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Daniela Knieling

Company/NGO Name:


Region, Country:


1. What is the mission of your company/NGO?

respACT has over 300 member companies of different sizes. With their modern understanding of corporate responsibility our members are economically successful. We provide them with information and knowhow, connect them to experts, political institutions and to each other, and promote sustainable business at various levels. respACT supports companies in taking on responsibility in a non-bureaucratic and concrete manner and thus to master the great social, ecological and economical challenges of our time.


2. What is the most innovative or environmentally/socially impactful project/practice your company/NGO has implemented?

As Austria’s leading platform for sustainable business, respACT can look back on more than 20 years of responsible action and many successfully implemented projects. In 2016, for example, we launched the “respACT-Vision for Sustainable Business”. It provides our members with some sort of guideline and defines a common goal for our network.


3. How have those projects positively impacted the local community and/ or your country?

Another project, the Austrian CSR-Day, for example, was initiated by respACT in 2005 and is today known as initiator, catalyst and annual highlight in Austria’s scene around responsible business and CSR. The contents are based on global trends and challenges, presented by international keynote speakers, discussion panels and workshops. Last year we focused on the innovative potential of the Sustainable Development Goals, showing entrepreneurs not only how to support the SDGs but how to connect them to their business practice.


4. Please share any new projects you will be implementing in the near future.

Some of our projects such as the above mentioned CSR-Day as well as TRIGOS – The Award for Sustainable Business, ASRA – Austrian Sustainability Reporting Award, regional events, working groups or webinars we offer annually. On top respACT is engaged in long-term funded projects such as circle17 which brings together start-ups with established business in order to support the achievement of the global goals.


5. What are your top 3 career accomplishments?

Over the years I have learned how important it is to stay with yourself and have developed some stamina. But I see my choice of partner as my greatest achievement. Without the support of my partner in the household and childcare my career would not have been possible this way. It is important to have someone who goes with you on this journey.


6. What inspired you to choose your career path?

My path with respACT has been quite long, and I have been managing the association as its director for about 10 years. I like to work on internationally relevant topics, but from Austria and with a manageable number of business trips. But it is not only the topics themselves that inspire me. It is a pleasure to work on them together with our great board and team and in cooperation with various stakeholders. In the time before that, I was active in stakeholder management, PR, and crisis communication – always in the area of social responsibility.


7. Personally—Why do you care about sustainability? What is your story?

It starts with mobility. I use public transport, avoid air travel as much as possible and make sure my personal footprint is low. With my family, I live in a low-energy house in the country. I have been a vegetarian for 30 years and I am happy when taking a walk in the woods, on the riverside or in the vineyards outside my front door.


8. What is/are the biggest incentive(s) for businesses in your country to adopt sustainable practices?

Responsible companies reflect their corporate purpose and its impact on society and the environment. They actively set new standards for responsible business practices and become drivers of sustainable development. This in turn results in innovative opportunities, new markets and increasing competitiveness.


9. What is/are the biggest environmental or social challenge(s) facing your country today?
In addition to climate change, loss of biodiversity, intensive land use and loss of soil, social integration and gender equality are big challenges. Fact is, that they are all too big to deal with alone. That’s why networks like respACT are needed.


10. What is the most positive action your country has taken to positively impact its environment or social well-being?
People in Austria get critical of their consumption behavior. respACT believes in the power of the SDGs and pushes them in all possible directions. So far our new government has committed itself to the SDGs and key concerns such as the climate crisis have found their way in the new government program. Now words must be followed by deeds. Sustainable and successful business requires concrete framework conditions.


11. What are your thoughts on climate change? What is your company/organization doing to help bring awareness or to help mitigate climate change?
Climate change is a very important issue to respACT. Although we are facing a crisis we try to see it as an opportunity. Austrian companies could develop and offer solutions that are required worldwide and become innovation leaders. Some solutions even already exist but need to be supported and spread. respACT both communicates good practice examples from within its members to the public and brings international benchmarks to its members.


12. What are the biggest challenges you have faced when pursuing or trying to promote sustainable practices/projects?
Since the foundation of respACT, we have created awareness for problem solving among our members and partners. However, despite close cooperation, we are also dependent on measures and regulations being taken at the political level and national sustainability laws being fixed.


13. How dedicated are your nation’s businesses to corporate social responsibility? List some practices you think would be helpful.
respACT unites over 300 Austrian companies of all sizes and industries. Every one of them plays a part in making our economy and society more sustainable. I kindly invite the readers to have look on our topics and member list. Also feel free to get in touch with us. As mentioned above today’s challenges are too big to deal with alone.

Keep up with Daniela Knieling and respACT on social media:

Website: https://www.respact.at

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/respact.at/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/respact-at/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/respACT_at