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Lambert van Nistelrooij

Member of the European Parliament

The SEA aims to recognise outstanding projects that put Sustainable Entrepreneurship into practice. What was your motivation for joining the SEA jury?

The best way to promote change is not to punish, but rather to reward people and businesses that embrace sustainable entrepreneurship. This will convince others to follow them.

What does Sustainable Entrepreneurship mean to you personally?

Sustainable Entrepreneurship is about reaching a balance between social, financial, and ecological aspects in businesses. This is the only way forward in a world where resources are not endless and where we want to ensure certain social standards.

It would seem that Sustainable Entrepreneurship has become even more relevant in the wake of the crisis. Do you agree? And why is it that it often takes a crisis for a shift in awareness to come about – in business, as well as in politics and society?

It indeed seems to be that in a lot of cases, change doesn’t happen without a real need to change current practices. For example, only after being confronted by skyrocketing fuel prices due to soaring demand from countries like China, instability in the Middle East and reports suggesting the world will run out of fossil fuels in the long term, carmakers started to seriously develop hybrid and electric cars. Many changes require heavy investments; therefore, for a commercial company, subjected to worldwide competition, there needs to be a real need for it. Similar mechanisms apply to politics and society.

Politics, industry, society – who should be driving force for the development of Sustainable Entrepreneurship?

Sustainable Entrepreneurship should be jointly promoted by politics, industry and society. However, the best way to bring about changes, in my experience, is to have a bottom-up approach. Therefore, I would say that industry and society should lead the charge.

In what way can each and every one of us contribute towards increasing the relevance of Sustainable Entrepreneurship?

Practice what you preach, be a good example.

How can Sustainable Entrepreneurship measures be prevented from being nothing more than greenwashing? Which internal measures and methods must be applied?

I am not so concerned about greenwashing. Sustainable Entrepreneurship is not a burden or a public relations slogan in the end. To the contrary, it increases the commitment of employees and the appreciation by customers, therefore strengthening the competitiveness of companies. Many companies therefore embrace sustainable entrepreneurship wholeheartedly.