Global Senior executive, Communication, Government Relations and sustainability


Peter Paul Van De Wijs
"In today’s world, companies and not-for-profit organisations alike have to engage with an ever widening set of stakeholders to be successful. Ignoring them brings enormous risks, while pro-actively engaging them can create huge opportunities."
Strategic thinking communication and government affairs executive with a 20-year track record of finding creative ways for global businesses and not-for-profit organisations to build and protect their reputation and reach their goals. As a senior member of the leadership team I combine communication, issues management and government affairs skills, with business acumen and a deep understanding of the demands society places on organisations today. A team player who works well in organisations and teams that place great value on long term strategic thinking and appreciate a wide range of perspectives as part of its decision making. At the same time, despite this reflective mindset, I dare to make decisions and take full ownership of them. I excel in leading teams in which members challenge each other with the aim to constantly improve the results. The experience of having lived in four countries and worked in global organisations has made delivering successful and innovative programs in culturally diverse environments second nature.


  1. Chief External Affairs Officer, GRI (Global Reporting Initiative

    Driving the adoption of the world's most wide used, independent standards for sustainability reporting through the strategic use of

    1. Government Affairs

    2. Capital Market Engagement

    3. Communications and Marketing

  2. -
    Senior Global Communications & PA Strategist, Consultant; also open for new opportunities

    Independent consultant. Key achievements include:

    • For an international sustainability consultancy guided the development of their multi-year strategy. 
    • Social Media Strategy for a contract manufacturing company.
    • Communication strategy for Oceans Program global, US based NGO.

    Also open for in-house opportunity to use my expertise at:

    • A consultancy that works strategically at the highest levels of major corporations on sustainability issues and corporate purpose challenges, or 
    • An ambitious, leading profit or not-for-profit organisation with clear social and environmental goals, or 
    • A start up company with great sustainable solutions that lacks the skill to engage and communicate with the wide range of stakeholders they need to involve to compete.
  3. -
    Member Stakeholder Engagement Task Force (hon)., Foreign Trade Association

    Foreign Trade Association has initiated this expert task force to provide guidance to its members on how to best engage with the ever growing set of stakeholders which influences their license to operate. In this honorary, uncompensated role I provide communication and stakeholder engagement expertise and experience.

  4. -
    Vice President, Communications and Engagement, LEGO Foundation

    The LEGO Foundation, a grant giving organisation (ca. USD 75 Million/year) focused on promoting the value of learning through play, based in Switzerland and Denmark. Member of the leadership team, responsible for 5 FTE’s. Key achievements include:

    • Redesigned the communications team and significantly increased the actual communications activities including doubling the media coverage and social media engagement, and initiating a long term partnership with the Huffington Post.
    • Piloted a government outreach program around the launch of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals as a way to build advocacy capacity to promote the Foundation’s agenda around ‘learning through play’. The pilot resulted in the CEO delivering a speech at the Global Clinton Initiative, meeting 15 key high level governmental stakeholders and coverage in 3 major global publications.
  5. -
    Owner, Managing Director, Van de Wijs & Partners GmbH

    Key achievements include:

    • Developed a companywide approach for identifying, assessing and managing reputational issues for McDonalds. Traditionally societal concerns related to their products, operations and behaviour were treated as PR problems. This approach ignores that changing expectations of their stakeholders also means fundamental changes to its operations and products are needed I identified and analysed the initial list of issues, designed a process to manage the business and reputational impact and trained the internal team. Based on the successful pilot, the executive team appointed an global issue management coordinator to implement the process.
    • Having reached its initial milestones, Skanska wanted to determine the possible next steps in its sustainability journey. I developed three possible scenarios, including external risk/reward analysis, which were used by the executive team to agree their own ambitions and decide on their future sustainability strategy. The selected scenario has been translated into concrete plans. 
    • In response to global pressure on fossil fuels, dropping oil prices and skyrocketing demand in the Kingdom, the management of Saudi Aramco asked Weber Shandwick London and VDWP to develop an internal leadership awareness program for their annual global leadership meeting. When Saudi Aramco decided to move into the downstream Plastics market, it realised it did not understand the societal pressures on their customers and how those translate into technical product requirements. I helped their PA team identify the top 15 issues and design a process to manage them.
  6. -
    Managing Director, Communications and Advocacy , World Business Council for Sustainable Development

    The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a CEO-led, global advocacy association of 200 companies dealing with business and sustainable development, in Geneva, Switzerland. Member of the executive team, leading a team of 7 FTEs. Key achievements:

