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Paris: “decarbonization manager”, “biodiversity project manager” or even “extra-financial reporting officer”: “green” businesses are increasingly sought after and specialized, and are often a part of corporate strategy. Is integral – not just a matter of communication.

Measuring and reducing their company’s environmental footprint: This is the role of sustainable development departments, popular with the tightening of climate legislation.

“I started in 2004 as an assistant at a boutique in London,” says Ruth Andrade, who manages cosmetics brand Lush’s sustainable growth strategy for the United Kingdom and Europe.

A convinced vegan, she persuaded one of Lush’s founders, Mark Constantine, to take a closer look at the environmental impact of their products, which were then packaged in plastic. Until being in charge of a dedicated department in London.

One member of his team is dedicated exclusively to the analysis of the production chain. “They studied the carbon footprint of all our materials and all risks: deforestation, land rights problems for local populations, soil degradation or impact on biodiversity”, Ruth Andrade details.

Using analysis software (MarkerSight, Altruistic or even Maplecroft), the brand develops a risk score and receives a list of recommended ingredients.

Formulas of soap or solid shampoos for which Lush is known can then be adapted: less rose essential oil, whose production is energy-intensive, or more lemon essential oil, which does not absorb as much CO.

According to Dominic Mamkarz, director of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) at La Poste Group’s international distribution network DPDG Group, the “greening” of jobs is largely driven by legislative changes.

Because companies must take into account the European “green” taxonomy, a list of energy that is considered climate-friendly and that facilitates some financing.

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The 2014 European Directive, which has been revised in 2020, also requires companies to disclose their environmental, social and governance (ESG) data. In 2023, this obligation will pertain to all structures that employ more than 250 people, and no longer 500.

“Our role is to detect weak signals, in which direction the regulations will evolve”, the latest innovation”, explains Dominic Mamkarz.

For example, his company wants to deploy low-emission vehicles in 350 European cities by 2025.

But to balance its carbon footprint in 2021 and offset the 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 emitted in 2020, DPDGroup was forced to buy carbon credits, particularly through wind farms in India.

technical shortcomings

In the short term, “consulting companies want to double their +sustainable development+ teams”, estimates Caroline Renoux of French firm Bardeo.

Last year, multinational consulting firm PwC announced that it wanted to hire 100,000 people within five years in the areas of climate change and artificial intelligence.

Harko J., the head of Acre, one of Europe’s largest recruitment agencies for “sustainable development managers”. “We have an incredible talent crowd and we get calls from customers every day,” says Lertouver.

Originally, these positions came from within the organization itself. Today, after specialized training, they are often recruited from outside. But there is a dearth of technically competent candidates, the recruiters point out.

In any case, for real impact, the company’s management must show voluntariness on environmental issues.

But “large organizations have a lot of inertia and bureaucracy, so it’s true that it’s complicated”, notes Olivier Delbard, academic director of the diploma specializing in “sustainability” at the ESCP Business School in Paris.

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But the professor admits that these positions, which were previously often limited to “communications and public relations functions”, are now associated with “operations and strategy”.

“You still have sustainable development managers in large French groups today who sit on the board on the management committee,” enthuses the researcher. A positive sign, if not symbolic.

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About the Author: Forrest Morton

Organizer. Zombie aficionado. Wannabe reader. Passionate writer. Twitter lover. Music scholar. Web expert.

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