2015 was a busy year for Boskalis, both in operational terms and with regard to CSR. During the past year we once again worked hard on improving our sustainability performance and made progress in a range of areas.
Focus on materiality
Our company has grown strongly in the past few years, both organically and through acquisitions. Under increasingly complex circumstances we are asked as a partner to ‘push back boundaries’ for our clients, also in sensitive areas or in remote locations of the world. We are seeing growing interest in the topic of CSR among our stakeholders, across the board. Given this, there is a demand and a need to set priorities and create focus in our CSR strategy.
In 2015 we conducted a first materiality analysis, incorporating input from around 70 important stakeholders. We consider sustainable profitability to be a key prerequisite for the continuity of Boskalis. The analysis resulted in four CSR key topics being established: our impact on local communities, our impact on the environment and the natural surroundings, care for human capital and responsible business conduct. These topics together with a multitude of sub-topics form the backbone of our CSR policy. They have also been incorporated in our strategy and our reporting structure.
Taking responsibility in the supply chain
Boskalis wants to remain a frontrunner and to do business with partners and clients who act with responsibility and integrity. Supply chain management is crucial in this respect. We operate a code of conduct for our suppliers in the supply chain and perform an annual implementation scan to monitor their compliance. In 2015 we once again extended the scope of the scan, visiting suppliers in Southeast Asia, the United States and the Middle East. We also increased the number of visits paid to second-line suppliers. Innovation and improving the sustainability of the supply chain is very important to us. Last year we specifically followed up on two initiatives which came out of the Meet the Buyer sessions organized in 2014. One concerns further research into an oil-cleaning system on board of our ships and the other is biofuel program.
The Paris agreement
The COP21 climate conference in December 2015 culminated in the Paris Agreement, which contains commitments concerning the impact of climate change and how this can be mitigated by limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
Although the shipping sector is excluded from these commitments to limit emissions, we do not believe that this gives the maritime sector carte blanche to disregard the spirit of the agreement. We take our responsibility by also taking the initiative to look into (innovative) ways of reducing the emissions produced by our equipment. The biofuel pilot program is aimed at the development of a drop-in marine biofuel that will meet the most stringent sustainability standards and could result in significant reductions in emissions.
In addition our core business enables us to provide adaptive and mitigating solutions for the impact of climate change. Through our coastal defense and riverbank protection activities we are able to help countries adapt to the growing risk of flooding. Our wind farm activities allow us to contribute to a more rapid transition to renewable energy. In 2015 we performed a great deal of work on the preparations for constructing the Wikinger offshore wind farm and in late 2015 we started work on the massive Veja Mate offshore wind farm in the German section of the North Sea.
Our Building with Nature approach plays an essential part in the projects we realize. In designing a project we take the natural system as our starting point and at the same time apply the principles of the circular economy. For example, wherever possible we use natural, renewable materials such as sand and mangroves for our coastal defense and riverbank protection activities. In 2015 we acquired the Marker Wadden, a large-scale nature restoration and creation project. The project will transform the ecologically impoverished Markermeer lake into a dynamic area with a rich animal and plant life. In 2016 Boskalis will install six artificial reef modules at the Larvotto underwater reserve in Monaco. The reefs consist of sand, were made using a 3D printer and will be used to improve the ecology and the quality of the seawater at the reserve. The idea for this pilot project was the award-winning initiative in the Boskalis Innovation Challenge.
Care for the human capital
Constant innovation is crucial to Boskalis’ future and the input of our employees is an essential part of this. Our open business culture enables our employees to develop their talents as well as providing scope for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Safety is a license to operate for Boskalis. Since the introduction of our NINA safety program injury frequency has fallen significantly, from 0.67 in 2010 to 0.08 in 2015.
This report and the materiality analysis represent an important step for us towards the GRI G4 guidelines. We have also achieved our objective of having all the KPIs in this report verified by an independent auditor.
Along with 2015 we conclude a period of exceptional growth and success, and prepare for a period of stagnation and rationalization, governed by low oil prices and a decline in the global demand for commodities. This period will require us to stay sharp and innovative if we are to take advantage of opportunities in a competitive market and achieve lasting success. The CSR business case will remain a key part of our operations in this respect. With a large diversified fleet of vessels, a very sound financial position and, above all, highly committed and passionate employees we are well placed to take advantage of these opportunities.
Any suggestions you may have for improving our CSR policy and the way we report on it are greatly appreciated and we are happy to engage with you on this subject.
On behalf of the Board of Management