Marco Casanova, you launched your think tank ‘ESG Center of Excellence’ in Lugano in April of this year. What were the reasons for choosing Lugano?
This decision was taken basically for two rational and one emotional reason. We saw that the city of Lugano is impressively active in the Blockchain space with its PlanB initiative and with the Ticino Blockchain Technology Association TBTA, there is a dynamic ecosystem that is already cooperating with us in a very fruitful way. And third: As a Ticinese myself it is nice for me to go back to my roots with such an exciting activity.
How did you already cooperate with the TBTA?
After becoming a member of the association at the beginning of this year, the TBTA organized an event where our Chairman Prof. Aditya Singh (Director Athena School of Management, Mumbai), a close partner of the Think Tank Prof. Crenguta Leaua (Director of the Swiss Institute for Alternative Thinking), and myself spoke about various aspects of ESG. In July of this year, we organized the ESG meets Blockchain Summit together with the TBTA and SUPSI, where the Chairman of the TBTA, Giacomo Poretti is a lecturer. In addition to this, we will have an event with the Camera di Commercio Cantone Ticino on November 20th at Banca Stato in Bellinzona, talking about ESG as business opportunities for SMEs in Ticino and how blockchain technology can help.
Sounds like things are moving quite fast for you…
Yes, this topic is very dynamic, and the open questions are so broad and challenging that we need to move at this pace.
What are the ESG topics that you, as ESG Center of Excellence, are focusing on right now?
Our current priorities include the following two questions: “How can ESG principles help improve blockchain systems?” and “How can blockchain principles help improve ESG systems?” Furthermore, topics we are deep diving into are “ESG Investing: the rise of a new standard” and “Leveraging blockchain towards SDGs” and the third big field has to do with the more and more challenging issue of “ESG Reporting”. The reason for this decision is that legislation in the EU foresees a mandatory disclosure from 2024 onwards with Corporate and even Personal liability on “overly promotional” ESG disclosure.
Were all these topics also addressed during the ESG meets Blockchain Summit in July?
Absolutely. We had more than 20 speakers from 15 countries presenting very interesting use cases, theories, and projects, all while engaging in open and respectful discussions about relevant approaches to these issues.
What were your Summit highlights and key takeaways?
As the summit host I really enjoyed each and every contribution and was glad that I could review the speeches and panels later on when I was producing a 1000-second and a 100-minute highlight video of the event. By the way: everybody could participate via live stream virtually and can still watch these two highlight videos and all other contributions here.
Any specific highlights if you would need to mention let’s say three?
This is hard, but I’ll try. I found the presentation of the project “UNECE Framework initiative – the Blockchain Pilots for Traceability and Transparency in Textile and Leather Value Chains” by Maria Teresa Pisani (Acting Head, Sustainable Trade and Outreach Unit, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) and Ing. Giacomo Poretti (President Ticino blockchain Technology Association TBTA and Docente e Ricercatore, Dipartimento tecnologie innovative, SUPSI) very interesting. Furthermore, I also enjoyed the entire afternoon of Summit Day 1 where our partner, Price Waterhouse Coopers Switzerland, spoke about “Insights on operational, conduct and reputational risk management with special focus on ESG”. Very structured, very clear and convincing. And third I liked the last panel on Summit Day 2 a lot where the four female personalities Prof. Crenguta Leaua (Director, Swiss Institute for Alternative Thinking), Daniela Lulache (Head of the Office of Policy and Coordination, OECD Nuclear Energy Agency NEA), Elena Panaritis (Founder & CEO Panel Group LLC and Thought4Action) and Ute Bock (Risk Consultant, former Chief Risk Management Officer Stellantis) have rocked the stage intellectually. Can I please mention one or two more?
Yes, of course, go ahead…
The keynote speech of Enrico Sassoon (Editor-in-Chief of Harvard Business Review in Italy, Board Member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy and of Aspen Institute Italia) about “ESG investing - a facet of conscious capitalism” was very stimulating and put a lot of things into perspective for me. Last but definitely not least, I want to mention the keynote speech of Senida Mesi (Development Economist, EU Commission Expert on Sustainable Finance, former Deputy Prime Minister Albania & Member of Parliament) speaking about “Scaling Up Sustainable Finance – A European Perspective on ESG”.
Will there be another ESG meets Blockchain Summit in the future?
Yes. We are already working with our partners TBTA and SUPSI on the planning of the second edition – which will take place on July 11th and 12th 2024 in Lugano. As you say in French “la faim vient en mangeant”, meaning hunger comes with eating, and this is exactly how we feel right now. We are eager to serve more “food for thought” because the challenges and open questions with respect to ESG are not getting less, in the contrary… but besides next year’s Summit, we are also very much looking forward to this year’s Lugano Finance Forum, because we were given the opportunity by the organizers FinLantern to conceptualize and moderate a three-hour ESG Session taking place on November 21st.
Can you tell us what will be the main topics you will address in this ESG Session on November 21st?
Yes of course. The title of the session is “Driving stakeholder value with a strong ESG Strategy” and the baseline is “Business Excellence in ESG-Management leads to a higher company value and strengthens the company’s strategic position in a competitive environment”. We will tackle the three following perspectives: 1. Legal Perspective: Proactively mitigate emergent risks, 2. Investment Perspective: Integrating ESG Leadership into the Equity Story and 3. Business Perspective: Identifying growth opportunities: ESG in the core business and as a business model.
Do you want to add anything else?
Yes. Besides the various experts in the fields of Legal, Business, and Science sharing their views on the different perspectives of business excellence in ESG-management, we as the ESG Center of Excellence will present our integrated platform concept “ESG as a Product, a Process, a Service®” for the first time in public. The detailed program can be seen here.