A Letter from New WEC Chair Francisco Suárez
Dear WEC Colleagues:
I want to thank each of you for your continuing participation in the World Environment Center (WEC). It is a great honor and responsibility to have been elected by the Board of Directors as your new Chairman, and I want to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on WEC’s focus and priorities for this year. Based on the results of our recent membership survey, I too believe in maintaining WEC as a strong, independent voice for business on sustainability issues. Indeed, 2016 provides even greater opportunities for WEC to strengthen the value it generates for member companies by providing vital leadership on important topics. With this in mind, I am convinced that we need to advance four important priorities in 2016:
1. Providing further focus on evaluating the role of sustainability in business transformation. This priority addresses the ongoing internal alignment within our own organizations, the growing role of sustainability in customer relationships, the assessment of new business models and megatrends, and the development of collaboration strategies to reach market scale. Last year, WEC published an innovative report on sustainability and Chief Financial Officers. Over the next several months, it will publish companion evaluations of sustainability and Chief Marketing Officers and Chief Procurement Officers. In addition, Marks & Spencer will host an April 27 roundtable on “Business Planning for the Future,” a business conversation among global thought leaders. This year’s Gold Medal Colloquium on May 20 will feature a set of interconnected discussions on innovation and marketplace transformation, public policy drivers, and changing customer expectations.
2. Continuing to expand our program on “Preparing Business Leaders for a Sustainable Future.” WEC is planning major roundtables on such diverse topics as managing human rights, integrating company reporting with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and examining the future of the electricity grid and the role of utilities and customers.
3. Expanding membership. Coca-Cola FEMSA and WEC are embarking on a major initiative to recruit leading Latin American companies into our membership. This is a region where WEC has considerable experience and many local partners. We are planning company visits and roundtables in Mexico and other nations this year. In addition, we have initiated membership discussions with companies in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
4. Updating WEC’s strategic plan. Given the rapid changes that impact our companies, governments, and stakeholders, it’s critical that WEC remain focused on the issues on which it can provide unique leadership. Based on your feedback from the recent membership survey, along with a similar evaluation involving major WEC stakeholders, the Board plans to evaluate our best options for the future at its May 19 meeting. As part of this review, we will conduct a benchmarking assessment comparing WEC with five other sustainability organizations. We will also review the future of the Gold Medal dinner, its funding, and worth in the context of strengthening WEC’s brand and value to membership.
Since joining WEC in 2010, I remain struck by its unique ability to continually attract the world’s thought leaders to interact with us on leading business challenges. WEC is able to achieve results far beyond those attained by many other groups, while maintaining a strong on-the-ground capability in many regions. While I believe WEC has made important progress in recent years, including its role as a resource to the broader sustainability community through social media and publications, it’s important that we continue to create new opportunities to expand its voice.
I look forward to serving as your Chairman in 2016. I welcome your thoughts—please let me hear from you.
Francisco Suárez Hernández
Corporate Affairs Officer, Coca-Cola FEMSA Chairman, WEC Board of Directors