Rabobank CEO and Axa’s Thimann join new EU body for SDGs

European Commission will take advice on Sustainable Development Goals from 30-strong group

The European Commission has appointed Rabobank’s CEO, Wiebe Draijer and Axa Group’s Head of Regulation, Sustainability and Insurance Foresight, Christian Thimann to a newly-formed ‘High-Level Stakeholder Platform’ to make progress on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The group was created to “provide a forum for exchange of best practice at local, regional, national and EU level,” the Commission said in a statement. It will also advise the Commission on delivering the 17 goals, which were launched by the UN in 2015.
The Commission has said it will “fully integrate the development goals in the European policy framework and current Commission priorities” as well as launching “reflection work on further developing our longer-term vision and the focus of sectoral policies after 2020, preparing for the long-term implementation of the development goals”.
The new platform will be chaired by the First Vice-President of the Commission. Currently, this role belongs to Jyrki Katainen, who has been a driving force behind the European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (HLEG).
“Circular economy and sustainable finance are examples of the innovative European way to ensure growth and investment that do not harm out planet and our people, in all areas of the economy,” Katainen said in a statement about the new Platform.
Thimann is already the Vice-Chair of the Financial Stability Board’s Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure, and Chair of HLEG.
Before being CEO of Rabobank, Draijer was Chairman of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands and spent more than two decades at McKinsey and Company.Both have been appointed in their personal capacities, according to the Commission.
Also appointed in a personal capacity to the 30-strong group is Janez Potočnik, former European Commissioner for Environment and Minister for European Affairs for Slovenia; and Vandinika Shukla, a Consultant for Intergovernmental Processes and Coordination at UN Women, with a focus on India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
Other individual members include Sergi Corbalán, the Executive Director of Fair Trade Advocacy Office, and Mella Frewen, Director General of lobby group FoodDrinkEurope.
Companies appointed to the Platform include Unilever and Enel. The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) is also a member, alongside Transparency International, SDG Watch Europe, WWF European Policy Programme and BusinessEurope. For a full list of members, see here.
The Platform has been in the works since it was announced at the end of last year, but appointments have only been underway since May. The Commission says the members are based on attempts to create “an inclusive and balanced stakeholder representation, including civil society, non-governmental organisations and the private and corporate sector, and covering the social, economic and environmental as well as the internal and external policy dimensions of sustainable development”.

Additional reporting by Elena K. Johansson