Brewing a Better World at the Heineken AGM

view from the audience at the Heineken AGM

In April 2024, I represented the De Vereniging van Beleggers voor Duurzame Ontwikkeling (VBDO) – the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development. VBDO volunteers ask questions about sustainability topics at Annual General Meetings (AGM) at Dutch stock-listed companies. To drive better governance and decisions on these and other sustainability topics. Here’s my reflection on the Heineken AGM.

As with many AGMs, the first part of the meeting was focused on Heineken’s multi-year strategy to create long-term, sustainable value in a fast-changing world and grow stronger. And on the results achieved and challenges faced in 2023.

Several people asked questions about the strategy and results. Denise Reike and I asked questions about biodiversity, living wage, and lobbying (VBDO’s focus topics this AGM season). The answers were elaborate and extremely well-prepared. Not everything we hoped for, yet some commitments for greater transparency on these topics. And there was room for spontaneous engagement as well. After the AGM closed, CEO Dolf van den Brink and CFO Harold van den Broek thanked us for our questions (and the way we asked them).

As happens in lots of places with microphones, many questions were statements. Some were quite hilarious; some were just time-consuming. And as expected with a beverage company, Heineken drinks were served at the ‘borrel’ after the AGM. Nice to catch up and meet people there, like Jan-Willem Vosmeer, Sonia Thimmiah, Charlotte Kwist, and Jose Federico Castillo.

I look forward to working with the VBDO team to monitor Heineken’s next steps. And to join the 2024 AGM for follow-up questions.

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