Sabancı Holding CEO Cenk Alper Speaks at Davos: “A New Cooperative Culture That Looks Beyond Competition, The Key To Sustainable Development


Every year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) brings together global economy stakeholders from various fields in Davos, Switzerland. This year’s theme was “Cooperation in a Fragmented World.” At the meetings, almost 3,000 participants from public and private sectors, civil society, and academia discuss global problems and potential solutions while underlining the importance of action-oriented global cooperation.

Representing the Turkish business world in Davos along with other prominent names, Sabancı Holding CEO Cenk Alper participated as a speaker in a private session on the sustainable mobility future on the second day of the annual meeting. Then, at the public session on “Bringing Circularity to Life,” he discussed how can circularity adoption in operating and business models be accelerated as well as the projects and practices launched by Sabancı Group to this end.


Noting that the circular economy holds a vital potential to solve major global crises, including the climate emergency, the loss of biodiversity, and social inequality, Cenk Alper said: “The added values of advancing circular economy practices extend beyond the environment. Today, the consequences of global energy and raw material crises are crystal clear. Advancing circular economy practices, which go hand in hand with renewable energy, will act as a robust shield against global crises. In addition to their contributions to sustainable development goals, these will also prompt new growth and employment opportunities for companies.”

Underlining that the teachings of the linear economy should be disregarded in the new world order, Alper added: “We must reconsider, together, how to create more value through circular economy practices. We must review our business processes, starting with our supply chains. Currently, the circular economy is often perceived synonymously with recycling. If we want to change that perception, we must increase circularity examples in all industries.”

Cenk Alper affirmed that sustainability is integral to the Sabancı Group’s Purpose and continued: “At Sabancı Group, we believe that sustainability is more an opportunity than a risk — an opportunity to create more value. Sustaining the current economic growth pattern is no longer a possibility in the modern world. We consider it essential to integrate into our mindset, way of business, and future strategies a circular economy model based on ‘reducing, reusing and recycling’ rather than ‘buying, using and discarding’ for the benefit of our world and humanity. We consider ourselves not only a follower but also a developer of disruptive innovative processes. This approach fuels our global growth strategy in line with our vision ‘Sabancı of the World.’ Therefore, we will be directing 75 percent of our investments in the upcoming five years toward energy and climate technologies, advanced material technologies, and digital technologies, collectively referred to as the new economy.”


Cenk Alper highlighted that they have adopted leading circularity practices in numerous Group companies, including Kordsa, Brisa, Temsa, and Teknosa, and added: “To secure a sustainable future, we should spread the impact of these practices in the entire ecosystem and cultivate a new cooperative culture. The adhesive technology developed by Kordsa in cooperation with Continental is a symbolic project that represents this culture. Our open innovation approach brought together our R&D teams with Continental, one of our global competitors in the tire business, to create a more innovative and more environmentally friendly alternative to the century-old formula. We are currently one of the four companies, along with Continental and our two other business partners, in the patent pool of Cokoon. Each of us contributes to the pool with our unique know-how to continuously advance our studies. Today, almost 70 companies in the industry are closely interested in this technology. Our joint efforts helped set a new market standard for sustainability. This project is a perfect example of our impact and value surpassing the scope of our operations. At Sabancı Group, we are proud to lead a new cooperative culture, which values intercompany cooperation for a higher purpose, taking a social-benefit perspective to competition, sharing innovation with all stakeholders instead of hoarding, and prioritizing ‘the interest of the ecosystem’ over the ‘interest of the company’.”


Cenk Alper also reiterated that it is our minds that limit circularity, saying: “Acting as if resources are infinite and as though they would never deplete is our worst offense to our world. Countries and communities that believe in the scarcity of resources have already boosted their circularity. Because reusing, recycling, and repurposing are not a preference but an obligation in these countries. The greatest responsibility of social stakeholders at this point is to shape all design stages in different fields with ‘limited resources’ in mind and to set circularity as a standard in the way of doing business.”