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Despite the current crisis, ACCIONA confirms its commitment to sustainability


Using the Triple Bottom Line, ACCIONA has applied economic, social and environmental criteria to weigh up performance in 2008.

The Company has taken new steps towards introducing new specific strategies in Poland, USA, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Brazil, and has included Australia to this list of countries.

In 2008 ACCIONA activities and business avoided the net emission of 5.6 million tonnes of CO2 into the Earth's atmosphere, a 17% improvement on 2007.

Using the Triple Bottom Line, ACCIONA has applied economic, social and environmental criteria to weigh up performance in 2008.

The Company has taken new steps towards introducing new specific strategies in Poland, USA, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Brazil, and has included Australia to this list of countries.

In 2008 ACCIONA activities and business avoided the net emission of 5.6 million tonnes of CO2 into the Earth's atmosphere, a 17% improvement on 2007.

22-06-2009 inglésACCIONA has confirmed the commitments and objectives to sustainability that it took on when it introduced, in 2005, its corporate claim "Pioneers in development and sustainability". To make this commitment absolutely clear, for the first time ever the Company has adapted its Annual Report (2008) to the philosophy of the Triple Bottom Line: economic, social and environmental.

As ACCIONA's General Manager of Marketing and Corporate Responsibility, Juan Ramón Silva, points out, "our move to the Triple Bottom Line symbolizes a transformation, a shift towards a new type of company, firmly grounded on the principles of sustainability: there's no going back, even in the current global economic downturn. Less than a decade ago, ACCIONA was one of Spain's leading construction companies. Today we are a global leader in the development, production and management of renewable energies, water services and infrastructure, three of the basic pillars of economic, social and environmental development".

Silva adds: "In these times of crisis, those companies that see Corporate Responsibility [CR] merely as one more component of their marketing mix will be forced to trim their budgets. On the other hand, other companies, such as ACCIONA, where Corporate Responsibility is a fully integrated element of the business model, will continue to forge ahead with their CR policies because it is the only way to stimulate economic growth anywhere in the world".

Exporting sustainability

ACCIONA's renewed commitment to sustainability does not stop at its adherence to the Triple Bottom Line: it is also clear in the gradual internationalisation of the Company's sustainability strategy. In 2008, ACCIONA set about introducing specific sustainability policies overseas. Six key markets for international expansion were chosen: USA, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Brazil and Poland. Australia, where ACCIONA  is making rapid and intense headway - was added at a later stage.

Earlier, in 2007, ACCIONA had analysed and identified the social and environmental agendas of these countries. As part of its prospection efforts the Company detected the expectations of the different stakeholders with regard to ACCIONA's activities, which are centred on three fundamental aspects of sustainable development: infrastructure, energy and water. The findings provided the basis for Country Plans that address the following issues and needs:

  • Contribution to greater quality of life using less natural resources
  • A strategy on climate footprint and the fight against climate change
  • Dialogue and social cooperation
  • Security
  • Innovation at the service of people and their surroundings.

The environmental dimension: The war on climate change

A look at ACCIONA's objectives and achievements in the environmental dimension of the Triple Bottom Line reveals the extent to which the Company is persevering in what it clearly acknowledges as a major challenge: to fight climate change by leading from the front in the transition towards a low-carbon economy, which has led ACCIONA to monitor and measure its progress in avoiding CO2 emissions produced by the Company's overall activities.

Subsequently, as the Company's latest Annual Report explains, in 2008 ACCIONA'S ongoing operations in infrastructure, energy and water avoided the net emission of 5.6 million tonnes of C02 into the Earth's atmosphere, a 17 % improvement on 2007.

