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Ernst Ligteringen

​Chief Executive of GRI 2002–2014
Online memorial tribute
​It is with great sadness that we said farewell to Ernst Ligteringen, who passed away on 15 June 2017. Further down on this page you can read the memories and tributes to Ernst shared by the many whose lives he touched.
 
Ernst led GRI for 12 years, transforming it from a start-up initiative into a globally respected and self-sufficient organization. Under his leadership, GRI established itself as the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting standard-setter. Mere months before his untimely death, Ernst agreed to be filmed and give his thoughts on what GRI has accomplished over the past two decades and what he hoped for the future. 
View this video here:
 



We thank everyone who contributed to this online memorial tribute for sharing their memories and messages.
 
If you would still like to share a memory of Ernst or leave a message for his friends and family, please email your contribution to condolences@globalreporting.org. We will post new tributes at regular intervals.
The messages are listed below in the order received.

 
 
"I remember Ernst , as a softly-spoken intellectual, a tirelessly dedicated networker, an open-minded yet decisive leader, a generous uncle/brother-figure, and exactly the right chief executive for GRI at exactly the right time. He never stopped thinking of new partners and collaborators, new avenues of influence, new ways to be effective in achieving the mission he understood so well. I miss him already. His impact will last for many years to come. RIP."
Judy Kuszewski
Chief Executive, Sancroft International
Chair of the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB)
 
 
"One thing that immediately springs to mind is when our cleaning contractor [at GRI] sent 2 new cleaning ladies I found a post-it note on Ernst his desk with their names written on it. He wanted to learn their names, greet them by name and let them know they are part of the organisation. Things like this made me really appreciate Ernst."
Marja van der Most
GRI colleague
 

"It is with great sorrow that I would like to express my deepest condolences for the loss of a great professional such as Mr. Ligteringen. To all his family, friends and GRI. His vast experience let companies from all around the world to commit towards a sustainability strategy and reporting standards. He succeed in leaving a mark on all those who have learned a little through his great experience and professionalism. Terrible lost."
Pierina Amayo
Head of Communications and Sustainability,
Human Resources Management, CFG Investment
 
 
 
"It is with great sadness that I have learned of the passing of Ernst, great mentor and friend. I first met Ernst in 2002, when I volunteered to do a consulting project, pro-bono, for GRI. Ernst’s ability to describe the GRI’s mission and what sustainability reporting could do for the world was remarkable and ignited my own passion for this area. During that project, Ernst and I spent countless hours on the road together, seeing investors and companies, watching him describe the vision for GRI. Ernst taught me many things – among them that one will never tire of describing something they are passionate about. Every pitch he made for sustainability reporting was fresh, authentic, and compelling, because that’s how Ernst felt about it. He truly believed it would change the world for the better, and it has. Look at the extraordinary impact GRI has had – we now take for granted the idea of sustainability reporting, and the importance of sustainability issues to companies, their investors, and other stakeholders. Ernst believed strongly in giving a voice to those who could not gain access to corporate boardrooms, or vote with their money. He believed all stakeholders affected by corporations had a right to be heard and respected. The concept of companies having stakeholders other than investors is now well established, thanks to Ernst and the work of GRI. We are indebted to his tireless leadership and the trail he blazed for all of us. Now it is up to us to continue to work toward his vision of sustainable companies, resilient markets, and respectful societies achieved through the power of stakeholder engagement and sustainability reporting. We will miss you, Ernst!"
Jean Rogers
Chair of the Board, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board
 

I am so sad to hear of the death of Ernst Ligteringen. Our paths crossed frequently on the 'sustainability circuit', and he became a good friend when I moved to Amsterdam i 2007 to work for APG. I remember with great fondness the evenings of full of laughter that my wife Fiona and I spent with Ernst and Maria Jose during our time in the Netherlands. We will miss him and our thoughts are with his family.
Rob Lake
 

"Ernst Ligteringen was one of the world leaders on the modern, sustainable corporation. He worked tirelessly with corporations, investors, governments, labor unions, human rights and environmental advocates to bring the Global Reporting Initiative into the forefront of corporate reporting on the central concerns of our time: environmental, social and governance issues.
He was a kind and decent man and he gave GRI the foundation to show the way forward toward growth and prosperity for our Mother Earth."
 Rob McGarrah
 AFL-CIO Office of Investment

 
"It is with great sadness that I have learnt of Ernst passing. 
Of all the international and for Purpose organizations I have worked, GRI I feel has had the most profound impact. It is through Ernst that GRI has been the primary strategy that thousands of companies have employed to profoundly improved their practices on issues of sustainability. 
On a personal level, I will remember Ernst as a gentle leader. His vision was clear and his guidance genuine. As a young manager he put me in my place once or twice, but never with any meanness or malice, rather he helped me grow within my role. 
My condolences to his wife and children."
 Victoria Whitaker
Co-Head, Advice & Education
 
 
"Unforgettable moments shared in the beginning of GRI.
Ernst was a great leader and a kind person who  devoted his life to sustainability and reporting. Great memories shared. Requiescecat in pace."
Dr. Enrique Prini Estebecorena
Legal & Compliance Manager, PAMPA ENERGIA

 
"Ernst had the perfect characteristics to scale our cause in half generation: from idea to law ; this required vision, wisdom, convening power, stamina, kindness. There is so much we should be grateful for in Ernst leading our journey to mainstream adoption. Thank you so much, Ernst!"
Herman Mulder

 
"Dear friend Ernst
I was honored to meet you. I am so grateful for your friendship and all lessons you gave me. Thank you for having believed in me. Rest In Peace, dear friend." 
Heloisa Covolan
ITAIPU Binacional, Brasil
 
 
"Friends,
I just want to add a sentence to my contribution
It has been with enormous sorrow that I have learned of the death of Ernst Ligteringen, my friend and colleague for 22 years.  In 1995 Ernst and I began a partnership as Chair and CEO of Oxfam International, a new organisation bringing together the global Oxfam family under the one umbrella.  Happily this collaboration continued in the early years of GRI where once again we were Chair and CEO of a new organisation.   Ernst provided outstanding leadership and guidance in establishing and nurturing both organisations with all the challenges and excitement of those early years.   The world has lost a champion and so many of us have lost a great friend.  My heart goes out to Marie-Jose, Saskia and Ilonka."
Judy Henderson
Chair GRI 2002–2006

 
"Dear Ernst,
Please know that your life wasn't lived in vain. It is said that one person can change the world. You have brought that change in corporate reporting world and managed to leave a legacy.
Sincere Condolences to family, friends and colleagues."
Vishnee Payen
Group Sustainability & CSR Manager, LUX Resorts & Hotels

 
"I want to express to the Ligteringen family and to all his GRI friends and fans, my deep respect and warm feelings with the passing away of Ernst Ligteringen.
For me he was an example of how human beings should behave and commuicate.
I will miss him ........ 
Wishes for strength and comfort to Maria Jose and her children !!" 
Eduard P.M. Standaert
 
