clarity and a long-term perspective, so businesses and consumers can act upon it.
  • Increase the bottom-line with regulation, but also the ceiling with accelerated SDG action (such as with the Forward Faster Campaign).
  • We need radical cooperation, also with competitors (SDG 17)
  • Continuing challenge: How to get the entire supply chain (including Scope 3) to join the transition? For many companies, 85-90% of their impact lies with their suppliers and


The session kicked off with a panel discussion moderated by Merei Wagenaar, Executive Director of UN Global Compact NL and the following speakers: Simon Henzell-Thomas, Global Director Climate & Nature at Ingka Group (IKEA), Jenny Wassenaar, Chief Sustainability Officer
at Trivium Packaging, Floris Dorgelo, Global Impact lead at Adyen and Jan-Willem Vosmeer, Manager of Sustainable Development & Stakeholder Engagement Global Corporate Affairs at Heineken NV.

In the SDG Stocktake report, we see that corporate commitment has grown. At the same time, progress is insufficient, while business can and does play a crucial role in accelerating progress. There is great untapped potential there. As Simon Henzell-Thomas points out, it’s no longer about the “why,” but about the “how.” Floris Dorgelo explains that Adyen can make a big impact with their technology, for example through their donation module. One issue is: how can we make the right contacts? Jenny Wassenaar puts another practical issue on the table: We need to produce less waste and better think about the recycling process and how we launch products on the Dutch market. Jan-Willem Vosmeer looks back on a reality check in New York, but with optimism. It is a good development that the focus is no longer solely on climate, but that biodiversity and water management are also receiving more attention. The biggest impact is in scope 3: cooperation with the supply chain is therefore essential. Good to realize: our scope 3 is their scope 1 and 2. You must motivate each other, but “how” remains a challenge.

With the CSRD, there are more requirements for companies to report on their impact. The panelists agree that the SDGs are not in competition with the CSRD. The SDGs are our common language (soft law), with CSRD you communicate progress. Simon Henzell-Thomas
(Ingka-Group) calls on companies not to use the new legislation to tick a box, but to increase sustainable commitment. There should be the same effort to meet SDG targets at year-end as there is for sales targets.

Ambitious sustainability targets are taken by Trivium and Heineken from the UN Global Compact’s Forward Faster Campaign. This campaign provides tools for companies to express far-reaching ambitions on five key themes (water resilience, gender equality, climate action, sustainable finance and living wage). Jenny Wassenaar (Trivium) recognizes that it is difficult for companies, especially SMEs, to get started on all 17 SDGs. By hooking into the Forward Faster campaign, companies can commit to targets where they can make the biggest impact, obviously without forgetting the other themes. According to Floris Dorgelo, Adyen is currently prioritizing SDG 17: partnership. All companies and organizations work within their own space,
if we work together, we can accelerate impact.

Following this, the panelists each moderated a roundtable discussion. At the conclusion of the breakout session, the main conclusions from these discussions were pitched.

Heineken: 90% of our impact is in scope 3 and thus our suppliers are essential. We can lean on laws, but not wait for them. Heineken suppliers are asked to join the Science-Based Target Initiative. Positive incentives to get involved (setting up pilots,
compensating costs) work, but the question is when to stop this: it has to become the normal way of doing business. Fortunately, suppliers themselves increasingly see the need to get involved. Suppliers are regularly brought together; this creates a psychological effect of encouragement and competition. Data collection within scope 3
still remains a challenge, although this is improving every year.

Adyen: A strong business case is important. You also need to make the consumer conscious about the impact of their action. This can be positive: for example, by donating money using Adyen’s technology.

Trivium Packaging: In the panel discussion of Trivium we discovered the shocking reality of our recycling rate worldwide. We can and must do better. Standardization for
production and waste separation is one of the solutions. In addition, if sustainability is not in the core business, someone should be appointed to represent this topic on the board.

Ingka-Group: Call to not only measure profits, but also impact on sustainability. This is also the responsibility of the shareholders. Sustainability should be embedded in the company, for example, if leadership changes, sustainability should not suffer. Laws and regulations provide certainty and a level playing field.

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