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The 20FIFTY Partners Sustainability Practitioners’ Conference, held in association with the Skillnet Climate Ready Academy at the Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, brought together over 200 attendees from diverse industry sectors The 20FIFTY Partners Sustainability Practitioners’ Conference, held in association with the Skillnet Climate Ready Academy at the Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, brought together over 200 attendees from diverse industry sectors

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20FIFTY Partners Sustainability Practitioners Conference addresses issues of climate change and sustainable business practices

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20FIFTY Partners Sustainability Practitioners Conference – Pictured were, Harold Pauwels, Director of Standards, Global Reporting Initiative, Ken Stockil, CEO 20Fifty Partners, Maria Kelly, 20Fifty Partners and Paul Healy, Chief Executive, Skillnet Ireland. Picture: Alan Place

20FIFTY Partners Sustainability Practitioners Conference was held in association with the Skillnet Climate Ready Academy at the UL Kemmy Business School

Harold Pauwels, Director of Standards, Global Reporting Initiative, Maria Kelly, 20FIFTY Partners and Ken Stockil, CEO 20Fifty Partners. Picture: Alan Place

The 20FIFTY Partners Sustainability Practitioners’ Conference, held in association with the Skillnet Climate Ready Academy at the Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, brought together over 200 attendees from diverse industry sectors to address the pressing issues of climate change and sustainable business practices. The conference underscored the critical need for robust research and standardized frameworks to drive sustainable transformation across organizations.

The event featured keynote addresses and presentations from prominent figures including Harold Pauwels from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Paul Healy, CEO Skillnet Ireland and representatives from the IDA, Bord na Móna, Business Stream, the DAA, and Uisce Éireann. These leaders shared insights on the latest trends, challenges, and solutions in sustainability reporting and transformation.


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Opening the conference Paul Healy CEO of Skillnet Ireland said, “Businesses need to develop the skills and competencies to integrate sustainability into their core operations, models and business strategy and understand what is material for their business in the years ahead. But most importantly, business need talent to lead this charge and businesses depend on the talent and practitioners in the room to continue their efforts and inspiring work at the forefront of this economic, environmental and social reset.”

Harold Pauwels, Director of Standards at GRI, said “The role of the evolving Environmental Disclosure Landscape in supporting sustainable transformation is critical. Every organisation has a broad range of stakeholders who need clear, standardized, and structured information to evaluate the economic, environmental, and social performance. This enables us to obtain a clear picture of the human and ecological impact of business and make informed decisions about sustainable development.”

He noted the significant progress made in harmonizing sustainability reporting with financial reporting, citing the alignment of the European ESRS impact reporting with GRI standards as a pivotal development.

Key discussions at the conference focused on the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) requirements, the skills and leadership needed for sustainability initiatives, and the strategic planning essential for business transformation. Insights gathered from industry practice including case studies from Bord na Mona and APB Food Group were shared with the potential to inform policy and standard setting across Europe.  The conference also emphasized the role of transparent communication in building trust and fostering a culture of sustainability within organizations while avoiding the pitfalls of communicating green.

Ken Stockil, CEO of 20FIFTY Partners, expressed his enthusiasm for the collaborative efforts displayed at the conference. “It is inspiring to see researchers and practitioners from public and private sectors across Ireland and Europe come together to tackle shared challenges. Exploring how businesses engage in transformational planning processes to fully embed sustainability principles, policies, and practices is a key outcome of the conference. We wanted to provide further information on the various standards and reporting requirements. Participants gained valuable insights from experts on CSRD, evolving global standards, and transition planning,” said Stockil.

A notable highlight of the conference was the launch of the new Origin Green Academy Pathway to Biodiversity Planning Programme in collaboration with Bord Bia. This initiative aims to enhance biodiversity planning and sustainability practices among businesses.

As part of the Sustainability Practitioners Conference, a graduation ceremony for 80 graduates from the Skillnet Climate Ready Academy at the Sustainability Practitioners Conference was held at Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick (UL). The students, from various industry backgrounds, were awarded a level 7 Certificate in the Fundamentals of Sustainable Resource Management accredited by the University of Limerick after completing the first ever industry led stackable micro-credentials in this area.

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