GACSO meeting

Today I chaired the first meeting of members and supporters of GACSO ( – short for the Global Association of Corporate Sustainability Officers.

This is a body I and some of my closest SD professional colleagues have created to achieve what we have termed the “codification of the role of the corporate SD professional”. We did this because we are convinced that no-one has really outlined the precise role and value of the sustainability professional in business.

We all have our own opinion but we believe that those of us who have been in the profession for years are pretty well qualified to know what is required to identify the characteristics of the role and how we can support those professionals in business. Twenty of us met, and whilst we all agreed that it was right to create something like GACSO, we argued about where was the evidence that a new organisation was needed. These are important questions and the debate is necessary but nonetheless it felt like something was happening.

I was reminded of my first conversations 20 years ago with a similar number of people but they were from the forest sector. This meeting led to the creation of the Forest Stewardship Council. Starting a new workstream is always difficult but you know you are on to something important when, despite some degree of ambiguity, the conversation is focused, energetic and full of goodwill.

It was a three hour meeting but it felt like less than one. Our next task is for those 20 people to contribute to a paper that outlines our job description and key skills. This alone will not change the world, but it will help those whose role it is to change the companies that can influence the world. If you want to know about the work going on, go to