 
"My condolences to all of Ernst’s family, his GRI family and the GRI international community he created.
I have known Ernst for so many years, it was such a total shock to learn of his passing. I am still really battling to think that he won’t pop up somewhere on email or at an event. 
Over the years he was always true to himself, true to his family and displayed an enormous commitment to building a more sustainable future. He was a diplomat, a man of integrity and commitment but also a fun and interesting person to spend time with. A genuine man of the world - multi lingual, multi cultural and possessed of a wonderful ability to communicate with people from around the world.  I had the privilege of travelling with him to many parts of the world and appearing on public platforms with him and alongside him and in support of him and the GRI. It was always a pleasure. 
The first time i worked with the GRI was in the original office on the canal and over the years I saw much of Amsterdam with the GRI and Ernst firmly in the lead.  He had the knack of appointing dedicated teams and seemed to be constantly surrounded by people of great skill and charm. He had the same skill with the Board as he did with the staff and the Stakeholder Council which I chaired and he left behind dedicated reporters in every country he visited.  I will always remember him as a man as much at ease on his bicycle as he was in the presence of business and political leaders, a man with a ready smile and the ability to put people at ease — but fiercely protective of what he believed in.  A true man of the world,  he leaves behind legions of  supporters and his legacy will last a very long time. I will miss him.
May he rest in peace."
Karin Ireton
Sustainability matters
 

 
"Tuve el placer de conocer a Ernst mientras trabajaba en KPMG en una mesa de trabajo con otras firmas para temas de estrategia de impulsar el uso del Reporte Integrado en Colombia. Con un profundo sentimiento de tristeza recibí esta noticia y deseo expresar mi solidaridad yun abrazo caluroso para su familia y gente cercana. A Ernst lo recordaré en el corazón con enorme gratitud y siempre con la imagen de un hombre jovial, de una gran calidez humana, positivo y siempre dispuesto a dar sus aportes e ideas para contribuir en una buena gestión con los temas alrededor de la sostenibilidad. Sentimientos de gratitud y cariño quedarán por siempre en mi corazón al recordarlo. Fortaleza y bendiciones para todos los suyos." 
Isabel Alvarez

 
"Ernst, en este Valle del Cauca, también tuyo, queda viva tu inspiración de la sostenibilidad como un cambio de mentalidad frente a la forma en la que habitamos el planeta. Siempre nos repetiste que depende de nosotros crear el mundo que todos queremos con negocios y sociedades responsables. ¡Creemos en eso, trabajamos por eso!" https://youtu.be/E-XJAukd1rM
Alexei Arbona
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana

  
"I am shocked to hear such devastating news – a true shining star has left us ...We are poker without him and yet rich for all he gave us .... hopefully he is watching over us and cheering us on ...."
Stella Whittaker 
Former GRI Director Austrailia
 
 
"So many moments to remember together with Ernst: his first talk to GRI staff, the first Christmas party (and many more that followed, the draw of gifts was his idea), GRI's difficult times with external accountant Simon (who helped us tremendously, an old colleague of Ernst), our travels together, the first couple of GRI conferences, the Board meetings he nicely orchestrated, the Stakeholder Council meetings he was supporting, and many face-to-face meetings in which I learned from his experience. And finally the moments in which we also agreed to disagree, which we both managed responsibly. All these moments came up in my memory since I heard of Ernst's passing. 12 years in office that did leave a strong mark on GRI. He will be sadly missed. Alexandra and I send warm thoughts and condolences to Ernst's wife, daughters and family. I hope GRI will organize a moment of remembrance for staff and alumni to share our most precious 'Ernst moments'."
Ralph Thurm 
Former GRI staff member 
 
 
"So sad Ernst was a remarkable person who left strong footprints and we will remember him with great respect and fondness."
Elisabeth Dahlin
Secetary general, Save the Children 
Co-founder of the GRI governmental advisory group 

 
"I am so sorry to hear this. He was truly inspiring! Have fond memories of our association with him at GRI. He flew down to New Delhi especially for the first ever Sustainability retreat that we organized for the board of directors of SAIL. Rest in peace Ernst."
Meenakshi Kakkar
SAIL India 

 
 
"When I got the devastating news of Ernst death I was shocked and paralyzed. Can't accept it. My thoughts are with his family, the big GRI family and the all CSR & Sustainability world."
Talia Aharoni 
Former CS member and sustainability leader, Israel

 
 
"5 years ago The Rio+20 was starting... what an amazing opportunity I had to be there and be part of and witness so much positive things happen in the same space!
Due to the events of yesterday I can't help myself but to remember that 5 years ago today I met Ernst Ligteringen, a man of light, of kindness, of goodness, a leader like not many and an inspiration... and 5 years later Facebook is filled with people's comments from all over the world about how he will be missed! He's become a sustainability legend...RIP Ernst."
Catarina Bronstein
Former GRI, Brazil
 
 
 "How many of us, around the world, Ernst inspired? Uncountable. Rest In Peace, dear friend."
 Heloisa Covolan
Itaipu, Brazil, former SC member and funder of many GRI events
 
 
"Very sad news and hard to believe. Ernst has left an incredible legacy and memories that will stay with many of us the rest of our lives. Rest in peace Ernst."
Katherine Hill
Former staff member

  
"It has been my privilege to work for many years alongside Ernst on the Board as we built the International Integrated Reporting Council and its framework. Subsequent to his leaving GRI and the IIRC Board we stayed in touch as he developed his thinking on social capital. A man of principle and integrity....he will be missed by us all."
Paul Druckman
Former CEO, IIRC
 
 
"Mijn schoolvriend is niet meer. Mijn welgemeende condoleance aan zijn familie. Sterkte." 
     Fred Reijmerink
 
 
"It is with great sadness that I heard of the passing of Hans Ligteringen. I first met Hans as a young development worker with Oxfam in the Andean Region and he was one of the people who inspired me. I remember him as a man of integrity and vision, true to his principles to make this world a better one. My heart felt condolences go out to Maria José and his children."
Fabienne Warrington
 
 
"It was a privilege to have worked under Ernst. I deeply admire and respect him and his dedication to GRI. 
May his legacy live on and spiral the all good he has done many times over. 
My thoughts are with his family." 
Maggie Lee
 
 
“Ernst was a remarkable colleague with whom I had the pleasure to work with closely through my role as a member of the Stakeholder Council. The growth of GRI into the global platform that it is today can be directly credited to the brilliance of Ernst. It was his vision, perseverance and entrenched belief that drove GRI to grow and spread around the world. We have lost a dear colleague and cherished advocate of sustainable development.  My sincere condolences to Ernst’s family and friends on this great loss.”
Ms Habiba Al Marashi
President & CEO, Arabia CSR Network

  
"Dearest Ernst. It is with great sadness that I hear of your passing, you were such a lovely, kind and understanding man. Although we have not been in contact for a few years now you, Marie-Jose and the girls have never been far from my thoughts. He will be sadly missed by all.  With much love."  
Wendy Darby 
Formerly IFRC 2000
 
 
"Ernst will be remembered for his passion for sustainability and promotion of better reporting. He was the driving force to get the GRI underway and played a significant role in helping South Africa as one of the first countries in the world to embrace and mandate sustainability reporting.  It was a pleasure for me to know Ernst and to work with him at different levels over the last eleven years.  His loss is not only huge to his family and friends, but to the entire sustainability community.  Rest in peace, Ernst!"  
Stiaan Wandrag
Head: Sustainability Advisory, Sasol SA (Pty) Ltd
  
