CEO Action Group Will Support European Commission on Advancing European Green Deal

14 May 2020

Yann Zopf, Head of Media, World Economic Forum: +41 79 204 1610;

  • The World Economic Forum announced a new initiative that will provide a platform for business and industry leaders to shape a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and to accelerate key deliverables of the European Green Deal agenda.
  • Europe can emerge from the crisis stronger if it manages to sustain momentum on Europe’s low-carbon transition.
  • The European Commission estimates that Europe’s transition to carbon neutrality by 2050 requires at least €1 trillion over the next decade, plus more than €260 billion annually.

Geneva, Switzerland, 14 May 2020 – The World Economic Forum brought together leaders from the European Commission with chief executives and top-level representatives from the private sector to discuss the path to a green and sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery. The Forum’s new CEO Action Group for the European Green Deal, chaired by Thomas Buberl, CEO of AXA, agreed to advance the dialogue on the critical challenges facing Europe’s post-pandemic recovery and to work together to build a plan of action for mobilizing business to contribute in advancing the European Green Deal agenda.

“We must all join forces in the fight against the virus and the climate crisis. No government or business can handle this alone – strong partnerships and deepened cooperation are needed. I, therefore, welcome the launch of the CEO Action Group to support the European Green Deal, which must be the compass for our recovery and for building a resilient and climate-neutral future for Europe,” said Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany.

Since the launch of the European Green Deal in December 2019, the context for Europe has changed fundamentally. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the region now faces the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression with the Eurozone economy potentially contracting up to 7.7% this year. While the focus is on immediate economic relief and saving households and jobs, the crisis has also opened an opportunity to consider a great transition of societies and economies.

“The European Green Deal must become the cornerstone of Europe’s pandemic recovery. Rather than rebuilding the 20th-century economy, we must focus on spending stimulus money wisely and on preparing Europe for a competitive and inclusive 21st-century, climate-neutral future,” said Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, European Commission.

“We have a unique opportunity to build a greener and more resilient Europe through investment and innovation. Today, the private sector and the public sector made a clear statement in support of a European Green Deal. As chair of this CEO Action Group, I am looking forward to working with my colleagues towards concrete proposals to make the Green Deal actionable, effective, and, ultimately, successful” said Thomas Buberl, Chief Executive Officer of AXA.

The crisis presents an opportunity to accelerate industry innovation, including in the aviation sector. “Aviation will be fundamental to the economy recovering. But we must take the opportunity to build back better, cutting carbon from flying so that we tackle the greatest long-term challenge we face. By creating the right incentives and regulation, and investing their own funds, governments can make sustainable aviation fuels commercial and kick-start a whole new industry,” said John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive Officer, Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom.

“The European Green Deal is an opportunity to deliver a sustainable and inclusive COVID-19 recovery. This is Europe’s chance to offer global leadership. Business plays a critical role to accelerate investments and action to realize this ambitious plan – that is why we created the CEO Action Group for the European Green Deal,” said Martina Larkin, Head of Europe and Eurasia, and Member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum.

Members of the CEO Action Group include:

- Claudia Azevedo, Chief Executive Officer, SONAE Portugal

- Marco Alverà, Chief Executive Officer, Snam

- Michael Altendorf, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Adtelligence, Germany

- Thomas Buberl, Chief Executive Officer, AXA

- Kai Beckmann, Chief Executive Officer, Performance Materials; Member of the Executive Board, Merck, Germany

- Jesper Brodin, Chief Executive Officer, Ingka Group (IKEA), Netherlands

- Dick Benschop, President and Chief Executive Officer, Royal Schiphol Group, Netherlands

- Levent Çakıroğlu, Chief Executive Officer, Koç Holding, Turkey

- Bertrand Camus, Chief Executive Officer, SUEZ, France

- Niels B. Christiansen, Chief Executive Officer, LEGO Group, Denmark

- Liam Condon, President, Bayer Crop Science, Bayer, Germany

- Hanneke Faber, President, Foods and Refreshment Division, Unilever, Netherlands

- Anne Finucane, Vice-Chairman, Bank of America, USA

- Jean-Marc Germain, Chief Executive Officer, Constellium, France

- Svein Tore Holsether, President and Chief Executive Officer, Yara International, Norway

- John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive Officer, Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom

- Paul Hudson, Chief Executive Officer, Sanofi, France

- Nuno Matos, Chief Executive Europe, HSBC Holdings, United Kingdom

- François Riahi, Chief Executive Officer, Natixis, France

- Yves Robert-Charrue, Member of the Executive Board and Head of Switzerland, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Bank Julius Baer, Switzerland

- Veronica Scotti, Chairperson, Public Sector Solutions, Swiss Re Management, Switzerland

- Camilla Hagen Sørli, Member of the Board, Canica, Norway

- Feike Sybesma, Honorary Chairman, Royal DSM, Netherlands

- Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Schneider Electric, France

- Sebastian Vos, Partner, Covington & Burling, USA

For further information about this initiative, click here or contact Martina Larkin (, Head of Europe and Eurasia, and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum; or Pim Valdre (, Community Lead, Europe, and Eurasia, World Economic Forum.

All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.

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