Navigating Business Challenges: BfP's Chair's thought leadership piece in ITC's 2023 Outlook

We are pleased to share that Per Saxegaard, Executive Chair of the Business for Peace Foundation, has contributed a thought leadership piece to the International Trade Centre’s SME Competitiveness Outlook 2023: Small Businesses in Fragility:
From Survival to Growth

This report, focusing on the impact of conflict and fragility on business performance, introduces a Fragility Exposure Index. It suggests that businesses can reduce the impact of fragility by 25% through reinforcing competitiveness, such as engaging with business support organisations and improving financial management.

Mr. Saxegaard’s thought leadership piece aligns with our Foundation’s ethos, advocating for responsible and ethical business practices. His insights add depth to the report’s findings on enhancing business resilience and sustainability in challenging environments.

This contribution is part of a wider effort by various experts and leaders to illuminate critical issues facing small and medium-sized enterprises globally. The SME Competitiveness Outlook 2023 provides an in-depth analysis and is a key resource for understanding the complex dynamics of the current business world.

The other contributing experts include 2014 Oslo Business for Peace Award Honouree Ouided Bouchamaoui, Assistant Secretary-General and CEO of the United Nations Global Compact Sanda Ojiambo and Gilles Carbonnier, Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

To read Mr Saxegaard’s thought leadership piece and to access the full report, please visit the International Trade Centre’s website.

Per Saxegaard's thought leadership piece can be found on page 39 of the report, alongside other distinguished global leaders.

In Memoriam: Merrill J. Fernando, Oslo Business for Peace Honouree

It is with profound sorrow that we remember and celebrate the life of Merrill Joseph Fernando (1930-2023), a visionary entrepreneur, and a stalwart advocate for ethical business practices and peace. Mr. Fernando’s legacy is deeply intertwined with the ethos of the Business for Peace Foundation, and his contributions have left an indelible mark on the global business community.

Merrill J. Fernando receiving the 2015 Oslo Business for Peace Award by Business for Peace Foundation's Chair Per L. Saxegaard. Photo: Carl Christian Raabe
In 1985, Mr. Merrill J. Fernando embarked on a transformative journey to bring the finest Ceylon tea to the world through his visionary venture, Dilmah. His dedication to excellence, authenticity, and sustainability not only elevated the tea industry but also set a precedent for ethical entrepreneurship. Beyond the realm of commerce, Mr. Fernando believed in business as a conduit for positive change. His commitment to fair trade, direct sourcing, and sustainable practices set the stage for the integration of responsible business practices long before they gained widespread recognition.
Mr. Fernando’s legacy extended to matters close to his heart through the establishment of the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation. Through this foundation, he championed education, healthcare, and social empowerment initiatives in Sri Lanka, underscoring his conviction that business success should be intertwined with societal betterment.
Recipient of the 2015 Oslo Business for Peace Award, Mr. Merrill J. Fernando’s alignment with the Foundation’s principles was truly exemplary. His steadfast dedication to ethical conduct and peace in business resonated deeply with our mission. Business for Peace Chair Per L. Saxegaard remembers Mr. Fernando fondly. “When Merrill received the Award in the Oslo City Hall on his 85th birthday, in 2015, the audience of close to 1000 people all rose instinctively and sang the birthday song to honor him. It was a beautiful moment. I believe that Merrill J. Fernando’s success was not just because he developed the correct recipe in business. In contrast to the usual faceless corporations; behind Dilmah, there was Mr. Fernando. His warmth, personality, and passion will remain signatures of the Dilmah culture forever. It could be seen so well reflected in his sons, Dilhan and Malik, to whom we extend our deepest condolences. What a great and inspiring human being he was!
We confer our deepest gratitude to Mr. Merrill J. Fernando for his invaluable contributions to the cause of ethical business practices and peace. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and loved ones during this difficult time. As we bid farewell to a luminary whose life exemplified the union of ethical business and societal impact, we carry forward his legacy. Let us continue to honor Mr. Merrill J. Fernando’s memory by emulating his dedication to ethical entrepreneurship, responsible leadership, and the belief that business can be a catalyst for positive change. Through our actions, we pay homage to a life well-lived and a legacy that will inspire generations to come.
For more, visit the heartfelt memoriam section on the Dilmah website.
In Memoriam: Merrill J. Fernando, 1930-2023. Recipient of the 2015 Oslo Business for Peace Award.

