Sustainable Finance at the forefront!

For the ninth consecutive year, Global Sustain organized the Sustainability Forum, a unique event for corporate responsibility and sustainable development. The Sustainability Forum 2020 – A training, networking, and professional development event, took place on October 9, 2020, at NJV Athens Plaza in Athens with the physical attendance of speakers only, and over 200 participants via live streaming. The Forum highlighted the importance of sustainable investments, as well as the need for economic recovery in terms of sustainability.

This year, considering safety protocols due to COVID-19 pandemic, the event took place in a hybrid format, it was certified with the Certification Scheme TÜV AUSTRIA COVID Shield, while speakers with physical presence followed safety guidelines suggested by GEP. Participants were able to attend the sessions via live streaming, interact with the speakers and benefit from networking opportunities through the special platform of LiveOn.

The Forum was attended by leading speakers and experts on sustainable development from international organizations.

The conference was opened by George Lambrinos President & CEO of GEP Group, talking about the challenges faced by companies in the midst of a pandemic, followed by a speech by Ioannis Kallias, CEO of TÜV AUSTRIA Hellas, who referred to COVID Shield certification scheme developed by the company.

Michael Spanos, Managing Director of Global Sustain spoke about the assessment of ESG risks in the banking, investment and insurance sectors. He analyzed the new compliance rules and accountability framework for sustainability, referring to the ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) criteria that will unlock €1 trillion in sustainable investment over the next decade, in consistency with the Sustainable Development Goals, Green Deal and the Paris Agreement.

Mr. Spanos referred to the structure of sustainable financing, as established by the EU, with reference to the Taxonomy. Taxonomy regulation provides clarity on which economic activities are sustainable and contribute to climate neutrality, to make investment decisions based on the ESG criteria.

Athina Chatzipetrou, President and CEO of the Hellenic Development Bank – EAT, pointed out the catalytic role of the pandemic in the bank’s activity, which focuses on a sustainable development plan, as well as the challenges faced in the lockdown. It supports entrepreneurship with fast track lending procedures during the crisis period and with new products in the near future. Mrs. Chatzipetrou announced in the coming months a new package of “green” financial instruments, including “green” bonds, that follows the best practices of organizations such as the World Bank. This includes loans for energy efficiency, green transport, sustainable food, and waste management.

Dimitris Pontikakos, Analyst, Green Economy Financing Facility (GEFF), from the EBRD, spoke about the overall approach and the role of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development – EBRD in the transition to a “green” economy. The flow of capital towards a sustainable economy by the EBRD, was mentioned by Maya Hennerkes, ESG Sector Lead for Financial Intermediaries, EBRD. Ms. Hennerkes spoke about EBRD initiatives in the energy sector, with special reference to the €160 million loan to PPC and the placement of around € 60 million to TERNA Energy. Regarding non-performing loans, a rapidly growing market, returns are noted, as investing in them with social criteria can strengthen the banking sector. Ms. Hennerkes referred to the EBRD’s initiative to examine the social risks existing in these businesses, and the case study (Greek Non-Performing Loan Portfolios) will lead to investment-driven tools, setting social criteria in portfolio management.

The issues of business accountability and regulation regarding ESGs were raised by Vasiliki Lazarakou, president of the Hellenic Capital Market Commission, urging companies to learn more about them, talking also about their importance in listed companies.

The role of the financial system and banking sector in the transition to a low carbon economy was highlighted by Dimitrios Dimopoulos, Director of the Sustainability Unit of Piraeus Bank. Mr. Dimopoulos referred to the global trends and challenges for ESGs, and the role of Piraeus Bank.

Maria Dimopoulou, Manager, Communications and Sustainability of Papastratos, analyzed the way in which a tobacco industry can adopt a sustainable development model.

Paschalis Kastanas, Sustainable Packaging Manager at Nestlé Hellas, analyzed how a product creates added value when it reaches the end of its life and is used again, as well as Nestlé’s actions to minimize the use of plastic in packaging and its contribution to circular economy.

Mario Giordano, Marketing Director Greece and Israel, Signify, spoke about doubling the positive impact of the company on the environment and society, in the context of Brighter Lives, Better World 2025.

Katerina Matiatou, a member of the BMW Foundation, highlighted the commitment of the leaders as a catalyst for positive change.

The circular and holistic approach of the design, highlighted Stephan Clambaneva, member of the Board of IDSA, referring to the mission to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

Aris Vrettos, Director, Center for Business Transformation, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), stressed that in the next decade, companies will have to align their strategy and action with long-term value creation for society.

Wayne Sharpe, CEO & Founder of Carbon Trade Exchange, explained how offsetting C02 emissions reduces costs, favors ESGs and contributes to a “green” future. In fact, 22% of global carbon emissions (12 GtCO2e) were offset in 2019.

Thanos Belalidis, Director Sustainability Implementation & Communication, Sympraxis Team, spoke about the commitment of stakeholders and the building of trust in unprecedented circumstances.

Alex and Konstantinos Panagiotou, CEO & Founder and Co-Founder of Oramique respectively highlighted the human factor as an important value in business, for personal and professional viability.

The Sustainability Forum 2020 is addressed to all professionals involved with sustainability, such as Sustainability and CSR Managers, Human Resources, Marketing and Corporate Affairs Managers, Communication and Public Relations specialists, Environmentalists, Environmental engineers, Quality specialists, IT engineers, Lawyers, Investors, NGO executives, students, etc.

The next appointment is in October 2021!

For more information, visit:

Gold Sponsor: Gilead, Papastratos, Piraeus Bank

Silver Sponsors: Cosmote, Interamerican, Nestlé Hellas

Supporters: Alpha Bank, European Reliance, Signify, Eureka, Hellas Gold, Hellenic Petroleum Hygeia Hospital, Papadopoulos, PPC Renewables

Digital Partner: Generation Y

Technology Innovation Partner: Cisco Webex

Health & Safety Partner: GEP

COVID Shield Partner: TÜV AUSTRIA Hellas

Beer Sponsor: Athenian Brewery

Cocktail Sponsor: Gancia

Coffee Partner: Nespresso

Institutional Supporters: AIESEC, American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, German Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and Industry, The Hellenic-Dutch Association of Commerce and Industry, Greek Association of Environmental Protection Companies, Greek Cold Storage & Logistics Association, Alliance for Greece, CFA Society Greece, Hellenic Advertisers Association, CEO Clubs Greece, Your Directors Club, Union of Listed Companies.

Communication Partners: ANT1, Naftemporiki, CSR Review, CSR Week,, Marketing Week, Daily Fax, Plant,,, Ethos Media (XRIMA,,, /

Photo credit: Ioanna Skiftou