The President of the Republic, Friday, stressed the importance of continuing to focus on sustainability, even despite difficult circumstances, such as the pandemic and the military invasion of Ukraine. Sustainability “is the inevitable future. It is in the medium term, in the long term. We would like it to be more in the short term. But it is inevitable. However, there are a lot of things and a lot of people who are not aware of it”, stressed Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, At the end of the 20th Great Business Sustainability Conference | 30, which took place in Cascais and was broadcast live.
“We’re living through the pandemic, we’re living day by day,” he recalls. “We’re learning to deal with a new reality that we weren’t ready for, and no one was ready.” However, fears of an unknown disease were not enough to stop me thinking about the future and sustainability. “We still want to say that we are alive and we want a future. We want a better future. We are looking at the medium and long term,” the head of state emphasized.
As for the military crisis in Ukraine invaded by Russia. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa noted that the conflict, although close, has a global scope. “It is two or three days without sleep by car to Poland or any other country surrounding Ukraine, which is very close because we have a large community of Ukrainians living in our country. Yet it is global. What is at stake is the global power game in the world. Both sides, diplomacy does not stop for a moment.” Given these two important global events, the President of the Republic stressed that sustainability and concern for the environment cannot be excluded because of them. Not least, he noted, “We don’t know how long it will take for an epidemic to become an endemic disease. We don’t know how long a war will take, how long the effects of war will last. And what will happen next. None of us know what the ultimate and global effects of this war will be.” .
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa emphasized the need to look beyond circumstance and set an example of rising commodity prices and the importance of looking beyond the next day, even with inflation and rising values. He acknowledged that explaining sustainability is more difficult for the elderly and that Europe has a high rate of aging population. It is necessary to explain to them, says the president, that “it is necessary to look at future generations and look at the world that must be preserved.”
Speaking of companies specifically, he noted that not all of them are moving at the same pace and that there is no point in just looking at the bigger companies and the steps they are already taking in terms of sustainability. “The fabric of our business is largely made up of small and medium-sized companies. In these small and medium-sized companies, a lot of them are changing, but for others, it is a slower process. We cannot leave a part of the country behind, in a great distance from the pioneers and precursors,” defended the head of state .
Finally, he praised the presence of women and youth in the audience, which he considered “also a sign of sustainability,” and made an appeal to those in charge of companies. “It is necessary for businessmen and managers to do what is necessary in Portugal, which is to create a strong civil society. It is very difficult, everything depends on the state. Not even the local authorities do what they can. Nor does the regional authorities ”, thinks Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. “Talking about sustainability means changing one’s mindset. It’s very hard to change. It’s changing very slowly,” he concluded, in a speech that also paid tribute to today’s business award and winners: Jorge Sampaio, posthumously, and Claudia Azevedo, CEO of Sonae.