 
"In your life you only meet a few people that you consider it a privilege to have met, that make a lasting impression on you and for which you have the deepest respect and admiration. Ernst was such a person, but at the same time he was a very kind and likable person, and it was always a great pleasure to be in his company. If I should use one word to describe Ernst it would be generosity. He made an invaluable contribution to the progress of responsibility in the international business community, and he did so by using his tremendous powers of persuasion and convincing and creating trust. He worked hard to ensure that we and not least our children can all have a future that is both prosperous and in balance creating opportunities for all. We have truly lost a magnificent human being and a tireless fighter for a better world for us all. My deepest sympathy for such a tragic loss goes to the family of Ernst."
Victor Kjær
Deputy Director General, Danish Business Authority

  
"Dear Ernst, 
What a kind, kind man you were, and I’m sure you still are, only you are somewhere else now. My heartfelt condolences to the family and all those who knew Ernst.
'The heart, like the mind, has a memory. And in it are kept the most precious keepsakes.'
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)"
Gerda van Daalen
GRI staff member
 
 
"On behalf of the JSE, please accept our deepest condolences on Ernst’s passing. The impact that he had on sustainability practices and reporting over his time at GRI, was more significant than what can be measured, and leaves a legacy that will outlast any of us.  I will remember Ernst as a gentle soul with a shining passion for GRI and its work.  We salute your work to carry on expanding and growing the impact and reach of GRI, and look forward to continued interaction in achieving the goals that we share towards quality corporate transparency.
I am certain that you also feel his loss very deeply from a personal perspective, and our thoughts are with you, the GRI team and Ernst’s family during this difficult time."
Corli le Roux
Head of Sustainability, Capital Markets Division, Johannesburg Stock Exchange

 
 
"He will be sorely missed." 
Jayne Mammatt 
Partner/Director, Sustainability and Climate Change, PwC 

  
"Our hearts are with the GRI Family at this time."
Emilia Asim-Ita
Thistle Praxis Consulting, Nigeria

 
 
"It is sad to hear of this development. Ernst was great man really dedicated to GRI and sustainability reporting development around the world. Please my sincere condolences to GRI, his family, friend and the sustainability world."
Rodney Ndamba
 
 
 
"This is a great loss. Please express our sincere condolences to the GRI family." 
Claude Kabemba
Director, Southern Africa Resource Watch

 
 
"Sending my condolences to his wife, friends & colleagues. Spent several years working with Ernst promoting sustainability."
Mervyn King
 
 
"Sincere condolences to the GRI team and the bereaved family."
 Rajiv Ramlugon
Omnicare
 
 
"What a shock. He was a man of integrity and had a very deep impact. Our condolences to his family."
Karin Ireton
Former Chair GRI Stakeholder Council

  
"I remember exciting and turbulent moments in the 2000s, managing the UNEP GRI relationship at times when its young secretariat and evolving Board had to deal with difficult questions of long-term development, resource mobilization and always facing diverse stakeholder views. When Ernst called he often started directly with a soft-spoken 'gaat het goed' in Dutch, me initially somewhat irritated by the person talking without giving his name. But I got to know Ernst as some-one always straight to the point. And from what I learned over the years some-one who took care tremendously and loved to surprise his staff members with rewarding events after major project milestones. He was a real sustainability champion. He will be missed tremendously... in the GRI community and far beyond." 
Cornis van der Lugt 
Senior Research Fellow, Stellenbosch University Business School
 
 
"On receiving the news of the passing of Ernst Ligteringen, I would like to express my sincere condolences. We always appreciated his sincere attitude and soft but strong leadership and were honored to have worked with him. 
From the bottom of my heart I pray that his soul may rest in peace."
Mr. Takuya Fukumoto
Director, Industrial Finance / New Business Division, Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau, Japanese METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry)

 
 
"I was very sad to hear about Ernst's death. During all his carreer, he brought a lot to the 'sustainability cause'. He was a real 'mover and shaker'. In GRI, as the first Director, he has been a wonderful leader to put Sustainability Reporting on the map, bringing together all the 
partners, NGOs, Business, and other third parties! Sincere condoleances to his family."
Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel
Former UNEP Director, former member of GRI's Board

 
 
"My thoughts are with the family, during these difficult times.
Ernst was a beautiful person and I will always remember his kindness."
Drusilla Mulwa
GRI Staff member
 
"Some people cross our lives,
people that know more, have lived longer, 
hold positions of vision and influence,
people that love to share,
to inspire, to question, to support those starting the path.
People that dream big, 
that seek with love and integrity,
Unselfish dreams and intentions that materialize generations after.
Such a person was Ernst.  
Gracias querido amigo." 
Felipe Arango
Partner BSD
 
 
 
"I am sad to hear about the passing of Ernst Ligteringen. Through his leadership at GRI, Ernst has had a profound impact on the world, and he will be missed. I extend my condolences to his family and friends, and to everyone he has touched through his work."
Diederik Timmer
Executive Vice President, Sustainalytics
 
 
 
"I am deeply sorry and affected by Ernst death. Deepest condolences to his family. I had the pleasure of working with him during my time as head of GRI Australia."
Africa G. Zanella
M.Comm,GAICD AEE

 
 
I´m saddened to hear of the passing of Ernst. As many, I had the pleasure of knowing him for many years as the GRI Chief Executive. Without doubt, his hard work has made GRI what it is today. He worked tirelessly to make GRI what it has become, the world’s first sustainability reporting standard. My sincere condolences to his wife, family and friends. 
John Scade
Director General, MAS Business

 
 
Querida Maria José e filhas,
Nosso mais profundo sentimento de solidariedade nesse momento triste e de muita dor.
O Ernst era um querido amigo, uma pessoa admirável.
Sentiremos, Ciça e eu, muitas saudades do amigo.
Rodolfo Guttilla

 
 
"We have lost a man who has not only developed with this team the ‘tiny’ GRI into a global organization that is recognized as the leading organization in the field of sustainability reporting – we also lose someone who knew how to create a group of friends and supporters for that initiative. I will not forget Ernst’s soft voice, his ability to drive new ideas into real projects with gentle requests that created enthusiasm and his elegancy: always a smile, excellent in creating strong relationships.
Ernst and I started with a professional co-operation, but over time moved into deeper conversations: the big trends in the world, the big events in life such as the marriage of his daughter and the birth of his grandchildren, the big considerations about a life post-GRI.
I had hoped that his life could have lasted much longer than now has been given to him and his beloved ones.
My sincere condolences to his family, his large group of friends and all his colleagues at GRI."
 
