Nordic Foundations Conference: Kone, Brita Maria Renlunds, and KR Foundations on how ESG can be done


Elika Roohi


‘The world is changing – and it’s changing fast. It’s no longer an option for us to look down or avert our eyes. We must look up, face the facts and take responsibility, together’: that was the call to action at the Nordic Foundations Conference, which took place in Copenhagen, Denmark, last week and hosted attendees from across Scandinavia to explore what it means to step up on funding with an ESG lens.

Alliance asked its readers what session they would most like to hear about in a poll, and the winner was ‘Look how it can be done’, a presentation of three perspectives from three foundations working within the categories of the ESG agenda.

What works, what are the challenges, and how can we find inspiration and learn from each other? Panellists Ulla Tuomarla from Finland’s Kone Foundation, Birgitta Forsström from Finland’s Stiftelsen Brita Maria Renlunds Minne, and Brian Valbjørn Sørensen from Denmark’s KR Foundation sought to answer these questions.

One project of the Kone Foundation, according to Tuomarla, provided much learning for their work. A residency for artists located in the Finnish countryside helped the Foundation understand how the environmental, social, and governance elements all work together in a project.

According to Sørensen, the KR Foundation has learned a lot about working with an ESG lens over the eight years since it was founded. The KR Foundation funds knowledge, communications, education, and activism, and through these areas, it seeks to affect unsustainable consumption.

The Brita Maria Renlunds Foundation meanwhile tries to see its ESG work across multiple areas. According to Forsström, the foundation considers ESG in its asset management, internal operations, and programmes.

‘Everything we do is about social governance,’ Forsström said. The Foundation also explores the ‘E’ side of things through environmental projects for children.

Other foundations come more easily to the environmental work than the social or governance work. According to Sørensen, the KR Foundation was founded originally as an organisation with a mission for climate intervention – the ‘S’ and the ‘G’ came later, as the team explored a flexible and adaptive approach to find the best way to fund their programmes.

For the Kone Foundation, which promotes the arts as well as research, the social part of the ESG lens came more quickly, with environmental and governance work following after.

All three speakers shared that though you may begin in one place, through collaborative and consultative work, you can end up with a developed and well-rounded approach to ESG.

Elika Roohi is Digital Editor at Alliance.

Tagged in: Nordic Foundations Conference 2022

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