Highlights of 7th Annual Chief Sustainability Officer Summit & Symposium

Posted on May 14, 2024 by Joshua Baer – Sustainability Analyst – G&A Institute

#Corporate Purpose #Corporate Sustainability #ESG Issues #Financially Material #Issue Management #Materiality 

By Joshua Baer – Sustainability Analyst – G&A Institute

The 7th annual Chief Sustainability Officer Summit & Symposium (CSOSS7) was an enlightening event for all who are interested in Sustainable Business, with engaging networking opportunities, inspiring presentations and thought-provoking discussions.

Taking place on April 5, at LEED Gold-certified Lakeside Village on the University of Miami’s beautiful Coral Gables campus, CSOSS7 hosted a diverse range of attendees made up of students, alumni, academics, faculty and staff, and Chief Sustainability Officers (CSOs) and sustainable business professionals from a wide range of industries.

Presented by Miami Herbert Business School, in partnership with the Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric and Earth Science, and the College of Engineering, the theme of CSOSS7 was “Building Consensus in an Election Year.” Whether tuned in through the lens of corporate sustainability, capital markets, real estate, or other fields, this year’s conference offered valuable insights.  Key takeaways include:

Opening Remarks

In the Opening Remarks, Daniel Hicks, Lecturer in Economics from Miami Herbert Business School, introduced John Koudounis, CEO of Calamos Investments, who offered his perspective on the current state and outlook of sustainability and its role and responsibility within the global investment and business landscape.

Accounting – Corporate Reporting

Khrystyna Bochkay, Associate Professor, Accounting from Miami Herbert Business School opened the first session by introducing Elizabeth Seeger, Board Member from the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), IFRS Foundation, who gave an informative presentation on ISSB and its future work plan.

Seeger stressed the importance of ISSB’s purpose to enhance dialogue between investors and companies and to produce information that is decision useful for investors and cost effective for companies.

Following the presentation, there was a Q&A and discussion which included Chris Hagler, Head of ESG and Impact at Independence Point Advisors, and Miguel Pena, Head of ESG Strategic Planning at Royal Caribbean Group. This was a very interesting and well-rounded discussion on sustainability reporting from the perspective of standard setters, preparers, and auditors, including discussing the challenges of “regulatory fragmentation” and the importance of internal audit and pre-assurance as part of the assurance process.

Finance – ESG Investing

The second session was on ESG Investing and was led by Tony Tursich, Senior Vice President and Co-Portfolio Manager at Calamos Investments, and featured Robert Fernandez, Director, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Universal Insurance Holdings, Erin Meezan, Chief Sustainability Office at JLL, and James Madden, Senior Vice President and Co-Portfolio Manager at Calamos Investments.

This session began with an introduction by Tursich, including a presentation on Calamos Investments’ perspective and strategy on ESG investing, including its One Planet Prosperity concept, followed by a panelist discussion.

Key discussion topics included the meaning, history, role, and future of the term “ESG,” ESG investing and materiality from the perspective of the portfolio manager and CSO, and the state and significance of reporting regulations including from the SEC, CA SB253 and SB261, and CSRD.

Real Estate – Climate and Affordability

The Real Estate session discussed key topics of affordability, inclusivity, and climate from the lens of various stakeholders within real estate and development. This session was led by Andrea Heuson, Professor of Finance at Miami Herbert Business School, and featured Esber Andiroglu, Associate Professor, College of Engineering and School of Architecture, Erin Meezan, Chief Sustainability Officer at JLL, Albert Milo, Jr., Principal and President of Related Urban Development Group, and Megan Saunders, Sr. Managing Director, ESG at Kayne Anderson.

CSO Summit in Cooperation with Council for Inclusive Capitalism

Featuring CSOs and sustainability leaders, the final session focused on reporting social metrics on a global landscape, including its challenges, importance, and future. This session was led by Daniel Hicks and featured panelists including Amy Quintana Avalos, Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer at World Kinetic Corporation, Nancy Mahon, Chief Sustainability Officer, Estee Lauder Companies, Erin Meezan, Chief Sustainability Officer, JLL, and Pablo Necoechea, Former Director of ESG and Sustainability and National Manager of Sustainability and Climate Change at Grupo Televisa and Tecnológico de Monterrey University.

CSOSS7 offered an inclusive and motivating environment, bringing together industry leaders, researchers, students, and professionals to discuss the state and future of sustainable business and to make meaningful connections in hopes of driving impactful change.

By Joshua Baer – Sustainability Analyst – G&A Institute

Joshua Baer is a Sustainability Analyst at G&A Institute. He is a graduate of the University of Miami (Florida), with Master’s degree of Science in Sustainable Business and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.