Wim Bartels
Partner at KPMG

 
"I was shocked and saddened to read about Ernst's passing. I had the pleasure and privilege of getting to know him back in his earliest days with GRI in its original Amsterdam offices, and meeting him many times thereafter, at GRI Conferences or at events in Canada where he was carrying the flag for GRI, or at A4S Forums and IIRC Working Group meetings. As so many others have said, I remember a warm-hearted, gracious and thoughtful man, one who wisely and skillfully steered the fledgling GRI from those early days through its formative years, to develop into the respected, influential global organization we see today. Sustainability and sustainability reporting have lost a great champion, and we have all lost a good friend of the planet. May he rest in peace."
Alan Willis
Founding member of GRI Steering Committee
 
 
"Ernst was a brilliant visionary, somebody who understood different points of view and was just the right leader for getting GRI going to great places. He was also a friend. Other than these words, I can’t find anything better to write than the message written by Bob Massie, who echoed my sentiments perfectly."
Christopher Wells
Risco Socioambiental, Brazil
 
 
"Su apacible convicción inspiró los más preciosos años de mi vida, la utopía dejó de ser tal. el sueño era posible de convertirse en realidad. Gracias Ernst ! Seguiremos en el camino , tú estarás a nuestro lado, presente siempre."
Luis Perera Aldama
Former partner with PwC, Chile; member of several GRI working groups

  
"I first met Ernst soon after he became the CEO of GRI. It was a hectic time for him but he couldn’t have been more gracious. Since then, I’m fortunate to have gotten to know Ernst very well through our shared interest in using corporate reporting to improve the world. We didn’t always agree on the issues, but Ernst always made his case logically and constructively. He wanted to find the right answer, which was not always his initial answer.
After the great start to GRI given by Bob Massie and Allen White, the organization thrived under Ernst’s leadership and this contributed substantially to the sustainability reporting movement. Ernst and GRI were true pioneers in laying the groundwork for other organizations like CDSB, IIRC, and SASB.
Ernst was a giant in the field of corporate reporting and will be sorely missed. I extend my condolences to all of his friends and family. I’m also sorry that he passed so prematurely and will miss what I’m sure is a bright future for better corporate reporting for a better world, to a very large extent thanks to him."
Robert G. Eccles
Chairman, Arabesque Partners

  
"I am deeply saddened by the news of Ernst's passing. I just heard this sad news from GRI, my first employer in the Netherlands. I remembered him as a wise, low-key, humble and very friendly man. He was very approachable and he loved discussing Indonesia's political situation with me, among other things. When I decided to leave GRI, he came to me and gave me great advice, which was very Ernst - he cared a lot for the staff. He told me that I was always welcome to come 'home' to GRI. The world has lost a wise and visionary leader in sustainability reporting. My thoughts and prayers are with his family
May you rest in peace Ernst. You will be deeply missed."
Novi Indayani
Former GRI staff member
 
 
"A propósito de la partida de un amigo del IARSE y gran compañero de camino en la construcción de un mundo mejor: Ernst Ligteringen
Siempre es duro y difícil despedir a un amigo.
Ernst Ligteringen, tras honrar un profundo compromiso con la vida, su defensa y cuidado, ha partido en días recientes. 
Una causa común nos encontró. Y él nos regaló su amistad, su simpatía, su dedicación y su ejemplo coherente. Todos aprendimos de él porque buena parte de sus preocupaciones estaban centradas en crear lenguajes globales de transparencia, de participación y de acercamiento. Fue capaz de saltar muy alto desde ese trampolín que es Global Reporting Initiativa (GRI) para crear una cultura del dialogo y el encuentro entre diferentes actores sociales como las empresas, los gobiernos, las organizaciones de la Sociedad Civil y los sindicatos. Lo que buscaba para el mundo lo pretendía para sí; por eso partió dejando muchos amigos en este camino inacabable que supone la construcción de sociedad más justas, transparentes y por ende sustentables
Agradecemos a Ernst por su entrega y entusiasmo, a la vez que saludamos con afecto a todos los miembros de GRI y a sus familiares."
Adriana Heredia, Jimena Mercado, Julieta Ramírez, Alejandro Roca,
Luis Ulla, Federico Zárate
Equipo de trabajo, IARSE, Argentina 
 
  
“Ernst had already done a great deal, but he had more to give. I am deeply saddened by his passing. Leading a global multi-stakeholder organisation like the GRI requires great skill and integrity, which Ernst had in abundance. It is hard to imagine that sustainability reporting would have the prominence it does today without the passion and hard work of Ernst and the team he inspired and led at the GRI.”
Peter Colley
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, Australia;
Stakeholder Council member 2011-2017
 
  
"I'm deeply saddened by Ernst's demise. He was a pioneer in the field, whose impact can be seen all around the world."
Anirban Ghosh
Chief Sustainability Officer, Mahindra Group
 
 
"The world has lost an important advocate for the cause of sustainability. We are grateful to have had the honor of working with Ernst, and appreciated him as an innovative, resourceful and inspiring leader in the sustainability field. Ernst developed, furthered, standardized and publicized sustainability reporting like no one else. He understood the vital role of GRI, and managed to enhance a vast international network to his cause. Thanks to his understanding of cultures within corporations and communities, he managed to effectively leverage his network to shape the sustainability landscape for the years to come. We reach out to his family and friends to offer our sincere condolences."
Daniel Wild
Head of Sustainability Investing Research & Development, RobecoSAM
Edoardo Gai
Head of Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM

 
"I first met Ernst as a newly elected Stakeholder Council member when he was the newly appointed Executive Director of the GRI. He and I shared a common background, in that we were both members of the Oxfam Family: Ernst having run Oxfam International and I as the Regional Program Director for Oxfam America. On first meeting Ernst, one was struck with his personal characteristics of intelligence, grace, generosity and kindness. He immediately welcomed one in to the GRI family and created an atmosphere of inclusivity and hospitality.
His professional characteristics were exactly what the GRI needed: he had vision, tenacity, connections within the European community, credibility and the ability to make the value proposition of the GRI and sustainability believable and even palpable to his audiences. He knew what the gold standard should be and he also knew that the path to achieving this would not be immediate. He saw the end goal and he played a long game. Without Ernst at the helm, and without his clear-sightendess, the GRI would not have assumed the leadership role that is has and continues to play. He threw himself wholeheartedly behind the multi-stakeholder solution and for this, I and many other representatives from civil society, are truly in his debt."
Constance Kane
GRI Stakeholder Council
 
 
"Ernst was the heart and soul of GRI for so many years, central in building GRI to what it is today, and leaving us with so much to be thankful for. It is a very sad and untimely loss of a colleague and friend who still had so much to give as a person and as a thought leader in the world of reporting and sustainable development.
Our thoughts are with his family and those who worked closely with him for many years."
On behalf of the GRI Stakeholder Council,
Helena Barton
Chair 

 
"To the family and friends of Ernst Ligteringen
It's with great sadness that we have heard about the passing away of Ernst Ligteringen. What an amazing person and what a remarkable life. I feel so lucky that I got to know him.
On behalf of the team at TheBC.lab we would like to express our deepest and profound sympathy to family and friends of Ernst.
With warm thoughts and prayers."
Luc Lapointe
TheBC.lab

 
"Ernst was a pioneer, a scholar, a humanist, an advocate for justice, a facilitator of dialogue (in many languages). Most of all he was a consummate gentleman. We are all better for having known him, for having learned from him, for having been on the other side of arguments with him. To his family, thank you for supporting his extensive efforts in pursuit of a better world.  We are sorry for your loss and ours."
On behalf of all of Ernst’s colleagues at Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship
Katherine Smith
 

 
"Estimado Ernst:
Me ha tomado por sorpresa el anuncio de tu partida. Nunca tuve la oportunidad, a pesar de las muchas veces que compartimos juntos, de decirte la gran admiración que te tuve, mucho de lo que he hecho hoy se debe a los principios y conducta que tuviste en vida. Cuando me tocó asumir el liderazgo de Forum EMPRESA tu apoyo fue siempre honesto, entregando mas de lo que uno esperaba. Buen viaje Ernst a donde tu espíritu te lleve o transforme, un abrazo enorme a tu familia, a Ilonka con quien compartimos en casa, y gracias por todo lo que hiciste por un tener una sociedad mas justa y sustentable."
Hugo Vergara
Director, BSD Consulting Chile

 
 
"Ficamos muito tristes com o falecimento do Ernst. Tinhamos muito admiração e afeto por ele. Ernst procurou dar um sentido a sua vida nas atividades profissionais e nas relações pessoais. Será sempre lembrado com muito carinho."