Two concurrent initiatives have helped to bring this about: the Energy Efficiency Plan (2007-2009) and the Environmental Efficiency Plan (2008-2012), both of which pursue the double objective of bringing down CO2 emissions and raising awareness among employees and society at large. For the third year running, the Environmental Efficiency Plan includes the introduction of the "Energy savings, Casual attire and Sustainability" Plan for summer 2009. The latter involves setting air-conditioning in Company offices at 23ºC-24ºC - one or two degrees more than usual for this time of the year - and encouraging staff to dress more casually and comfortably. The ultimate aim of this initiative is to save energy and avoid C02 emissions. In 2008, and in those parts of the Company where these measures were applied, ACCIONA obtained an average 8.5% saving in air-conditioning electrical consumption. At the Company's Head Office, in Madrid, the Plan saved 55,000 KWh, equivalent to avoiding the emission of 20.6 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere in a year, which is the same as the amount avoided each year by 1,720 trees, the electrical consumption of 21 households or walking to work instead of 5,370 trips by car.

The environmental dimension is a permanent and indispensable feature of all ACCIONA activities and is particularly evident in the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) that the Company promotes. In 2008, ACCIONA registered two CDM in India, with a total capacity of 30MW, which will avoid the emission of 88,240 tonnes of CO2; and a third in South Korea (61.5 MW) which will avoid the emission of 1.11 million tonnes of CO2 over a ten-year period (112,812 tonnes a year). This will make ACCIONA one of the Spanish companies that most uses this tool, which came into existence as part of the Kyoto Protocol. The fact that the Annual Report has now gone online and is entirely digital, replacing the traditional print version, is a further step down the same road. Thanks to this change in format, 11 tonnes of paper have been saved and 167 trees have not been felled.

The economic and social dimensions

R&D is one of the most noteworthy sections of the 2008 balance sheet: 71.3 million euros in investments, 83% more than in 2007, making ACCIONA one of Spain's leading innovators. Landmark achievements in 2008 included the opening of two new laboratories (specialising in Robotics and Virtual Reality) at the Company's Technological Centre in Madrid and the launch of the first Masters degree course in Nanotechnology.

As regards the social dimension, one of the main events in 2008 was the equal opportunities audit carried out in all ACCIONA business lines. In this same sphere, the Company opened a number of lines of dialogue and cooperation with stakeholders. In this respect, shortly ACCIONA will extend the scope of the so-called "Sustainability Workshop" which is already functioning in a number of Spanish Autonomous Regions. The Workshop sets out to educate for and raise awareness of sustainability in schools in Spain and in ten other countries.

Global benchmarks

Recognition of ACCIONA's capacity as a leading international force in sustainability came in 2007 when the Company was included - as global sector leader - in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In 2008, the Company went a step further and enhanced its position by achieving the highest possible qualification, Gold Class, thus joining a select group made up of only eighty companies worldwide.

ACCIONA is also to be found among the World Economic Forum's Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World, as announced in February 2008 at the Forum's annual summit in Davos, Switzerland, and confirmed earlier this year.

It is also worth noting that in April 2009 ACCIONA was honoured with the European Corporate Responsibility Award by the European Business Award Organisation, an independent initiative that recognizes and celebrates corporate excellence in the 27 member nations of the European Union. In particular, the Awards take into account factors such as success, innovation and corporate ethics.

The continuity of the Committee of Experts

For the third year running, ACCIONA offered itself voluntarily for analysis and control by an Independent Committee of Experts whose task it is to provide an outside opinion on whether the Annual Report has enough information, and of the required quality, on the issues that the Committee members deem to be of greatest interest to stakeholders and other social agents that interact with the Company.

To achieve this aim, at the same time as the Annual Report is being drafted, the Committee draws up independently and according to its own criteria a closed list of questions for management, and issues a report containing the questions and an assessment of the responses provided: this assessment is fundamental for the collective opinion of the committee members.

The Annual Report includes the Committee's findings. On the basis of those findings, in 2007 and 2008 ACCIONA introduced improvements on a variety of specific aspects of the Company's sustainability strategy, such as the generation of information on the environmental impact of infrastructure projects in other countries.

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