Introducing the UN Business Arena

15 June 2023

Business for Peace Foundation is proud to introduce the UN Business Arena, a groundbreaking platform launching in 2024 that harnesses the power of collaboration to drive positive change and create a more inclusive and sustainable future. With a steadfast commitment to advancing #businessworthy leadership, the UN Business Arena empowers business leaders to become catalysts for societal transformation.

Some of the 75 invited participants at the first ever high-level meeting of the UN Business Arena. Oslo, June 5, 2023.

At the Business for Peace Foundation, we believe that businesses have a crucial role to play in shaping a better world, and that this can be done better than it is currently done today. That’s why we established the UN Business Arena along with our Oslo Business for Peace Award nomination partners UNDP, ICC, UNGC and PRI. The UN Business Arena is an unprecedented initiative designed to bring together public and private actors from around the globe. By fostering a new form of multilateralism, the UN Business Arena leverages collective efforts to drive the Global Agenda and tackle pressing challenges across sectors and regions in low-, middle- and high-income countries.

On June 5th, we convened a high-level meeting of the UN Business Arena in Norway. Esteemed leaders from diverse backgrounds convened in Oslo to ignite collaborative action and define the thematic focus for the forthcoming flagship event in 2024, where the next Oslo Business for Peace Award Ceremony will be one of the key events. This landmark gathering emphasised the indispensable role of the private sector in effecting positive change and underscored the transformative potential of partnerships between businesses, governments, and civil society.

The UN Business Arena is driven by a collective ambition to accelerate the leadership of businesses that embody the values of responsibility and contribute to positive change on a global scale. By providing a unique platform for knowledge-sharing, dialogue, and collaboration, we enable business leaders to forge innovative solutions that address the world’s most pressing challenges. From sustainable energy solutions to responsible investment practices, food system transformation, and fostering peace through dialogue, the UN Business Arena strives to unleash the full potential of responsible business practices worldwide.

We extend our deepest appreciation to our highly appreciated partners who have played a pivotal role in shaping and supporting the UN Business Arena. Our heartfelt thanks go to the International Chamber of Commerce, Principles for Responsible Investment, United Nations Development Programme, and United Nations Global Compact for their unwavering commitment to collaborative action and their shared vision of a more responsible and sustainable future. A huge thanks also goes out to our esteemed Oslo Business for Peace Award Honourees Connie Hasemann, Dr Agbor Ashumanyi Ako, Dr Harley Seyedin, Felicitas “Joji” Pantoja, Dr Vladas Lašas and Tore Lærdal who came to Norway to support. 

We invite you to join us in our mission to create a more inclusive and sustainable world through the UN Business Arena. Feel free to get in touch, and stay tuned for updates on UN Business Arena’s LinkedIn page as we continue to chart our transformative journey, catalysing impactful initiatives and driving collective action towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Together, we can harness the power of business to shape a brighter future for generations to come.

A Holiday Message from Business for Peace

23 December 2022

Dear friend,

If you told me a year ago I would be writing these words in the midst of a full-scale territorial war on European soil, I would not have believed you. Yet, here we are at the end of 2022, a year that one could easily be forgiven for labelling an annus horribilis. This rings particularly true when the glaring violations on Ukraine’s sovereignty is coupled with the subsequent soaring prices on basic necessities, rising interest rates, and a lingering COVID-19 situation. We live in unprecedented times.

In addition to this, the climate change threat is more severe than ever, there are deep-seated trust issues, and broken supply chains between the global north and the global south. And the 

Happy Holidays from Business for Peace

lead-up to the Football World Cup in Qatar showed us that tens of millions of migrant workers worldwide are stuck in a precarious position, with grave human rights violations being committed.

Yet, all is far from hopeless. On December 19th, the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Canada adopted the Global Biodiversity Framework, which aims to protect 30% of Earth’s lands, oceans, coastal areas, inland waters; Reduce by $500 billion annual harmful government subsidies; Cut food waste by 2030. The need to “foster the full and effective contributions of […] the private and financial sectors” are deemed critical throughout the framework’s four goals and 23 targets.

I am also relieved to see an ever-increasing focus on the global challenges at hand. New technology and a genuine willingness to build back better offer unimaginable opportunities for better lives and green growth. Now, more than ever before, the private sector has to be a fundamental part of global development, global solutions and global wealth distribution.