 Mara e Oded Grajew 
 
 
"Dear Ernst,
I had the privilege of working with you for many years. Despite being in Amsterdam far away from Brazil, your presence was and will continue being very strong here. Whenever I needed guidance, an idea, an opinion you were there to support and help develop the next steps.
Ernst you are so admired in Brazil and I could write pages and pages about how you could bring GRI to a truly global level, etc., but I would like to celebrate the good person you were and how you will be remembered by the people here.
You were the most 'walk the talk' sustainability leader I´ve ever seen:
Do you remember in 2005 - we organized the first events in Brazil – the G3 Sneak Peek? After seeing the event´s structure you had only one strong recommendation – the speakers at the stage must be 50% women (or even more) and 50% men. Gender equality was always very important issue for you since ever.
You were always very simple (not simplistic) and humble – and could be very comfortable amongst CEOs, ministers, and with whoever you met – you were always kind and respectful with everybody, no matter what their position– the people were always the most important for you. That called much attention and made you very special among the Brazilian audience.
I also remember a very special detail: you always had a booklet - it was about the endangered fish types – and you always consulted it before ordering a plate at the restaurant to make sure you were not contributing to unsustainability of the planet….
So many things to say… so many things to thank for your leadership, friendship, generosity, kindness, patience and example. It was an honor to work with you.  Your legacy will continue making all the difference wherever you are.
Ernst, thank you so much for everything. Be happy wherever you are."
Glaucia Terreo
GRI Regional Hub in Brazil

 

"I was shocked and saddened to hear that Ernst had passed away, and send my deepest sympathy to his family, friends and former GRI colleagues. I knew Ernst throughout his time at GRI in my role in various working groups and all the GRI conferences through the various iterations of the Guidelines as well as during my secondment to GRI to help develop G4. We didn’t always agree but I had the utmost respect for his leadership of GRI and know that he was sincerely committed to sustainability and tirelessly promoted the role of reporting to further a more sustainable world."
Jennifer Iansen-Rogers
Partner, Head of Corporate Assurance, ERM Certification and Verification Services

 
 
"It is with enormous sadness that I just heard about the passing of our dear friend and colleague Ernst. He was here in my office in Madrid on 6 June, having come from advising Telefonica on CSR issues. We had spoken, but not seen each other for years, so afterwards we went for beers and tapas next door. He was in great form, chatting with all my colleagues in Spanish, full of positive energy and exuding his typical enthusiasm for life and social good. He was even convincing me to change my company status. Having worked with Ernst for nearly 20 years as he set up Oxfam International in the Netherlands, seeking our advice at Greenpeace International there; working together at the International Federation of the Red Cross and helping Ernst recruit his first senior staff team at GRI in Amsterdam and supporting the fundraising program for him. Only two months ago he provided invaluable advice to my team and me when we were working on a project for Integrated Reporting (IIRC), which he was as passionate about as ever. Our last words after our tapas and beers were about the value of getting our work-life balance correct so we can appreciate and enjoy our friends and family. RIP Ernst and thanks for all you gave in life."
Daryl Upsall
Chief Executive, Daryl Upsall Consulting International SL

 
 
"The Brazilian Corporate Governance Institute (IBGC) is deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Ernst Ligteringen. Leading GRI between 2002 and 2014, he was responsible for the great evolution of organizations' sustainability reports.
The world has lost an inspiring leader and a great supporter of sustainability reporting. I had the opportunity to receive Mr. Ernst Ligteringen a few times at IBGC. His legacy will remain and must not be forgotten.
We offer our sincerest condolences to Mr. Ligteringen's family and GRI staff members."
Heloisa Bedicks
Managing Director, IBGC
 
 
 
"I heard the news of Ernst’s passing last week and I can’t stop thinking of a photo taken when we were 15-year-olds: sitting on top of a dune with a group of teenagers away for the weekend at sea. Ernst is surrounded by everyone, his hands waving to a little child approaching - he's the centre of it all. And when I read all these lovely and heartfelt tributes I thought: That’s what he has been all his life. The centre of his family, of every organization he has worked for or with, and people not only loved what he was doing, but loved the man himself. It’s been there, even then, back when I met him in our last years at school. Ernst, you will be missed."
Janneke Kloos
Former classmate
 

 
"It is truly sad to hear this shocking news! It took a while for me to realize it is true… With my experiences working with him during his two visits to Beijing, Ernst always seemed so vigorous and dedicated to his work; the thought of him leaving us one day just never occurred to me. I can never forget how encouraging, warm, elegant and kind he was. When I look at the photos and videos of the seminar and media interviews we had 6 years ago, I can still remember vividly his words and smiles and how he explained sustainability reporting to a local newspaper. My condolences to his wife and children, he will be remembered and missed…" 
Lixian Chen
Former GRI staff member

 
"It has been a privilege working for and with Ernst at GRI. I admired his enormous commitment to the cause, his boundless dedication and strong belief that what we do as an organization is meaningful and has a great impact on society at large. He was not only an inspiring leader but also a much-appreciated friend … I’ll miss him. My thoughts are with Maria Jose, the children and grandchildren, and I wish them strength in these difficult times and beyond."
Peter Westra
GRI Chief Financial Officer

 
 
"É com pesar que o Conselho Empresarial Brasileiro para o Desenvolvimento Sustentável (CEBDS) recebeu a notícia do falecimento, no último dia 15 de junho, de Ernst Ligteringen. Trata-se de uma perda inestimável para todos que trabalham por um mundo mais equilibrado econômico, social e ambientalmente.
Com grande competência, Ernst presidiu a Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) de 2002 a 2014, capitaneando a evolução dos Padrões GRI, que hoje são a principal referência mundial de relatoria de sustentabilidade.
O CEBDS já teve o prazer de aprender com Ernst em seus eventos, como o Congresso Sustentável em 2005, ou em outras tantas atividades ao seu lado. A parceria com o GRI sempre foi motivo de orgulho para o Conselho, gerando frutos como o Grupo de Trabalho de Empresas Pioneiras em Relatórios de Sustentabilidade, o Guia dos ODS para empresas e os Indicadores de Biodiversidade GRI.
Aos familiares e aos parceiros do GRI, prestamos as nossas condolências e deixamos os nossos mais sinceros pêsames."
Marina Grossi
President, Brazilian BCSD
 

 
"It was a great shock to hear of Ernst’s death. It is an enormous loss to the family for whom we pray. It also is a huge loss to GRI and the sustainability community. Through his leadership of GRI from its formative years to its present key position as a real method of measuring progress and benchmarking of performance in business and industry, Ernst has made a real mark and this will be his memorial. Having had the honour to serve on the GRI board with Ernst leading the executive team, Judy and I will also miss a friend. Ernst was a very determined person who pushed for results in a very understated way. I will miss that little smile and twinkle as he prepared his response and the next step forward. His approach brought people from very diverse backgrounds and points of view to work together in the GRI community."
Mark Moody-Stuart

 

 

"Very sorry to hear of Ernst’s passing. He took me on as an Australian not long in EU and it was a great organization to be able to work with."

