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Empowering Swiss Businesses with a Sustainability Diagnosis

The Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services

The Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services (CCIG) represents over 2,400 local businesses working to secure a strong and sustainable economy in Geneva, Switzerland. Several key tenets of the CCIG’s mission emphasize sustainability and environmental best practices, including: advocating for economic and political framework conditions to enhance both environmental and business performance and providing services that enable members to make progress in sustainability. The chamber also prioritizes best practices within the CCIG itself; they recently carried out a Corporate Social Responsibility audit and have worked to encourage self-service bikes and other sustainable modes of transportation for their employees.

One of the CCIG’s latest endeavors is a sustainability program for its chamber members called the Sustainability Diagnosis. Can you tell us about this service?

In 2021, we joined forces with CCIG members SOFIES, an international sustainability project management group, and B Lab Suisse’s Swiss Triple Impact (STI), a nonprofit organization focused on social and environmental business performance, to offer CCIG chamber members a Sustainability Diagnosis. The diagnosis is an unprecedented path of initiation, training and concrete actions to integrate sustainability objectives into business processes. Based on a range of already-proven services and practices from STI and SOFIES, the Sustainability Diagnosis meets the varying needs of members’ businesses, offering tailor-made support depending on each member’s goals.

Businesses wishing for a group approach can join the STI program, which centers around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and helps companies identify the points of improvement in their company and value chain. The program helps target and prioritize the most important SDGs for each business and set up a concrete action plan to improve the company’s social and environmental impact. Businesses wishing for an individual, tailored approach can work with SOFIES to calculate their carbon footprint and identify concrete steps to reduce their greenhouse gas contributions.

We also partnered with SOFIES to offer a workshop to ‘eco-innovate’ companies’ business models by identifying problem areas and strategizing action plans for businesses to improve the environmental impact of their business model going forward.

What other actions is CCIG taking to help your member companies reduce their environmental impact while remaining profitable?

We organize Sustainable Management Meetings four times a year since the program’s inception in 2010, which over 1,000 Swiss companies have now attended. The program’s objective is to promote sustainable management and to encourage the exchange of concrete experiences between companies. The meetings feature expert speakers and tackle various themes related to business sustainability, such as responsible professional purchasing and whether ISO 14001 certification is a worthwhile investment for companies.

In 2020, we created a Sustainability Charter based on the UN’s SDGs. The charter identifies the priority objectives and actions the CCIG can take to contribute to each of the SDGs, which in turn helps our member companies contribute to these goals as well.

Do you have any standout members that are excelling in implementing sustainable business practices?

CCIG member Caran d'Ache, a Geneva-based art materials and writing instruments manufacturer, has been active in the area of social responsibility for decades and has been a pioneer in Geneva for ISO 14001 certification. Caran d'Ache has taken significant steps to reduce its environmental impact, including favoring short circuits, installing solar panels, and replacing all solvent-based varnishes with aqueous varnishes. The company also has a water treatment station, sorts all waste, uses only FSC-certified and COBS-approved wood, and recovers 80 tons of wood chips annually to repurpose for heating.

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