    • When the WBCSD started in 1992 it was the only business coalition focused on sustainability. By 2010 the number of like-minded organisations had spiralled resulting in a fierce competition for membership funds and the attention of policy makers. I lead the rebranding and repositioning of the WBCSD resulting in retention of the membership at target level and maintaining the position as business partner of choice for the OECD and other key international organisations.
    • To ensure the interest of our members and business at large were well represented at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 (Rio+20), I took the lead in creating a temporary coalition of 12 international business organisations. This allowed us to present a coordinated business voice during the pre-conference negotiations and the actual conference. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called out the coalition as an example of constructive engagement from an interest group. 
    • I represented the WBCSD at international fora and media, e.g. the UN and OECD Sustainability Round Table, leading to favourable coverage of the WBCSD, our work and our members.
    • Increased the external communications with 100 percent through creating a strong media presence for the WBCSD and its members based around a media partnership with The Guardian. At the time of Rio+20 it is was, according to the Guardian, their best read partnership section. I also implemented a social media strategy reaching over 3,000 influential followers in less than 3 months.
  7. -
    Increasingly challenging international roles, The Dow Chemical Company

    The Dow Chemical Company is the third largest chemical company in the world by revenue (#48 in Fortune 500), based in the Netherlands, United States and Switzerland. Key achievements include:

    • During the merger between Dow and Union Carbide, I implemented an internal and external communication plan for the global purchasing function resulting in retention of 95% of the business critical employees, no supply disruptions from dissatisfied suppliers and a 80% satisfaction score of all affected employees.
    • Designed and implemented an innovative, stakeholder focused public reporting approach which was instrumental in Dow being named sector lead in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.
    • As a major user of water as well as a major producer of water treatment technology it was paramount that the company wide messages as well as behaviour were aligned. Chairing the Corporate Water Strategy Team I lead the internal coordination and, through a targeted communication outreach and representing Dow in external fora, helped build Dow’s reputation as responsible leader on water.
    • Chemical companies with a history of over 100 years are regularly attacked in the media and by plaintiffs about the alleged impact of their products or operations. Leading the Global Issues Management Expertise Centre, I developed a process for managing these issues and acted as a spokes person on several of them. This pro-active, transparent and collaborative approach protected Dow’s reputation but also minimised the long-term negative impact on its ability to do business.
  8. -
    Early career: account manager, consultant & writer, PLP/BBDO, Beachez PR, freelance copy writer
    • At PLP/BBDO I co-designed a new communication outreach program for Johnny Walker whiskey in the Benelux to 1. broaden the target audiences and 2. pre-empt stricter regulation. In addition to reaching the core target audience (young males, aged 18-32) it also reached professional audiences and women. The program, which cost 350,000 Dutch guilders, generated over 1.5 Million guilders in media attention.

Value   Creation samples

  • Rebranded and positioned the WBCSD
    allowing it to retain its membership and engagement and maintain its  thought LEADERSHIP position
  • Initiated a temporary global business coalition
    Enabling business to provide a coordinated voice at the UN Conference on sustainable development
  • Drove sustainability communication at Dow
    Extensive program, including new repporting approach lead to Dow being named DJSI Leader
  • Developed a global approach to identifying, assessing and managing reputational risks
    helping a global fast food and an oil company proactively address risks RELATED to societal concerns
  • Created global media partnerships
    enabled informed debate on key topics around the agendas of the WBCSD and the LEGO FOundation
  • M&A communication
    retention of 95% of business critical employees, no supply disruptions and 80% overall satisfaction
  • Innovative communication approach for whisky maker
    Broadened the audiences reached and generated 1.5 million guilders in media attention
  • Developed a set of policy options to stimulate role of business in creating a sustainable world
    Enabled a constructive dialogue with 4 countries following UN Rio+20 conference

Education Highlights

  • Risk Communication Challenge
    Harvard School of Public Health
  • Executive International Master of Corporate Communication
    1st module, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Advertising and public relations, bachelor degree
    Hogeschool eindhover, netherlands
  • Business & Sustainability Programme
    Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership - certificate 2018


  • COrp communication strategy
  • Government affairs
  • Sustainability strategy
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Branding
  • Media relations
  • Business Acumen
  • Issues management strategy
  • Public Affairs
  • social media strategy
  • Team leadership


"But we had such a good plan!"

Over the past 5 weeks I have made the case that in today’s interconnected world of well-informed individuals not engaging with stakeholders is costing companies money and can potentially even threaten their existence. In this last post of the series, I want to discuss some practical reasons why stakeholder engagement, despite all the best intentions, still often fails. These reasons can be traced back to ill-defined strategies, underestimated organisational barriers or external...


Zürich Area, Switzerland

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