Rebecca Short
Former GRI colleague


 

"Sad to hear this. I remember the excitement of working in 2006 with Ernst, Teresa and Alyson – and many other colleagues – on the first ever GRI global conference. I was privileged to be part of something good. That conference was just one of many ground-breaking steps that GRI took under Ernst’s leadership. He had a strong belief that sustainability reporting can help drive the change needed to achieve sustainable development. I have no doubt that his former colleagues at GRI today share that belief and will keep going with GRI’s important work."

Andrew Coogan
Former GRI colleague


 

"My prayers and thoughts are with Ernst and his family."

Terence Jeyaretnam
EY Australia 


 

"I'm so sorry to hear this. I have very many fond memories of working with Ernst and the team he so graciously led. Thinking of the GRI family. My thoughts are with Ernst's family and loved ones."

Debbie Dickinson
Former GRI colleague

 


 

"I'm so sorry to hear this. He was really an outstanding leader and such a kind man. He did a lot of good. Thinking of everyone at GRI."

Sandy Pederson


 

 

"The terrible news of Ernst's passing brings back a flood of memories about his time in Oxfam GB and then Oxfam International -- when I was a troublsesome young Oxfam India employee wanting to barge his way into the OI family.  I think my first proper interactions with Ernst were when he came to Delhi (circa 1996) to try and take stock of the chaotic situation he faced, and I remember expecting to have a difficult exchange. Instead, in a conversation I recall well, I came to understand what a remarkably passionate man he was, filled with integrity and a real care for people and their ideas. We ended up having a genuine exchange about values-driven development and why the issue was bigger than any one of us. I felt a surge of empathy for him, and for the approach he was taking. A few years later when I moved to Oxford with OGB, Ernst recounted that conversation and asked if I would write a piece on development values in the changing north-south INGO context. It was special to me that a conversation from 3 years ago had stayed with both of us. Ernst even hosted Denise and I for a couple of dinners in his Oxford home over the 2 years we were there, and these were warm and fun evenings which we recalled fondly. I didn't get to see much of Ernst after he left Oxfam, but we connected electronically on occasion and shared notes on what we were up to. And he introduced me to some people who were moving to Asia. They became friends, and in fact it is they who informed me of this sad news.

It was on more than a few occasions that I drew on the wisdom and values that Ernst embodied, when I ended up in the thick of helping see Oxfam India finally come into being in 2007 and 2008. I will remember him with respect and fondness. My deepest and sincerest condolences to all his family, colleagues and close friends."

Ashvin Dayal
The Rockefeller Foundation; former Oxfam colleague


 


 

"Ernst’s values of equality and inclusion are so easily discernable in the massive worldwide network of tens of thousands of people that he helped build and that together are still moving sustainability reporting forward in leaps and bounds. He was architect and conductor of this network. Ernst believed all voices counted and should be heard. He helped ensure balance, so that the powerful did not drown out the weak, and all parties had an equal seat at the table. Today, the GRI Standards are developed, used and maintained by the network that he built."

Alyson Slater
GRI Knowledge Director

 

 

 

"The memories I have of Ernst that stand out the most, are of his kindness and graciousness - of him eating a terrible meal at a dinner in his honour, without once complaining…. of him watching patiently as I presented to a company’s Board of Directors, in India, when clearly they would have rather listened to him… and of him chatting to everyone in the office over coffee, each day, normally in their native language. Ernst held strong values, which he lived, worked and led GRI by. My appreciation of what he achieved at GRI in terms of vision, growth, and partnerships, has only increased over the years, and I am very thankful to have known and worked with a leader with such integrity."

Nikki Wood
GRI Corporate and Stakeholder Relations Director

 

 

 

"I was so lucky to work with Ernst for 7 great years, and in many ways, I owe my career in sustainability to him. Under his leadership during this time GRI grew from being a small NGO promoting something that was considered a niche practice, to a highly respected global organization leading the way to more responsible business conduct around the world. But to me Ernst was first and foremost a genuinely nice person, he was warm and witty, a devoted and loving husband, dad and granddad; a truly gentle man and a gentleman. Like everyone else who knew him I am deeply saddened by his untimely death but at the same time grateful and honoured that I had the opportunity to walk with him for a while."

Asthildur Hjaltadottir
GRI Director Services

 

 

 

"When I arrived at GRI in mid-2004, the organization faced an unprecedented financial challenge. One of Ernst's leadership strengths was the willingness to try new approaches.  Together with committed corporate leaders we built, launched and funded the investor consortium and technology consortium that put in place the funding necessary to launch the (then) G3 Guidelines project which took reporting to the next level. We spent many hours on the road together facing setbacks and success, through all of which Ernst showed the cool demeanour and calm authority that distinguished his leadership and propelled GRI to new heights. He will be missed." 

James Murphy

 

"So sad to hear that Ernst Ligteringen has passed away. Gentle and perseverant, focused on impact rather than easy claims and public slogans. He perhaps wasn't always aware but I can testify that to many business corporations Ernst was an early source of inspiration for taking sustainable development where it should be - mainstream. I wish his family, friends and GRI colleagues strength."
Jan Ernst de Groot
(KLM, TNT, Ahold Delhaize)
 
 
 
"Kien and I were devastated to learn of Ernst’s sudden and all-too-early passing. The more so since we had lunched together in Amsterdam so recently, when he had seemed so well and happy in his new life as independent consultant, Cali-based country gentleman and doting husband/father/grandfather. Ernst was a dear boss, colleague and friend, whose quiet professionalism, wisdom and humour I will miss deeply. His multiple and profound legacies in the fields of social and environmental rights globally are a matter of proud record. Our hearts go out to Marià José and all the family."
Paul Hohnen
GRI Director of Strategy (2002-2004); consultant (2000-2002, 2005-2010)
 
 
 
"It is with great sadness that I have to remember the fantastic work Ernst did for GRI, and the leadership he provided to the Steering Committee which I participated in. Ernst made such a fantastic impact in the organization and individuals through his personal leadership."
Paul Kapelus
Director, Synergy Global Consulting Ltd

 
 
