GLOBAL SUSTAIN: The Athens Sustainability Forum 2023 took place focusing on the new Digital Era of ESG and Small and Medium-sized enterprises

For the 13th consecutive year, Global Sustain held the Sustainability Forum, a unique event for ESG, sustainable finance and responsible investments. The Sustainability Forum 2023 took place on Friday, October 6, 2023, at the Benaki Museum (Piraeus 138 & Andronikou), in Athens. Leading speakers, ESG experts from international organisations and executives of large, small and medium enterprises from different industries.

Mr. Michael Spanos, CEO of Global Sustain, kicked-off the Event and spoke about the future of ESG and the need to adopt digital tools to collect, monitor, and report the – now mandatory – ESG performance assessment of a company – regardless of size. As he pointed out, the digitalisation of ESG data costs less for companies and greater transparency and disclosure for investors, capital providers, and insurers.

Mr. Panos Martinis, CEO of SOFTONE Group, a leading provider of cloud-based business software solutions in the Greek market and a member of the Olympia Group of companies, presented the Group’s vision for universal access to ESG services and practices through cloud technologies, highlighting the importance of SoftOne Group’s strategic investment in Global Sustain.

Ms. Michelle McDonough, COO of Trillium Asset Management, a leading ESG investment firm based in Boston, USA, spoke about Trillium’s holistic approach, investing in companies that implement and adopt ESG practices.

Project finance based on ESG criteria and current requirements set by banks for businesses were the subject of the speech by Mr. Mark Hughes, Senior Environmental Advisor of the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development).

The role of the international rating agency Moody’s in promoting ESG and its importance for banks and businesses was highlighted by Mr. Zak Abideen, Director of Moody’s Analytics and Ms. Helen Tunstall, Commercial Lending Expert of Moody’s Analytics.

Mr. Makis Tzeis, CEO of Atradius, presented the need for the adoption of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) by all companies to achieve measurable results and be “Green Credible”, to be evaluated by credit insurance companies.

In Panel A participated the following speakers:

  • Mr. Achilleas Aggelopoulos, CEO of Kyknos S.A.

  • Mr. Christos Kahramanoglou, CEO of Viopol S.A.

  • Mrs. Stavroula Maroulis, COO, Board Member of MPack S.A

  • Mr. Panos Vasileiadis, CEO of Ideal Holdings S.A.

The speakers discussed the risks, challenges, and opportunities of ESG integration for a Small or Medium-sized company. The panel was moderated by Mr. Michalis Spanos, CEO of Global Sustain.

The role of the Boards of Directors in the promotion and implementation of sustainability practices was the subject of the speech by Mr. Yanos Michopoulos, Corporate Governance Course Leader, The Institute of Directors, with reference to the risks of Greenwashing, the challenges due to the limited availability of data, but also core guidelines for good corporate governance.

The adoption and implementation of ESG practices by energy production companies, as well as the company’s ESG-oriented actions, was analysed by Ms. Natasa Hatziantoniou, Communications & CSR Senior Manager of DESFA, presenting the company’s ESG journey in recent years.

Mr. Thanos Belalidis, Partner of the Sympraxis Team, spoke about the importance of the active stakeholders’ participation in the development of a strategic sustainability plan. Based on case studies, he emphasised that “The risks are immediate and directed to human beings. This should be the primary and only motivation for implementing ESG practices.”

Mr. Aris Vrettos, Sustainable Business Strategy & Transformation of Croda and Board Member of Global Sustain and Mr. Yiannis Kantonias, CEO of Cosmos Aluminum S.A., discussed the systematic effort required for the smooth transition of large, small and medium enterprises in the ESG era, how to create value, the role of innovation and finally the need for integrated solutions. The Fireside Chat was moderated by Mrs. Iro Rantou, Journalist and Presenter of ANT1.

The new European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) and the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), the green transition of SMEs, as well as the legislative framework that will be implemented from 01/01/2024, regarding greenwashing was presented by Mrs. Maria Alexiou, member of the ESRS Secretariat – SMEs, European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG).

The Sustainability Forum concluded with a second Panel about the ESG Accelerator project for small and medium enterprises, which is implemented in collaboration with Global Sustain and the EBRD, where the following speakers participated:

  • Ms. Cleopatra Panagopoulou, Quality & Compliance Manager of Manifest S.A.

  • Mr. Gregory Grigoriadis, CEO of ILT Logistics S.A.

  • Mr. George Konstantinides, CEO of Berling S.A.

  • Ms. Flora Chrysanthakopoulou, Quality Control Manager of Isostevia S.A.

The goals and benefits of the project, where each company stands on ESG, what they expect to gain from the ESG Accelerator project, and sustainability challenges and opportunities for each industry were discussed. The panel was moderated by Mr. Babis Tsalkitzis, Associate, Advise for Small Business of the EBRD.

With the support of Blue Marble, Carbon Offsetting Partner, Global Sustain made the Sustainability Forum a sustainable event, offsetting the overall environmental footprint of the Forum with an equivalent reduction in emissions (carbon offsetting).

Gold Sponsors: SoftOne Group, Trillium Asset Management, Sympraxis Team

Silver Sponsors: Alpha Bank, DESFA, Manifest S.A., RSM Greece, Scotwork

Carbon Offsetting Partner: Blue Marble

Coffee Partner: Nespresso

Hospitality Partner: Benaki Museum

Creative Design Partner: ThinkPlus

Communication Partners: ANT1, Palo Services, DailyFax, Marketing Week, Industry, Epixeiro, Skywalker – Work in Greece, Capital, The Business Events Calendar,, Eco zen, CSR & ESG Review.

Institutional Partners: Hellenic Banking Association, EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development), Association of Institutional Investors, Hellenic Fund & Asset Management, CEO Clubs Greece, CFA Society Greece, Hellenic-Dutch Chamber of Commerce & Industry, AIESEC, Association of Greek Chemical Industries, INZEB, iforU, Young Executives Shipping (YES) Forum, Hellenic Institute of Customer Service (HICS), Association of Insurance Companies of Greece, Hellenic-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Hellenic Cold Storage & Logistics Association, Union of Listed Companies (ULC), Alliance for Greece, Association of Advertisers of Greece (SDE), Your Directors Club (YDC).

Global Sustain Group is an international business management firm established in 2006, with three main types of business activities:

  •  Global Sustain Advisory

  •  Global Sustain Club

  • Global Sustain Technologies

Global Sustain Group has offices in the UK and Greece and international presence through affiliates in Belgium, Egypt, Germany, and the USA.

For more information, visit:            | |