Contribution to Global Goals (SDGs)
In 2015, the Member States of the United Nations adopted a new global agenda to end poverty, inequality, injustice and climate change by 2030. At the heart of this agenda are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Netherlands has endorsed these global goals for sustainable development. Government, politicians and companies are currently working out their contribution in more concrete detail. Statistics Netherlands reports from time to time on the progress made on the global goals. Energy network operators play an essential role in assuring safe, affordable, and continuous availability of energy as set out in SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy).
Alliander and global goals: influence is key
In 2018, we analysed how Alliander, as a company, can best contribute towards the achievement of the SDGs. Where is our greatest impact and where can we achieve the greatest gains? To this end, we reviewed our operations, core activities, and entire value creation process to ascertain which SDGs best match both our own initiatives, objectives and strategy, and our stakeholders’ expectations. We identified four development goals, which Alliander is focusing on and actively pursuing.
Our contribution to SDGs: impact-driven strategy
The result of this process is recorded in our connectivity matrix, in which the connection between our process of value creation, our material issues, performance, and the SDGs becomes clear. For a more detailed overview of our contribution to the SDGs, see the explanation of the SDGs.
Affordable and clean energy (SDG 7)
Affordable and clean energy is the most important SDG for our company. This goal largely coincides with our mission and strategy. For us, goal 7.1 (ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services) and goal 7.2 (increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix) are especially important. That is why we have linked a number of indicators to these two goals (see also our connectivity matrix) so that we can monitor our progress.
In this report, you can read how we work every day to keep pace with the energy transition by facilitating customer choices, making maximum use of digital opportunities, creating open networks (i.e. efficient markets) and operating efficiently while simultaneously ensuring that we invest smartly and keep costs as low as possible. This has a direct correlation with the economic value of our infrastructure for our customers (manufactured capital) and our chain emissions (natural capital).
Performance in 2019
In 2019, we made progress in the area of the reliability of supply in our own network; we were able to reduce the average outage duration (to 21.9 minutes) for example. The number of cable numbers with more than five interruptions was 17. We have also made agreements with local councils about how we can guide them in the coming years to shape the energy transition. We have also taken steps to identify our impact in relation to SDG 7.
Decent work and economic growth (SDG 8)
We work non-stop on ensuring a safe and fair working environment for all our employees as well as an inclusive corporate culture. Our activities thus contribute to SDG 8.8 (protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments). We want Alliander to reflect a representative cross-section of society, which is why SDG 8.5 (achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value) is crucial for us and why we have launched a number of actions to help us increase our contribution to this goal. We agree arrangements on employees at a distance from the labour market and have set a target for the number of women in leadership positions in our company. This has a direct correlation with the well-being effects for our employees and is included in our impact calculation (human capital).
Performance in 2019
In 2019 we took steps towards achieving our goals relating to SDG 8. We offered 101 apprenticeships to people at a distance from the labour market. The percentage of women in leadership positions has remained relatively stable, i.e. 26.9% at year-end 2019 compared with 27.8% at year-end 2018.
Sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11)
In the Netherlands, municipalities play an important role in the transition to a sustainable energy supply. The agreements in the Regional Energy Strategies and the development of the Dutch Climate Agreement in combination with social initiatives motivate the creation of concrete strategies and district plans. Our task is to assist municipalities in this process and to programme and implement changes as well as possible. By enabling energy feed-in and connecting a growing number of charging points for electric mobility, we are also contributing to the sustainability of our cities, towns and communities. All these actions support the achievement of SDG 11.6 (reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities). These activities have a direct correlation with our chain emissions (natural capital) and the well-being in districts and neighbourhoods (social capital). In 2019, we investigated the effect the introduction of sustainable decentralised generation of energy at local level would have in terms of making the energy supply more sustainable as well as its impact on natural capital. This is detailed in the Key Social Impacts chapter.
Performance in 2019
In 2019, we met with representatives of almost all our municipalities and of numerous housing associations to make agreements about the heating transition, to ensure this can be implemented without negative consequences for citizens.
Responsible consumption and production (SDG 12)
We are acutely aware of the impact of our operations on the planet, which is why we target having climate-neutral and circular business operations, in line with SDG 12.2 (by 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources) and SDG 12.5 (by 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse). We invest in having low grid losses, sustainable buildings, and a clean vehicle fleet. Transparency and circularity are key elements in our procurement process (see the Sustainable business practices section). This has a direct relationship with our ecological and climate change costs (natural capital). This year, we monetised both impacts for the first time.
Performance in 2019
We also made progress in 2019 in making our company more sustainable. For example, in 2019 30% of our primary assets were already purchased in a circular fashion and our carbon footprint decreased by 8%.
Ambitions for the coming years
Serving society is at the heart of our mission and strategy. The energy transition forms a key part of this: we are working on the ‘sustainable tomorrow’. Our operations are in line with this sustainable course, and the global goals form a navigational tool. The further operational integration and implementation of SDGs is fundamental to our mission, as is rigorous monitoring, measurement and reporting to ensure adequate compliance. To keep our focus on achieving the SDG goals, we have linked these to our own goals in the connectivity matrix. We have also agreed on long-term goals, which we will further explain in this chapter.
Affordable and clean energy and sustainable cities and communities (SDG 7 & 11)
We actively contribute to the national Climate Agreement based on our role in the energy transition. Our role in the built-up environment and beyond is changing. But our crucial mission remains to ensure reliable, affordable, accessible and, increasingly, renewable energy. We see opportunities and challenges for the proper regulation of the heating and energy storage market, flex-markets, the technical and regulatory feasibility of smart connections, further system integration, and the prevention of network problems. Via our chain partners, we want to continue making a contribution to a sustainable energy system at low costs.
For 2020, we aim to make agreements with our customers about the heating transition. We believe it is our task to assist municipalities in bringing about the heating transition and to programme and implement changes as well as possible.
Decent work (SDG 8)
Our efforts for SDG 8 (decent work) are aimed at reinforcing and retaining access to work for all groups. Inclusive employment – aimed at diversity, appreciation, division of and access to work, safe conditions and full use of talent – is an important theme for us. We are working on sector-wide arrangements within the infrastructure sector to ensure equal access to the labour market. We aim to be able to offer 100 learning places each year to people who meet the criteria of the Dutch Participation Act or who are at a distance from the labour market. We anticipate that we will be able to meet this goal sooner than agreed. We are also aiming to have women in 33% of leadership positions by 2024.
Responsible consumption and production (SDG 12)
Our economy is entirely modelled along linear lines: take, make, waste. Despite certain shifts, global production still revolves largely around new commodities, mainly from Asia and South America. Owing to reverse logistics and the composition of products, ‘new’ is even cheaper than ‘used’. We also see that scarcity is beginning to arise in materials that are critical to our operations, like copper for example. Another challenge in many production chains is transparency. Within the Green Networks Project, we are working to make the resource passport obligatory in the infrastructure sector by 2020. The accessibility and improvement of materials information in the sector contribute to the circular economy. Regarding energy usage, we see a movement towards the voluntary adoption of carbon pricing among companies and sectors. This applies to many network operators, but the chosen carbon price is still arbitrary. Our ambition is to have a harmonised policy for fair carbon pricing among network operators. For Alliander, our goal is to achieve 100% climate-neutral and circular operations in the company by 2030. To become climate neutral, we want to get our energy exclusively from renewables.
In 2020, we will expand our priority SDGs by two, both of which are an extension of our core activities: SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and SDG 13 (climate action). This will enable us to make even more of a difference.