"I fondly remember my four years at GRI, my first long-term employer. And Ernst, the warm and kind CEO who would find the time to chat with me, the new intern. At staff meetings he would talk about the world, and in simple words paint a picture of GRI's work. All of a sudden I'd feel important, a vital part turning the ship in the right direction, saving the globe. I'm not great with putting emotions into words, but I want to say thank you, Ernst, for inspiring and motivating me, for smiling, for leading the way, for touching my life the way you did."
Gergana Petrova
Former GRI staff member
 

 
"Als lezer van de NRC viel mijn oog dit weekend op de overlijdensadvertentie van Ernst Ligteringen. In de tijd dat Ernst werd uitgezonden naar Zaire als fysiotherapeut van Terre des Hommes werkte ik op het hoofdkantoor in Den Haag als hoofd van de donateurs- en financiele administratie en werkte nauw samen met mijn collega Peter Vroom, die de selectie deed van de uit te zenden fysiotherapeuten en ook regelmatig bij hen op bezoek ging op locatie. Als ik me goed herinner heeft Ernst in Zaire gewerkt met de andere fysio Evert Jan Rougoor.
Ik kan me zeker nog  herinneren dat Peter Vroom na terugkomst van een werkbezoek altijd zeer enthosuiast  vertelde  over het werk dat in Zaire door Ernst, Evert-Jan en hun  lokale collega’s voor kinderen met polio in Zaire werd verricht.
Inmiddels werkt er bij Terre des Hommes mogelijk niemand meer die iets weet van die periode, vandaar dat ik u mede namens de collega’s uit die periode mijn oprechte medeleven wil betuigen met het overlijden van Ernst en u wil laten weten dat ik nog met veel plezier terugdenk aan die tijd, de fase waarin Terre des Hommes begon te groeien door de tomeloze en enthosuiaste inzet van velen in Nederland, maar ook in onze projecten, waaronder Ernst. Veel sterkte toegewenst met het verwerken van dit grote verlies, die in de beginjaren van zijn loopbaan al een gepassioneerd werker aan een betere wereld was."
Peter van Daalen de Jel

 
 
"I have had the pleasure to work for Ernst for almost 10 years. He was my first real boss, my mentor and friend.
Ernst had a wonderful way of guiding people, organizations and networks and finding common ground. He was strong and soft at the same time. He has taught me many lessons. I learned how to listen instead of speak; learned how to find consensus and not focus on the differences; learned how to respect cultures and customs; learned what gender equality means in practice and when to make a stand and follow your own ideas. He showed me and everybody he met what you can achieve if you truly believe in a cause.
I always felt Ernst believed in me and he is the reason I am where I am today. It was pure joy working for him and together growing the network. I hold the memories of our joint travels to so many different parts of the world dearly and I always thought one day we’d go on another trip together.
Ernst; you will be missed. My thoughts are with Maria Jose and Saskia and Ilonka. Rest in peace my friend."
Leontien Hasselman-Plugge
CEO, Supply chain Information Management B.V.
 

 
"Deep sadness to learn of the unexpected end to a life filled with great purpose and commitment towards a sustainable world. His leadership was inspirational, exemplary and visionary. His ability to engage diverse viewpoints and shape them into broad-based consensus will forever be cherished. He greatly valued his engagements on the continent. Thank you, Ernst, for the great inspiration and memories with the Stakeholder Council and Regional Hub. Wishing the family and colleagues strength in these difficult times, and comfort knowing that the many good he did, will forever be celebrated."
Douglas Kativu
Director GRI Africa
 

 
"Ernst’s memory and significant contributions to the sustainability cause will live on with all of us at GRI. For those of us who worked closely with Ernst, we know his passion for a sustainable future was at the core of everything he did at GRI. We will miss him and hope that his values and life's purpose will be contagious among those who had the pleasure to interact with him. GRI will for ever be indebted to Ernst for all the progress we achieved during his leadership and tenure."
Christianna Wood
Chairman of the Board, GRI
 

 
"Ernst was a visionary gentleman committed to sustainability, not only with sustainability reporting for which he kept opening new paths, but also mainly for sustainability as part of the daily life. He walked his talk, by caring for colleagues and having a nice word when meeting at the kitchen, being aware of which type of food to eat because it should be banned from a restaurant menu for sustainability reasons, or when - in the later years -  he decided to open new ways to bring sustainability consciousness among relevant actors in Colombia. It was an honor for me to join the enthusiastic GRI team led by him.
My deepest condolences to his family and especially to Maria Jose and his daughters."
Tamara Bergkamp
GRI Manager Sustainability Reporting Standards

 
 
"I have many fond memories of Ernst, I first met him in Amsterdam in 2008, when I went to speak at the GRI Global Conference on Sustainability!
The then chairman of the Global Board of GRI, Mervyn King had introduced me to GRI & Ernst, as Mervyn is also the chairman of the Global Advisory Board, Asian Centre for Corporate Governance & Sustainability.
Ernst & I hit it off instantly, and that was the beginning of my long relationship with him & GRI, which is continuing till date!
In Ernst the world has lost an evangelist for sustainability & sustainable ddevelopment. May his soul rest in peace and god give his entire family strength to bear this irreparable loss."
Prof. Mahendra K. Chouhan
Chairman, Mahendra & Young Knowledge Foundation
Vice Chairman, Global Advisory Board, Asian Centre for Corporate Governance & Sustainability
Member, Independent Appointment Committee, GRI

 
 
"I was so sorry to hear about Ernst’s untimely passing. Ernst was a masterful steward of GRI through sometimes turbulent times. He ensured that GRI maintained its integrity and original purpose, steering it to the prominent position it holds today.
Remembering him fondly from Australia."
Rosemary Sainty
Scholarly Teaching Fellow, UTS Business School
 
 
 
"For professionals who work on sustainability reporting, Ernst is a standard and an example to follow. His passion for sustainable development allowed him to lead an organization that today is a reference for sustainability reporting.
I want to highlight the legacy that Ernst leaves in Colombia. A country where companies have understood the value of sustainable development and where Ernst played a very important role in providing their knowledge and experience for this to happen. Thanks for helping our country follow the path of sustainable development!"
Eduardo A. Atehortua
Manager Sustainability, Deloitte & Touche Ltda


 
"Ernst passing leaves me very sad indeed.  I have known and worked as an ally alongside him for almost 20 years. I was always impressed by his professionalism, commitment and hard work. I remember Ernst calling me in India at the middle of the World Social Forum in Mumbai in 2004 to ask if I would consider coming on the board to fill a vacancy that had been created.  Even though I had a lot on my plate it was hard to say no to Ernst. He was pretty persuasive. I learnt a lot from my interaction with Ernst as a board member of GRI. Ernst passing will leave a big gap in the global sustainability movement but we can take comfort from the fact that his work has contributed to building a broader movement who have more people today to step into his shoes. Lastly, allow me to express my solidarity with folks at GRI and particularly is family at this very painful and big loss." 
Kumi Naidoo
Board Chair, Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity

 

