Three NODE companies, Siem Offshore, Globetech and Vinje Industri took the stage during the conference. Left-right: Isabelle-Louise Aabel (GCE NODE), Jørn Furnes (Vinje Industri), Anine Bentsen (Siem Offshore), and Audun Skare (Globetech).

Three GCE NODE companies took to the stage during the Sustainability Conference in Kristiansand to explain how they got up to speed on sustainability.

GCE NODE is a partner of the Sustainability Conference, which is an important part of the annual Sustainability Festival in Kristiansand. Isabelle-Louise Aabel, Project Manager at GCE NODE, facilitated the sequence involving GCE NODE companies.

All three companies had participated in the GCE NODE introductory program «Sustainable Business», working on defining challenges and methods in their approach to sustainability.

Audun Skare, Quality Manager at the IT company Globetech, admitted to a sub-par position prior to the course.

“The concept of sustainability was a bit vague for us. We asked ourselves whether this was something we had time to deal with. The GCE NODE course opened our eyes, and we gradually got a grasp on this important work,” Skare said.

He emphasized the value of getting together with other companies and discussing what sustainability entails, and how the goals can be operationalized in one’s own company.

Jørn Furnes, CEO of Vinje Industri, also admitted that Vinje did not have a clear understanding of the concept of sustainability before participating in the course.

“We were skeptical to whether our small business could make a difference in a big world. Being part of the course provided awareness of what sustainability can amount to for a company of our size. Today we know that we can actually make a contribution in the energy transition,” Furnes said.

Anine Bentsen, a trainee at Siem Offshore, which operates around 30 ships and has 1,100 employees, was skeptical of the company’s environmental commitment when she was at her initial job interview.

“I thought this was a company that mostly dealt with old fashioned activities, such as oil and gas. During my time with the company and the participation in GCE NODE sustainability program, sustainability has become a high priority for our company,” Bentsen said.

Isabelle-Louise Aabel said that the purpose of the sustainability course was not to teach participants what sustainability is, but to get them to collaborate on defining and operationalizing the sustainability goals in their own company.

During the Sustainability Conference, Aabel also facilitated a panel discussion which included Kai Eide, former ambassador and special envoy for the UN, Kristiansand mayor Jan Oddvar Skisland and WWF adviser Ingrid Hvidsten Gabrielsen. Aabel asked the panel where Norway is heading with its commitment to sustainability.

“We live in a demanding time. There is an energy crisis and a war in Europe. Is there any room for sustainability during such big events? Aabel asked.

Kai Eide was the first to respond: “Unfortunately, it seems that increased defense budgets have more focus than sustainability projects. I’m quite pessimistic towards global commitments to sustainability. At the same time, exciting things are happening on the ground level. Many companies are working on innovative projects, but they need more support from politicians when it comes to facilitating the development of new sustainable industry,” Eide said.

Isabelle-Louise Aabel (left) in a conversation with Anine Bentsen (Siem Offshore) at the Sustainability Conference in Kristiansand.