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– It is important to have a direct voice in where decisions are made

Nina Jensen, CEO of Rev Ocean.
By Linea Bancel|Published 23 November 2021|Category: News

CEO of REV Ocean Nina Jensen is keynote speaker et Energy:Connected on December 8th. As well as being CEO, Jensen is a climate activist and sits on more than seven boards – this is where she can have the biggest influence, she says.

– This is where the important decisions are made regarding the company’s development – strategic priorities – what the leaders in the company are to be measured on and required to report on. If you really want to have an influence on the development of society and companies then it is important to be able to have a direct voice where the decisions are made – that has been my driving force.

Together with Professor David Victor, she will take part in a conversation on the topic “Sustainability in the boardroom” at this year’s Energy:Connected. You can read our interview with David Victor here.

– I want to discuss how important it is to bring sustainability expertise to the boards and how important it is that the boards and management of the companies put this at the top of the agenda. It should be considered as a business opportunity, not just a problem, she says when asked about what her main message at the conference will be.

Passion for the ocean

After 15 years at WWF Norway, Jensen became the CEO of REV Ocean in 2018. Ever since she was a child Jensen knew that she wanted to work for WWF. So, when Kjell Inge Røkke came asking her to lead REV Ocean it took a long time for her to come around.

Røkke wanted Jensen and WWF to help figure out what his new research ship REV Ocean could contain and what the project should be. After a year of getting to know each other and him continuing to insist for her to take the job, Nina finally accepted to take on the leadership role.

– If I want to save the ocean, what could be better than combining my passion for the sea with the means and knowledge of an industrialist and capitalist, she said to E24.

With the job transfer, she also received a promise that Aker would not expand oil operations in particularly vulnerable areas, such as Lofoten, Vestrålen, and Senja.

Using her position for change

When asked what her position as a board member has contributed to, she lists up among other things making the boards more diverse and gender-balanced, establishing sustainability strategies in selected companies, and pushing to see how far these strategies can go.

– In the time we live in where there are so many big changes happening, it is even more important than ever that you also have diversity on the boards. In this way those who sit there are not caught in their own little bubble, but challenge their way of thinking and see new and different solutions, she says and adds:

– It is the role of different board members to push and pull in different directions and then you find the best solution and compromise in the end.

Activists are needed

Net-zero pledges and greenwashing is a problem and tendency that needs to be managed and being on a board can be a way to do so.

– It is great to establish net zero pledges, but companies need to recognize that they cannot plant their way out of this problem. You have to do the hard work of cutting your emissions, and ideally develop new climate solutions at the same time.

PwC’s climate index shows that more and more companies are clearly communicating ambitions and quantified climate goals. At the same time, only five companies are cutting back in line with the Paris Agreement, and many lack an overview of the company’s indirect emissions.

– Only five of the largest 100 companies in Norway have established goals and plans to be in line with the 1.5-degree goal – only five out of 100 in a well-informed Norwegian society – where really everything should be in place to take the right steps, says Jensen and adds:

– Activists are needed, internal pressure is needed, and the boards need to take this seriously. It is necessary that those who lead the companies are held accountable for ensuring that climate emissions go down, that they are measured on this and that bonus payments are adjusted in line with that, otherwise we will not get the necessary change.