 
"Sometimes, Ernst saw in me much more than I could see myself. He showed me a world, his world, that is human, accessible and full of possibilities. He coached me, introduced me to his family and invited Frank and me to fun parties, boat trips and days riding bikes through the Netherlands.
He offered me the opportunity to create the learning and services area at GRI, then to lead the development of G4 and to become GRI’s deputy chief executive. The development and launch of G4 was the most complex and fulfilling project I have ever worked on. To deliver it, Ernst and I had to face unthinkable challenges. And so we did – sometimes smoothly, sometimes not so smoothly. When we put our energies together we could achieve a lot, so that’s what we did. I am so immensely glad we did.
Very few people have touched and shaped my life the way Ernst has. Two weeks after his passing, I am still so very sad that I can’t find the right words to express my feelings. I think of Maria Jose and his daughters and grandchildren. I think of our many colleagues.
I want to say goodbye to him, wishing that his way of believing in people’s potential and bringing diverse people together to achieve great things remains an inspiration to all of us.
Goodbye Ernst."
Nelmara Arbex
 

 
"When we spoke with Ernst just a week before the sad news reached the GRI office, he was so full of plans, happy and most of all he was a proud grandpa of three beautiful grandchildren! In the years that I worked directly with Ernst and those times we met after, my most vivid memory is Ernst’s love for his family! Every time that he would speak of Maria Jose there was an instant  happy sparkle in his eyes! I always admired that. Also at work he was a very kind, supportive and understanding boss. I started working with Ernst shortly after my move to the Netherlands and everything was still new – starting a family, taking my Dutch exam, having my first daughter, studying for the driving license exam. I remember how much Ernst supported all my efforts of integrating in the Dutch society, beyond my direct GRI tasks, and how genuinely he cared! I will always be grateful for this and will miss Ernst deeply!"
Aliona Tency
Ernst’s assistant from 2008-2011
 

  
"GRI has become reference. Ernst was a reference. Indissociable situations the world will miss."
Roberto S. Waack

 
“Ernst Ligteringen con su sencillez y humildad, características de un verdadero Líder; motivo a muchas personas directivas de empresas a que iniciaran un camino claro y honesto en la comunicación de sus acciones de sostenibilidad. Sus enseñanzas y recomendaciones para hacer de los informes de sostenibilidad un documento real y transparente de lo bueno y lo malo que hacemos las empresas en nuestro accionar diario. A él gracias por sus enseñanzas, deja un registro muy alto de su gestión que nos obliga a continuar con su legado y a promover la real sostenibilidad de nuestro planeta.”
Luis Fernando Ramírez C.
Presidencia Clan Empresarial


 
 
"Dear Maria Jose, children and grandchildren,
Ernst was a good friend, although we only had few opportunities of meeting and exchanging thoughts about sustainable businesses, the evolution of the world's economy, and life in general. He was member of Ethos Institute International Advising Board, and attended gracefully and intently our meetings either in São Paulo or in Rio. His contributions to Ethos were significant, we owe him a lot.
He will certainly be missed, most certainly by you, but also by the many of us who engaged in this same effort to leave a better world for generations to come.
Ernst was a gentleman, my colleagues and I, at Ethos, will miss him a lot."
Sergio Mindlin
Board Member Ethos Institute; Former Chairman
 

 
"Ernst always had a smile on his face. A very kind and noble man. His warmth was felt with every interaction you had with him.
Descansa en Paz, Ernesto. In Cali, we will remember you."
Carlos H. Becerra
Cali, Colombia
 

 
"I was very sad to learn the terrible news of the death of our friend Ernst. I want to emphasize that he was an honest and brilliant man. He was a key leader for the development of GRI and sustainability reporting worldwide. I had few opportunities to debate with him about sustainability reporting, but I learnt a lot. His ideas were strong and outstanding, and always contributed to the improvement of corporate reporting.
Rest in peace, Descansa en Paz,  Ernst,te recordamos en Zaragoza"
Jose M. Moneva
Dean, University of Zaragoza (Spain)

 

"Ernst embodied the kind of humane and inclusive leadership that is the essence of sustainable development. He was a strong and kind leader, with great insight. He leaves a powerful legacy, and yet has left us far too soon. Ernst was justifiably proud of what GRI accomplished through his leadership. The last time I saw Ernst, he was as focused on being a grandparent as he was on GRI…and that is a memory I will hold onto. I am proud to have been able to call him both a colleague and a friend, and I send my deepest sympathies to Maria Jose and his family."
Aron Cramer
President and CEO, BSR 
 
 
"I’m not used to writing these type of messages; however with this uncomfortable news, I’m feeling a compulsion to say how warm Ernst made us feel each time he was around. That is the quality of a great leader, a kind person devoted to improve our world through personal and business behavior. We owe him very much, because this challenging conversation about the future we want, had a thrust due to GRI’s teamwork. Thank you Ernst, and thank you all for keeping the purpose alive and spreading."
Andrés Romero Cortina
Sustainability Advisor
 

 
"Please accept my sincere sympathy.
I am nostalgic about what we met at the board of GRI until 2006.
We would like to contribute to the improvement of disclosure of sustainability information in Japan.
May his soul rest in peace."
Toshihiko Goto
CEO, Sustainability Forum Japan 

 

 
"Very sad news of the sudden death of Ernst, with whom I have worked over more than a decade and admired his abiliy to move GRI in many positive directions, leading his Team successfully to create the world’s best non-financial Standards.  A particular reminiscence was some 18 months ago when we attended a UNGC conference in Seoul and he was in his usual good spirits and sense of humour. We will miss his experience and ongoing contribution to the world of sustainability reporting.  May we work hard on improved reporting to honour his memory and life’s work."
Jermyn Brooks
Chair, Business Advisory Board, Transparency International
 
 

 
"The door was half-open and we caught our first glimpse of him in that old house beside the canal, surrounded by those pioneers that had moved just a few weeks earlier from the Boston office to Amsterdam. Somebody whispered to us, “he’s the new director. Today’s his first day.”
Broad of smile, elegant of manner and subtle of mind; he was very soon a friend.
Running GRI cannot have been easy, not even back in those early days when non-financial reporting was marginal and its advocates had to let their brainchild learn to fend for itself. Nor is it an easy task now that it has become a key aspect of corporate transparency, and everybody has an opinion on the matter.
Time has shown that with his calm and thoughtful leadership, in the good times and not so good times, he was outstanding.
We will miss someone who knew how to bring people together, who taught us that when it comes to what really matters, it is not a question of seeing in order to believe, but of believing in order to see. For many years his vision allowed us all to share the same belief.
José Luis Blasco
Partner at KPMG
 
"Dear Ernst,
In this tough moment I fell sad and grateful at the same time.
Sad, to miss your advises, your thoughts, your serenity  and more important, your friendship.
And I am also grateful to had the opportunity to know you and to be inspired by you.
Wherever you are now, you will be always in my memories."
Alessandro Carlucci
BSR Chairman


 
"Ernst has left an enviable legacy, one that would make anyone proud. I am hopeful that this provides some measure of comfort to his family and all who knew him. He dedicated his life to doing good and making the world a better place. And Ernst did that. And he did it on a global scale.
Beyond the accomplishments is the man. In the days since his death I have heard numerous anecdotes about Ernst from my colleagues, who worked with him over the years. One thing shines through in all of these stories: Ernst was a gentleman with a kind soul. He will be missed."
Excerpt from GRI Chief Executive Tim Mohin's blog: Ernst Ligteringen's Legacy