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Interview: Gesner Oliveira, economist and partner at GO Associados



This week, the Grape ESG Platform brings another special interview. This time, with Gesner Oliveira, economist, partner at GO Associates and coordinator of the Center for Infrastructure Studies and Environmental Solutions at Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV). Gesner, who is also a member of the Grape ESG Advisory Board, explains how infrastructure companies should be more sustainable, combining environmental and social concerns.


Gesner Oliveira talks about the challenges for the incorporation of ESG within companies – one of the greatest being creating a corporate culture of sustainability. "It is not enough that there is only a single guideline of the company that reveals some principles, concrete actions and constant improvement are necessary to achieve effectiveness in the incorporation of the ESG policy", he points out.


Read the full interview below:


Grape ESG: In the current scenario, how can infrastructure companies work to be more sustainable, in order to increase the positive environmental impact?


Gesner Oliveira: Infrastructure companies must have a clear vision of the externalities generated by their production process. This applies both to the implementation of projects with major works and interventions that affect the environment, and to the generation of infrastructure services that can generate waste that can be reused.


It is necessary, therefore, to have a materiality matrix, verifying that actions can in fact make the production process environment friendly. In addition, the environmental concern (E) must be accompanied by the social concern (S), to obtain a social license for operation, as well as an internal policy that respects work and diversity.


Grape ESG: How does the virtuous cycle of ESG work inside companies?


Gesner Oliveira: Currently, the use of ESG has two major impacts: internal and external. Internally, ESG policy produces greater employee engagement and consequently greater productivity. This, in turn, generates better results, greater investment capacity and company intervention in the market, increasing the reach of ESG policies.


Grape ESG: What are the biggest challenges and opportunities when incorporating ESG into a company? What are the perspectives for Brazil in this field in 2021?


Gesner Oliveira: One of the biggest challenges is to create a corporate culture of sustainability. It is not enough to have a single company guideline that reveals some principles. Concrete actions and constant improvement are necessary to achieve effectiveness in the incorporation of the ESG policy.


Along these lines, I believe that some companies have been adapting to the trend. The number of companies that create specific committees to review and implement the ESG policy in their business routines grows every day. This must be a decision taken by top management, but it needs to be transmitted to the organization as a whole, promoting a true cultural revolution in the Company.


Grape ESG: In your opinion, why do companies that value ESG practices have better results than those that do not consider the topic?


Gesner Oliveira: This is due to three main reasons. First, by obtaining capital from third parties at a lower cost, there is a reduction in the cost of capital. Second, this is due to the reduction of risk, especially environmental, which tends to become more important today. Third, due to the increased productivity of employees and the entire supply and distribution chain.


Grape ESG: Is joining ESG a differential in times of crisis? Like, for example, the Covid-19 pandemic?


Gesner Oliveira: The crisis requires cooperation inside and outside the Company. ESG policies essentially constitute a new vision of the Company's responsibility towards a wide range of stakeholders and not just its shareholders.


Grape ESG: Is joining ESG a differential in times of crisis? Like, for example, the Covid-19 pandemic?


Gesner Oliveira: The crisis requires cooperation inside and outside the Company. ESG policies essentially constitute a new vision of the Company's responsibility towards a wide range of stakeholders and not just its shareholders.


About Gesner Oliveira:


Professor at Fundação Getúlio Vargas in São Paulo. He obtained his Ph. D in Economics from the University of California / Berkeley, a master's degree in Economics from Unicamp and a bachelor's degree from the University of São Paulo. Partner at GO Associados, he was president of Sabesp (2007/11). He was president of Cade (1996/00). He was also Secretary of Economic Monitoring (1995) and Deputy Secretary of the Economic Policy Secretariat of the Ministry of Finance (1993/95). It carries out consultancy work for the main private and state groups in various sectors. He is an independent board member certified by the Brazilian Institute of Corporate Governance (IBGC) and a board member for several companies and entities.


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