Thursday 15 November, 8:45 in the morning. Slowly but steadily the Čiurlionis conference hall is filling up with people. A group of businessmen and -women and diplomats numbering around 120 has gathered in Vilnius’s Technopolis to attend the yearly Nordic-Baltic CSR summit, co-organised by SCCL. This year’s topic: ‘Digitalisation: a driver to sustainability’.

A little after 9:00 a moderator opens the summit and the Norwegian ambassador to Lithuania kicks off with a welcome word. His opening remarks are followed by a short presentation by the director of the Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania. The tone for the day is set and Heleen de Goey from Cybercom has the honor to be the first presenter to dig deeper into this year’s topic. She tells us more about how to make the fourth industrial revolution – that of digitalization – not only a smart but also a sustainable one.

After a short coffee break the Sustainability Development Director of YARA elaborates on the Nordic and global CSR perspective. She does this through two projects that are dear to her and her company. Firstly, she talks about how digitalization can help maximizing agricultural yields and how this in turn contributes to CSR. Then she gives an example of how YARA has developed an autonomous electric freight ship to transport their fertilizer around the world in a more sustainable way.

This global perspective on digitalization and CSR is then narrowed down to the Nordic-Baltic perspective by a group of four speakers. A Norwegian and a Finn present their views on how to move from responsibility to human resources and from human resources to innovation respectively, Roland Lidberg and Povilas Junevičius add the Swedish-Lithuanian perspective to the summit. Lidberg works for AstraZeneca and presents his views on why happy employees matter to CSR. He compares business to the engine of a car: the company is the engine, employees are the gears and customers are the axes. The more comfortable employees feel, he says, the more gears the business ‘engine’ has and the faster the ‘car’ can drive.

Junevičius – who works for Ellex Valiunas – adds to the table how artificial intelligence can improve CSR. He uses his own company as an example for how AI can transfer easy and boring tasks from employees to machines and how people therefore have more time to make positive change happen.

The last presentation of the day is about empowering CSR with personal action and after this presentation a fruitful panel discussion is launched about people versus machines. This leads to some interesting questions from the public and leaves food for thought for during the last program element: networking while enjoying sustainable refreshments.

By Jordi Bakker