The House of Sustainability co-created and led by the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Skilled Trades in partnership with the National Institute for Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility (INDR), is described as a “facilitating, coordinating and unifying” platform to mobilise Luxembourg companies for engagement in sustainable development.

Sustainability is a major topic for Luxembourg, which has demonstrated a particular interest in providing the necessary assistance to help businesses move to more sustainable business models. Luxembourg issued Europe’s first sovereign sustainability bond in 2020 valued at over €1.5 billion to help finance and refinance sustainable initiatives. In addition to being a party to the Paris Agreement, Luxembourg has committed to reduce the country’s carbon footprint by setting ambitious climate and energy objectives to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55%, increase renewable energy sources by 25%, and improve energy efficiency by up to 44%.

House of Sustainability: supporting companies to become more sustainable

The newly inaugurated House of Sustainability assists companies in navigating the milieu of sustainability services, solutions, labels, and tools offered by the various players on the market so that they can capitalise on the opportunities linked to sustainability.

More than 300 company and institutional representatives gathered to celebrate the official opening, which was graced by the presence of His Royal Highness, the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and president of the Chamber of Commerce Fernand Ernster, who gave the opening address.

All companies interested in exploring the sustainability solutions offered in Luxembourg by the ecosystem’s various partners can rely on the House of Sustainability as an entry point.

The House lists business services spanning from training and awareness to financial support and partnerships. The complete catalogue of sustainability solutions includes the service offering of the national innovation agency’s Sustainability Innovation Hub, which forms part of the surrounding ecosystem enabling the advancement of a sustainable, circular, and competitive Luxembourg economy, and supports companies in achieving their sustainability goals through innovation.

Putting people, planet, prosperity, and governance first

The House of Sustainability’s conceptual framework revolves around four key pillars of sustainable development: people, planet, prosperity, and governance. It also regroups 10 Sustainable Business Principles, which essentially outline the sustainability journey for companies and actions that they can take to become sustainable.

Beyond laying out the path to becoming more sustainable, it is critical that companies of all sizes and sectors are supported and surrounded by a reliable ecosystem to assist them in making a smooth and seamless transition to a sustainable future. This is a key mission of the House of Sustainability. Each of the ten business principles is reinforced by comprehensive business services and instruments that are accessible to companies in Luxembourg.

A key tool for companies wishing to become more sustainable is the Fit for Sustainability programme, which is also part of the business services listed at the House of Sustainability. With the assistance of an external consultant and state co-funding, the programme assists companies to assess their carbon footprint and reduce their environmental impact. Companies can consult a comprehensive sustainability framework to identify areas where they can innovate to become more sustainable or refer to over 400 sustainability enablers (including product and service providers, certification organisations, investors and research and testing entities) that can support their sustainable transition projects.

Sustainability issues at the core of company strategies and competitiveness

“Our shared goal is to integrate sustainability issues into the core of the strategy of companies in Luxembourg,” explains Anne-Marie Loesch, Head of Sustainability and Business Development at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce.

During the official launch ceremony, Dr Christian Berg, former Chief Sustainability Architect at SAP, established in his keynote speech “Can sustainability drive innovation and improvement” that sustainability is not only an opportunity for innovation, which in turn facilitates inventions and market success, but that all segments of society, from production and consumption to mobility and logistics, can be re-designed to include sustainable models. Some organisations, for example, have been able to reduce their emissions and promote sustainable operations by optimising transportation and logistics processes, or by choosing to utilise meat alternatives or build sustainable smartphones with easily recyclable parts. Mr Berg bolstered his point for sustainability by citing changing customer and investor expectations of the brands that they support.

Valérie Arnold, an independent sustainability consultant who also spoke at the opening, emphasised the need for action from an environmental and regulatory standpoint, given the reality of climate change and other new developments such as required ESG reporting standards and laws being enacted at the European level.

“When you go to the Olympics, you don’t go ill-prepared; you practice ahead of time and anticipate several scenarios to ensure you’re well-prepared,” Dr Berg said, urging businesses to rethink their business models and prepare for the future challenges posed by a global population boom and finite resources.

Photo credit: Luxembourg Trade and Invest