Volkswagen Revamps Sustainability Division

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by KnowESG,

Volkswagen AG

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Volkswagen Group is set to revamp its Sustainability unit, with Dirk Voeste taking up the position of Chief Sustainability Officer effective April 1, 2023. Voeste will be reporting to Gernot Döllner, who is the Head of Group Strategy and General Secretariat.

After five years in the position, Ralf Pfitzner is stepping down as the Chief Sustainability Officer of the Volkswagen Group at his own request. Dirk Voeste will be taking over this role from him. Furthermore, the company is also reorganising its independent Sustainability Council to adapt to new challenges in the digital and sustainable transformation era.

According to CEO Oliver Blume, addressing climate change is a significant challenge of our era, and as such, the Volkswagen Group is continuously striving to transform and adopt a comprehensive approach to sustainability that encompasses economic, environmental, and social aspects.

The company has established ambitious ESG goals across all brands and divisions as part of its 10-point plan. Ralf Pfitzner successfully put sustainability on the Board of Management's agenda, and his strategic realignment efforts are greatly appreciated.

Dirk Voeste, the new Chief Sustainability Officer, will leverage his vast experience to continue pursuing the company's decarbonisation strategy and ESG goals while working alongside the brands to further develop them. In addition, the company is refining its Sustainability Council, making it more streamlined, agile, and focused on Volkswagen's sustainable transformation.

In 2018, the Volkswagen Group became the first automotive manufacturer to commit to the Paris Climate Agreement. The company's strategy and corporate objectives are geared towards achieving a net carbon-neutral footprint for the entire Group by no later than 2050, encompassing not only vehicles but also factories and processes.

The Sustainability unit, under Ralf Pfitzner's leadership, played a significant role in driving the decarbonisation programme's implementation in recent years. In 2021, the Group was reinstated into the UN Global Compact. Recently, Ralf Pfitzner and his team mobilised approximately 300,000 employees as part of the annual Project1Hour campaign.

Gernot Döllner, Head of Group Strategy and General Secretariat, commends Ralf Pfitzner's contribution to Volkswagen's enhanced ESG performance and positioning as a sustainable company through the successful implementation of the Group's decarbonisation programme.

He is pleased to have found an expert in sustainability matters, Dirk Voeste, to succeed Pfitzner, who has a proven track record in the field. With the groundwork laid, Döllner emphasises the need to continue implementing the ESG measures outlined in the 10-point plan across all brands and divisions.

The Sustainability unit is among the ten strategic action areas in which the Volkswagen Group is fully invested under the leadership of CEO Oliver Blume. Manfred Döss, the Board member responsible for Integrity and Legal Affairs, is the sponsor of this strategic initiative on the Group Board of Management. Döss is responsible for ensuring that the objectives are pursued rigorously and that the measures and target achievements are regularly evaluated. With over 20 years of experience in corporate sustainability, Dirk Voeste will spearhead the restructuring of the Sustainability department and ensure its management across brands and regions.

The independent Sustainability Council will remain as an advisory body to the Volkswagen Group. Established in 2016 to guide strategic issues related to sustainability and social responsibility, the Sustainability Council will continue to operate in its third term, focusing on supporting the implementation of the Group's sustainability strategy and the integration of ESG goals. Following its realignment, the Council will play a key role in ensuring the Group's sustainable transformation.

Georg Kell, who is the founding Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact and also the spokesperson of the Sustainability Council, has acknowledged the Volkswagen Group's commitment to sustainability as a strategic objective.

According to Kell, the speed of transformation is crucial for success, and the Sustainability Council is happy to provide continued support to the Group in this regard. The Council, which has been realigned to be more agile, will offer a critical and constructive external perspective while supporting the Group's sustainable transformation.

Dirk Voeste is a seasoned professional in the field of corporate sustainability, with extensive experience in developing and implementing sustainability strategies across various industries. He most recently served as Senior Vice President at BASF in the Sustainability, Regulatory and Public Affairs segment. Before that, he was the Vice President of BASF's Corporate Sustainability department, where he led the development and execution of the company's global sustainability strategy.

Voeste's responsibilities included identifying social and sustainability issues, setting targets, and implementing sustainability measures across all key business processes. He also oversaw portfolio management and evaluated investment decisions based on sustainability criteria.

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Source: Volkswagen


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