Tough decision on Bulgaria’s sustainable leaders for 2023

During an official award ceremony, Global Compact Network Bulgaria recognized their local SDG Pioneer — a business leader who is championing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and inspiring others to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

This year, the world’s most prestigious sustainability awards, backed by the United Nations, separately recognise small and medium-sized enterprises as innovative leaders in sustainability, despite their limitations in resources, experience and funding.

Dimitar Tsotsorkov, Chairman of the UN Global Compact Network Bulgaria, addressed the guests at the event, “The awards for the responsible business leaders of Bulgaria are a great occasion to remember the Sustainable Development Goals that unite us and the force for good that we have when we work together to achieve them. Now is the time to celebrate our successes and – together – motivate each other to work harder for a future of stability, peace and prosperity.”

This year’s winner, Bulgaria’s SDG Pioneer 2023 is Spiros Nomikos, CEO of Solvay Sodi JSC.

As CEO of Solvay Sodi JSC, Spiros Nomikos is dedicated in his role to address carbon emissions and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. His business has an ambitious plan to move toward the reduction of fossil fuel usage and ultimately achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Mr Nomikos has spearheaded the development of strategic partnerships with the municipality and the state, and is leading a project for the efficient use of alternative fuels along with pre-treatment of hazardous waste.

“I accept this award not as a personal one, but as a recognition for the entire Solvay Sodi team, for all the colleagues with whom we work together for our One Planet. We are a team, with a shared vision and guidelines for action that embody the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” said Spiros Nomikos. “We have an ambitious plan: reducing the carbon footprint of production by 40% by 2027, ending the use of fossil fuels by 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050.” The project to convert one of Devnya’s plant boilers to run on 30% biomass, saving more than 200 kt of carbon emissions, is key to this transition. In partnership with the municipalities and the state, Solvay Sodi is also developing a project for the highly efficient use of alternative fuels from pre-treated non-hazardous waste for energy production. Its implementation will not only help solve the waste management problem in the North East of Bulgaria, but will also reduce the company’s carbon emissions by 300 kt, or 0.8% of the country’s total emissions.

Spiros Nomikos

The outstanding application in the Small and Medium Enterprises category is that of Roberto Santorelli from Kuminiano Fruit Ltd. Founded in the country in 1995, the Santorelli family company has been in the food business since 1925. Run now for three generations in the family, the company has a vertically integrated business model following a Farm to Fork strategy, and their long-standing work with local producers is an example of sustainable supply chain management. “We established our own orchard and for more than 25 years we have been encouraging the development of our suppliers by supporting them financially and technologically to create new ones,” said Roberto Santorelli. “We have gradually diversified our production to be able to provide year-round employment and maximize the utilization of the local produce and minimize waste. Today, we are fully utilizing even the pits from the fruit and the wood from the pruning to produce steam for our production processes, and by the end of this year, our own solar farm will supply over 80% of our electricity needs.”

As the winner of the Local Round, Spiros Nomikos will now compete in the Global Round along with other candidates for the title of 2023 UN Global Compact SDG Pioneers.

In the Small and Medium Enterprises category the outstanding application of Roberto Santorelli from Kuminiano Fruit Ltd goes to the Global Round directly.

The world winners are expected to be announced during the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in September 2023 in New York, USA.

“The SDG Pioneers programme recognizes the dedicated professionals that drive and innovate solutions through new technologies, initiatives and business models that can enable us to reach the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. We hope their work will inspire others to advance the Global Goals by implementing our Ten Principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.” said Sanda Ojiambo, CEO & Executive Director of the UN Global Compact.


The SDG Pioneer is one and only, but achievements in any field are impossible without the support of various parties, and when we talk about projects with a horizon of decades, it takes a reliable partner to believe in your dreams. The contest honoured Tsvetanka Mincheva, CEO of UniCredit Bulbank, with a special recognition for “Financing Sustainable Development” for the bank’s consistent efforts in finding “Solutions for the Future” and the specialized program “ESG Academy” jointly developed with Sofia University.

There are fields of activity that are linked to the lives of our whole society; they are changing right before our eyes and with that, our habits as a society are also changing. Peter Ruben and KBC Group Bulgaria were honoured with a special recognition for “Sustainable Banking” by Ms. Christina de Bruin, representative of UNICEF in Bulgaria. Desislava Simeonova, ESG Director of the Group said, “There is no competition on the path of sustainable development – we all work together, as one team, for one future”.

Prof. Dr. Dimitrov, Rector of the University of National and World Economy, honoured Ivan Chernev, CEO of Kaufland Bulgaria, with a special recognition for “Responsible Trade”, acknowledging the company’s efforts to put sustainable development at the heart of its business strategy and the consistent work on various projects for its implementation.

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The applications for the awards were evaluated according to a regulation set by the Global Compact and the ranking was decided by the expert jury:

  • Dimitar Tsotsorkov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Network and of the jury
  • Ognian Trajanov, Founder and CEO of TechnoLogica AD
  • Christina De Bruin, UNICEF Representative for Bulgaria
  • Ivanka Shalapatova, Minister of Labour and Social Policy
  • Elitsa Barakova, BCause Foundation
  • Prof. Dimitar Dimitrov, University of National and World Economy

A special gift for the attendees was the conversation held by Donika Rizova, the host of the event, with the futurologist Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mariana Todorova and the entrepreneur Hristo Hristov, about the pioneers and the trailblazers, about today’s leaders and their role in an increasingly unpredictable “tomorrow”, when a global pandemic is followed by an armed handover of the geopolitical maps, while a freely available artificial intelligence writes a fifth grader’s history essay.

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The second annual Sustainability Awards once again highlighted the important principles that unite the UN Global Compact and the Bulgarian network. Together, they celebrated the inspiring actions of individuals from leading companies – a recognition that everyone’s efforts matter, and when backed by the power of business, they can change both the present and the future.

The media partners of the contest are BNR, B2B Media, BGlobal, ESG News.bg, Enterprise, Investor.bg.



Nadya Sinigerska-Bohorova

About the UN Global Compact Network Bulgaria

The UN Global Compact Network Bulgaria is part of the Global Network and was officially proclaimed in 2011 by UN Secretary-General H.E. Ban Ki-moon. Bringing together companies, NGOs and educational institutions, the Bulgarian Network is the most active organization in the country in the field of sustainable development. With its recognizable collective social projects, the Bulgarian Network shows that responsible business is a force for good.

About the UN Global Compact

The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative and has over 22,000 members. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s voluntary initiative brings together business and NGOs, academic institutions, cities and UN agencies in a global forum to support sustainable growth and civic responsibility. The UN Global Compact’s Ten principles focus on implementing responsible business practices in the areas of human rights, labour standards, environmental protection and anti-corruption.