As anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, people and businesses alike are focusing on becoming more responsible. The defining factors of responsible businesses include environmental, economic and social progress and equity — but only a few individuals actually champion this change. Despite a multitude of external pressures and demands, a growing group people are stepping up to the challenge by crafting affordable and scalable solutions that promote cleaner, more resilient economies.

To find the 20 most responsible leaders in northern Europe, we cast the net beyond the Nordics to include the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia.

Criteria and Results

The essential criteria for evaluating candidates included: their drive towards social and environmental responsibility, the scope of their work, the result of their efforts, and their influence over consumer behavior. Additional considerations included the future potential and financial viability of their ideas. To help guide the jury in the selection process, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were used to qualify the impact of candidates’ work.

Candidates were submitted by nine countries, based on national jury panels. From dozens of applicants, the final Top 20 list includes entrepreneurs, business leaders, and activists that have made outstanding contributions to society.

The world is going through a paradigm shift; sustainability used to be an afterthought, but it’s becoming an indicator of successful societies. The final selection in the Top 20 hopes to reflect those individuals leading the charge and creating responsible best practices for others to follow. The challenge for the selection committee was analyzing the qualitative nature of responsibility; no two actions are comparable, so the whole picture needs to be taken into account.

Danish food waste activist Selina Juul came in at number one, owing to her simple yet effective methods that have been turned into government-driven laws for sustainability. Further down the list, investment titans Johan Henrik Andresen (#6) and Yuri Milner (#9), and energy influencers Mika Anttonen (#7) and Hörður Arnarson (#15), have made the list for their results-driven work ethic, and their progressive views on alternative energy.



Sirpa Juutinen, Partner, Sustainability & Climate Change, PwC
Annu Nieminen, Member of the board, Kasvuryhmä
Tuuli Mäkelä, Senior Adviser, Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK)
Kati Malmelin, Director, Corporate Relations, WWF Finland


Analisa Winther, Director of Entrepreneurship and Community SingularityU Denmark
Rune Gottlieb Skovgaard, Chief Advisor
Birgitte Mogensen, CEO, Board Management
Kaisa Tikk, Global Sustainability Advisor, Maersk Transport & Logistics


Helga Valfells, Managing Director, NSA Ventures
Brynjólfur Borgar Jónsson, Founder, Data Lab Iceland
Þórey Vilhjálmsdóttir, Associate Partner, Capacent


Kristiina Esop, CEO, Responsible Business Forum Estonia
Piret Reinson, Head of Marketing, Enterprise Estonia
Kerttu Kongas, Editor in Chief, Director magazine
Peeter Tars, National President, JCI Estonia
Heidi Kakko, Managing Director, Estonian Business Angels Network


Agnese Alksne, Chairwoman of the Board, CSR Latvia
Andris Ozols, Director Investment and Development, Agency of Latvia
Auseklis Sarkans, National President, JCI Latvia


Gytis Morkūnas, Director of Entrepreneurship Department Enterprise Lithuania
Eugenija Grižibauskienė, Editor of Econonomic Department Lietuvos Rytas
Edita Smindriunaite, National President JCI Lithuania
Vaiva Brazionyte, Senior Business Consultant UAB “Ekonomines konsultacijos ir tyrimai”
Audrone Alijosiute, CEO Responsible Bussiness Association of Lithuania, LAVA


Katharina Paoli, Chairwoman A Win Win World
Niclas Carlsson, Founder & CEO Founders Alliance
Marianne Bogle, Managing Director, CSR SWEDEN
Louise von Rosen, Verksamhetskoordinator Young Entrepreneurs of Sweden


Ole Øvretveit, General Manager, The Arctic Frontiers secretariat
Inger Solberg, Director of Sustainability Norway Innovation Norway
Kristin Grøntoft, Communications Director IF


Elena Feoktistova, Deputy Head of the Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility and Demographic Policies;
Managing Director for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable Development, Russian Union of Industrialists and Enterpreneurs
Maria Rudakova, Director of Research and Analytics Department Association of Managers
Irina Mitrofanova, Director RBC Publishing House
Anna Chetvergova, Producer Live. Group