Our Team and our Vision
Vision and Mission
Our vision is a world in which each company understand themselves as part of a whole and evaluate their success by means of their added value for the global planet. Until now, our mission is to bring together sustainable acting companies with enlightened and critical consumers and to promote the discourse on a new economical paradigm.
Through our commitment we pursue our vision on different levels. We cope with the balancing act between a solid understanding of sustainability and the mechanism of a free market economy.
With the CSE standard we offer an unique, uniform criterion for corporate sustainability. We want to demonstrate that it is possible nowadays to practice sustainable management and make that verifiable and transparent. We do help companies as well as consumers to find sustainable alternatives.
In several working groups and networking meetings we discuss actual developments and insights and consider possibilities to bail further sustainability potentials. We participate in making the transfer from theory to practice measurable and transparent. Through our certifications for products and companies we commit ourselves against greenwashing and in favour of transparency on quality labels. We engage in related political discussions and introduce our know-how on different levels.
Founder and Managing Director
SOPHIE v. LILIENFELD-TOAL - Graduate Engineer in Agriculture
"I’m passionate about those people that take unconventional, courageous, even revolutionary paths and in doing so cooperate in process for a granchildren´s future ability."
In the course of my voluntary social year in a rural living community in Canada I developed my love for the land cultivation and discovered the healing force of working in and with nature. Convinced that man needs to relearn how to deal with natural resources I engaged in a training as a farmer and subsequently successfully completed the study of organic agricultural sciences. Throughout this process I was constantly troubled by the question how the interface connection between Man – Nature - Economy could be designed. I was not able to find answers to this question through my studies. In the meantime I know that they simply were not there.
The work within a certification body for organic foodstuff showed me that the bureaucratization of the organic movement was a meaningful conclusion to secure the position of the real organic farmers in the market and subsequently this form of land cultivation. In any case, various areas which we can find now in sustainability discourses have been lost in the process.
When I was offered the possibility to create a sustainability standard, I saw a chance to bring together many aspects of the original movement with a securisation in the market – and moreover, to find answers to my questions. The founding of the GfaW, the development of the CSE criteria and the product certifications which were missing in the ecological market are to me a consistent, autonomous way to design the interface connection Man – Nature – Economy.
Any company, each institution and all private households are led by people. People who take decisions on a daily basis that have consequences. I’m passionate about those people that take unconventional, courageous, even revolutionary paths and in doing so cooperate in process for a granchildren´s future ability.
PROF. DR. HERMANN v. LILIENFELD-TOAL - Medical doctor
My professional career is one of a medical doctor. Science, day-to-day hospital routine and medical-technical projects have up to the founding of GfaW formed my professional life. A had realised a lot in my life: I was chief physician in an hospital, I was able to pass on my knowledge as an instructor to young doctors, and realize myself as an entrepreneur in medical technology and as an official in self-help projects. And even when I had everything, there was a voice rumbling inside: at what cost does all this prosperity around me come to life? How can we have an overview of the negative aspects of our consumer society, and the final question: how can I personally contribute to a change?
After I had closed down most of my extra-professional tasks I was left with sufficient drive to engage in the GfaW. Yes, we can do something. But it takes courage and consistence to confront oneself with these questions and think them till the end. With the approach of the CSE standard we take up where consumption options are created: in the companies.
Through my cooperation I was already able to answer some of my questions and experience practical examples of sustainability first-hand. I am delighted and proud to be able to evolve in such an innovative and ambitious project.
"It takes courage and consistence to confront oneself with these questions and think them till the end. "
Business consulting and product development
NIELS CHRISTIANSEN - Sustainability & Quality Management (M.A.)
"We are all entitled to change something in life. It takes courage to do it."
Already during my studies, I was concerned with the question of how sustainable economic models could look like. As so often, it is difficult to find a clear and unambiguous answer to such a question. However, at the same time it is clear that a "business as usual" can not continue forever. We need an alternative structure for economy and society. However, this will not happen in just one day. But we can support and, above all, accelerate this process.
For this we need the courage of every single person and every single organization! The courage to adopt other ways, try new things out, and to make decisions that lead to a positive change - be it at your own home or in organizations and companies.
If I look at products that represent the CSE label, I see companies that have the courage to take revolutionary approaches. Companies that consistently improve their environmental and social impact.
In this context, I see the CSE label as an excellent tool to make the courage of companies visible and public. As an expert in systemic management, I support GfaW (freelancer) in helping companies to move toward the CSE-certification.
Marketing and Public Relation
PAULINA OERTER - Sustainability Economics and Management (M.A.)
After finishing my studies at the European Business and Language School I went to India to work for an NGO. Already during my bachelor I was plagued by doubts regarding the economical dynamics and business practices in our economical system.
In India I was confronted with the dimensions of our wealth: my organisation dealt with indigenous tribes which were expelled from their habitat because of the mining industry. Ruthless pollution of rivers, human tragedies and starvation wages were the order of the day – modern slavery under the guise of economical progress.
As I considered so-called developmental work merely as fighting symptoms, it happened that I applied for a study Sustainable Economics and Management – I wanted to know more about the “set screws” economy, enterprise and management. During the study I learned to know several aspects of and entries to sustainability and specialised in marketing and entrepreneurship.
Enterprises are powerful draught horses for a future capable planet and a fair together. Each company has a proper personality and I’m delighted, especially through the CSE label, to support the powerful and revolutionary characters. Moreover, it is my aim to sharpen the consciousness of the consumer for sustainability issues and increase the prominence of our certifications
"Enterprises are powerful draught horses for a future capable planet and a fair together."
Editing and public relations
MARTIN HENKEMEIER - Journalist
"Here are idealists engaging themselves unselfishly and comprehensively for the – in my view – most important aim of our time, for sustainability."
"No, as a partisan of political activism and the NGO’s I don’t spend my energy in a conventional enterprise, in other words: down the throat of capitalism." With this statement in mind I learned to know the GafW – and I had to revise my judgement: here are idealists engaging themselves unselfishly and comprehensively for the – in my view – most important aim of our time, for sustainability. The business form is a result of practical considerations, totally at the service of the cause. The small, sympathetic team lives what it preaches. Conclusion: with my training as editor, my high standard for journalistic and societal ethics I am at a delightful place in the public relations of GafW.