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DI Walter Ruck, AT

President of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce

What does Sustainable Entrepreneurship mean for you personally?

In addition to a company’s economic interest, the inclusion of social and ecological considerations is not only a moral obligation for entrepreneurs, but also one of the basic principles of any functioning economic system. It is therefore a matter of personal concern to me that the provision of advice and training by the Vienna Chamber of Commerce in this area should be expanded. I am proud to say that the Vienna Chamber of Commerce is itself an audited ‘eco-profit’ operation, which means that it not only talks about sustainability, it also puts it into practice.

In your opinion, how firmly has this way of thinking become established in society, and in particular in the minds of entrepreneurs?

Society is increasingly thinking about sustainability and is also acting on a sustainable basis. For many companies, the way they interact with nature and society has long been a guiding principle, influencing all their operational decisions. Experience shows that in particular people who set up their own companies are from the outset mostly oriented towards sustainability in their business methods. Viennese businesses alone invest two billion euros a year in environmental protection.

In your opinion, which sectors have made the most progress in putting Sustainable Entrepreneurship into practice, and which are falling behind?

There are good examples to be found in all sectors. The decisive point is that the companies’ commitment also has a positive economic effect. In this connection, support measures are important for stimulating the right kind of capital investment. For each euro provided for environmental protection, five euros is released for capital investment. This strengthens the Viennese economy and benefits the environment.

You are President of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce. What role does this organisation play in the promotion of sustainable economic activity?

The Vienna Chamber of Commerce is committed to the goal of a sustainable economy. We support our member businesses in many ways, helping them to achieve this goal, particularly in our role as partner of the ÖkoBusinessPlan Wien, which we are responsible for, together with the City of Vienna and the Environment Ministry. Over 800 Viennese businesses have participated so far, proving that economy and ecology are not mutually exclusive. In addition, with our energy and environment department we offer businesses information and advice on all issues relating to sustainability. With our business equipment service we also support companies in setting up or modifying their business equipment. A whole series of workshops entitled “Efficient use of resources for small and medium sized companies” in cooperation with the ÖkoBusinessPlan, illuminates the many different facets of sustainability. In the area of training also, the Chamber of Commerce has placed a special emphasis on the issue of sustainability. The extensive range of courses offered by WIFI Vienna and the academic course “Master of Sustainable Development” at MODUL University Vienna is just one example. In the Modul tourism school also, students are constantly brought into closer contact with sustainable economic activity.

Every year the SEA is given to entrepreneurs whose extraordinary projects have implemented Sustainable Entrepreneurship in practice. What convinced you to support this idea?

Sustainability and entrepreneurship are not mutually contradictory. On the contrary, they are inseparably connected if our aim is to achieve long term business success. This is why it is important for the Vienna Chamber of Commerce to support such projects and to create awareness of sustainability.

In what way can each one of us contribute to increasing the importance and value of Sustainable Entrepreneurship?

Each one of us can make sure that we use and produce items of greater value and greater sustainability. Often we also need to discard our previous modes of thought and set out on new paths. Sustainability is therefore also a stimulus for the commercial world to demonstrate its innovative capability.

One final question: What further initiatives in the field of Sustainable Entrepreneurship is the Vienna Chamber of Commerce contributing to?

To give one example: for the past eleven years, as Regional Partner of the Energy Globe Award and the Austria-wide Trigos CSR prize, we have been putting the spotlight on outstanding companies. And for over 25 years, with our MERCUR innovation prize, we have been continually presenting awards for sustainable ideas and initiatives from Viennese entrepreneurs. All these entrepreneurs deserve our respect for their splendid achievements and the example they set to other businesses.