Break-out: From global to local, leading the sustainability agenda

From global to local

Moderated by Sally Uren, Director at Forum for the future, this session addressed the question: how did Kingfisher and Tetra Pak implement their global sustainability strategy at a local level?

Albert Aranda, HR Director for BricoDepôt (Kingfisher group) Iberia, tells us that as long as the message came from corporate, there was a limit to how far they could get. “People thought it came from above and we had to do it because they said so”. There needed to be a change of mindset, in which being sustainable was something everyone wanted, and most importantly, something good for the business.

At BricoDepôt Iberia, people understood they all had an individual responsibility towards sustainability. Communication, explaining the impact of sustainability on sales, costs, and efficiency played a fundamental role in this change. Albert says they are even looking for a name for the company’s sustainability strategy (Net Positive), in Spanish. After all, it’s all about making it locally relevant, and getting people to own it.

Victor San Pedro, director for the environmental responsibility department at Tetra Pak for Iberia and France, explains that Tetra Pak has very clear global policies, with set environmental impact KPIs, which guide the local initiatives. He believes sustainability is a vital part of the business, a source of competitive advantage and a way to improve the relationship with the customer.

How sensitive is the Spanish consumer to green products, compared to other countries? According to Albert, there was a before and after the crisis in this regard as in so many others. Although the level of awareness of the importance of sustainability is comparable to that of other countries, the crisis shifted priorities, with price moving up the scale. Albert believes that this just means companies need to find a different narrative, a different angle of sustainability. In the case of Spain it was local production, creating value for the community.

Victor agrees that the crisis changed the overall landscape, but believes that regardless of the differences between countries, there is one way to do this: to create a sustainability culture, not to wait until consumers ask for it, but to go out and offer it. As an example, Tetra Pak applies the same standards to different countries, regardless of the local legislation.

The first question from the audience addresses the “extra costs” of a local sustainability strategy. Albert could not be clearer in this regard. “The hardest part is to understand that sustainability is a part of the business”. Thus, it’s the business who takes care of this. The key is to look for alternative, sustainable ways of financing these measures, and BricoDepôt seems to have been extremely successful in doing so.

When asked about the possibility of “cutting middle men” in the process to increase efficiencies, Albert explains that the sustainable thing to do is to find ways of doing business together that creates value for everyone in the long term. The same collaborative approach applies to suppliers. After setting the minimum standards and regulations, the next step is creating synergies, establishing partnerships that drive innovation.

With a very consulting-like approach, Sally summarized the takeaways of the session in 5 main points (which spell LOCAL!):

Lens: Identifying what’s material for the local reality and adapting the narrative.

Ownership: In order to succeed, people need to feel they own the strategy.

Corporate philosophy (purpose), clear business case and collaboration (with suppliers, customers and stakeholders in general).

Active communication.

Loops of feedback between the corporate and the local areas.


Rocio_Orden Rocío is currently pursuing an MBA program at IESE. She is passionate about urban sustainability and corporate family responsibility. She is a member of IESE’s Responsible Business Club and part of the organizing committee for the Doing Good Doing Well conference, the largest student run sustainability conference in Europe.