Norwegian Chamber of Commerce and its 5th Annual Business Forum

Norwegian Ambassador to Lithuania, Karsten Klepsvik Photo © Ludo Segers @ The Lithuania Tribune
Norwegian Ambassador to Lithuania, Karsten Klepsvik Photo © Ludo Segers @ The Lithuania Tribune

The Norwegian Chamber of Commerce 5th Annual Norwegian-Lithuanian Business Forum in Vilnius under the slogan #CHANGEMAKERS, on May 8.  The forum invited some big names and experts in the field of change management, technology and the environment. The participants and guest speakers discussed about opportunities that are arising from the shift towards sustainable economy and developing environmentally friendly solutions.  In the process several presented some bold innovative ideas.

It was Lina Mockutė, the executive director of the Norwegian Chamber of Commerce, that welcomed the 250 participants of annual Business Forum in the old Town Hall (Rotušė) and introduced  this year’s forum moderator, Simona Oliškevičiūtė-Cicėnienė, a Partner and Head of Real Estate and Infrastructure Department at Cobalt Lithuania.

The programme started with some a festive song by the Norwegian baritone Stein Skjervold and the pianist Dovile Bagdonaitė .  After the serene vocal performance it was the Norwegian Ambassador to Lithuania, Karsten Klepsvik, who in his opening remarks pointed out the many links between Norway and Lithuania.  Norwegian companies are among the largest investors and employ thousands of Lithuanians.  The ambassador singled out the Norwegian Heritage Oil fund has invested 300 million Euro and said, “Norwegian companies appreciate a highly skilled and motivated Lithuanian workforce that is close to the key EU markets”.

Deputy Mayor Vytautas Mitalas welcomed the Forum attendants and said, “Vilnius is living up to the main theme of the conference as the city recognises that the way forward is a sustainable economy”.

From oil economy to sustainable economy

The first expert speaker, Birgit M. Liodden, Director of Sustainability, Ocean Industries & Communication of the Oslo Business Region, addressed the many challenges that Norway and the capital Oslo face in transiting from an oil revenue based economy to one geared to ensuring a sustainable model and continued economic prosperity.  She shared her unique insights and know-how in how the Norwegian capital is mobilising the business community to deliver on Oslo’s climate budget and the European green capital project.

Mr Thomas Morgenstern, Vice-President Governmental Affairs, Tomra Group, explained how his company went about inventing the ‘reverse vending machines’, the plastic bottle recycle machines that are now a world wide phenomena and are found inside and outside nearly all Lithuanian supermarkets.  Plastic is now recycled, to the tune of more than 90% in Lithuania.  A real success story according to Mr. Morgenstern with one of the smoothest implementation plans achieved and within 2 years.

Martynas Rusteika, Chief Communications Officer, Global BOD Group reminded most of the high cost of electricity, singling out Latvia for being the country suffering the highest increases in the last 10 years.  One of the major solutions is your own little power plant via solar panels that Mr. Rusteika illustrated through several practical examples.

Shaher Yar Khan, Chief Operating Officer, Orkla Health Group spoke about sustainability as a core part of Orkla’s Supply Chain.  Although Orkla is a company that specialises largely in food products, the company’s overall concern for the global environment reaches well beyond their own production facilities and include their entire supply chain.

Many innovative ideas

Marius Jundulas, CEO of Gjensidige in Baltics, informed the audience about sustainability in the insurance business and how the sustainability is in the DNA of he insurance business.  It is intuitively understandable when one sees that ideally these companies like to prevent, rather and happening. Not just the environment but also people, often central in this line of business. And people are willing to pay for the overall sustainability and about half of them are basing their decisions taking the environment into considerations. Whilst, Veiko Kandla, CEO of Fjord bank introduced plans to disrupts the crowded Lithuanian banking market in the near future with a fully on-line banking offer.

Ričardas Valančiauskas, Head of R&D&I Programmes and International Cooperation Department, Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology, Working Together for Green and Competitive Europe gave the Forum attendees a good insight in the grant process and how his organisation will prioritise SMEs that focus on innovation, sustainability and value added outcomes.

LizMcNamara Hundere, Director, Change Management, Supply Chain Transformation at Yara International ASA started by introducing her company, a leading fertiliser manufacturing company.  Her presentation focused on steps the company has taken to set new sustainability standards. One of the main parts of those measures is the world’s first fully autonomous zero-emission vessel. The electric ship transports several 30 ton containers over a short distance between the various processing plants of the company in Norway. 

It was Stein Ove Sektnan of Super Office that had visually the pleasure to introduce an amazing dance trio accompanied by violinist Hallgrim Hansegård and the outstanding Frikår dance academy. It brought the audience literally on their toes before the conclusions and a network luncheon at the Forum organised by the Norwegian Chamber of Commerce.

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