Private companies are rising to the challenge in record numbers. And, like the global network of Oslo Business for Peace Award Honourees, a growing amount of businessworthy leaders work tirelessly every day, all over the planet, to conduct business that does good, provide innovative solutions to global challenges, and which also inspires other business leaders to act businessworthy.

As 2022 draws to a close, I and everyone at Business for Peace are filled with renewed optimism and motivation to help re-imagine capitalism and make all businesses a force for good. After years of work, 2023 will see an immense opportunity come to fruition, where we together with our partners will lay the groundwork for a new form for multilateralism and transformative partnership as set out by the UN Secretary-General, to help build future systems of collaboration between business and society.

I hope you and your loved ones will have a peaceful holiday season. For all those that are not so fortunate; I promise that we will work tirelessly for a better tomorrow.

Warm wishes,

Marius Døcker

Managing Director

#Future of Talks: The Future of Consumerism

 Friday, 22 October 2021 09:27

As holidays such as Black Friday and Christmas mark the peak of over-consumption throughout the year, it is difficult to remain a conscious consumer. Sustainable Consumption and Production (SDG 12) in the 2030 Agenda is about doing more and better with less. It is also about decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation, increasing resource efficiency and promoting sustainable lifestyles thereby giving nature the opportunity to regenerate.

To break the cycle of over-consumption within the linear economy, a circular approach is needed. This would entail fixing products, prolonging their life-span, and avoiding waste at all costs, making it the way forward for a healthy planet with healthy humans.

How can companies tackle the negative impacts of consumerism while running a successful business model? How can supply chains become more sustainable and transparent for consumers to trace the products they are acquiring? And what does the future of consumerism look like?

In this panel we will bring together professionals from different fields to explore these and other key questions to understand in what ways we can all become conscious consumers and what businesses are doing to clear the path.


Fredrik Nordbø (moderator), Senior Policy Advisor, WWF

Heidi Furustøl, Executive Director, Ethical Trade Norway

Jo Egil Tobiassen, CEO, Northern Playground

Aasa Andersen, Managing Director, A-Packaging

Photo: Marteline Nystad


Sign up now and join us on Tuesday 30th November. The event is in English and free to attend in-person or online.

17:30 – 18:00  Doors open, come mingle and get settled

18:00 – 19:15  Talk and discussion

19:15 – late  Stick around and continue the conversation

Location: Mesh Youngstorget, the newest HUB from Mesh.


This event will be hosted at Mesh Youngstorget, the newest HUB from Mesh. Stick around after the event to explore the new venue and enjoy the Workbar!

The Workbar is the heart of Mesh HUBs, connecting members with each other, the greater community and the public. A place for you to meet, work, connect, be inspired, eat and drink.

Please note that having a ticket does not guarantee a seat at the main seating area. Doors open at 17:30, please arrive on time to secure your seat!

#Future of Talks: The Future of the Nordic Model

 Tuesday, 7 September 2021 09:41

The Nordics are leading innovation and spearheading the work towards the 2030 Agenda. It is argued that the Nordic Model offers an environment where value-driven innovation can flourish, meaning innovation that improves society by creating value for all stakeholders in an ethical and responsible way.

If innovation is the future, what does innovation look like “the Nordic Model way”? There are other models of innovation such as the Silicon Valley one, which worldwide entrepreneurs and policymakers alike have aspired to recreate as the perfect ecosystem for innovation. But Silicon Valley is no longer the only global paradigm for innovation. The Nordic Model offers a unique environment for socially responsible innovation that looks beyond narrow financial return.

In this panel we will bring together professionals from different fields to understand the connection between the Nordic Model and innovation, and what its future looks like.



16:30-17:00 Doors open, come mingle and get settled

17:00-18:00 Talk and discussion

18:00-late Stick around and continue the conversation


This event will be hosted at Mesh Youngstorget, the newest HUB from Mesh. Stick around after the event to explore the new venue and enjoy the Workbar. The Workbar is the heart of Mesh HUBs, connecting members with each other, the greater community and the public. A place for you to meet, work, connect, be inspired, eat and drink.

Having a ticket does not guarantee a seat at the main seating area. Due to covid regulations we might need to restrict the amount of attendees on the day of the event. Doors open at 16:30, please arrive on time to secure your seat.

This event will kick-start our 2021-2022 edition of the #FutureOf talk series presented by Business for Peace and MESH. The event is part of the Oslo Innovation Week 2021 – you can view the complete OIW programme here.