- Material Pillars
- GRI & Assurance
Material Pillars - Responsibility towards the natural environment - Managing our direct environmental impacts
Sanlam Sustainability Report 2011
Managing our direct environmental impacts
We are committed to reducing the direct environmental impacts associated with our core business activities. These direct impacts are primarily associated with the energy and resource usage at our offices, and through employee travel. We also recognise the significance of the secondary environmental impacts associated with our portfolio of investment properties, the businesses we invest in and finance, and our suppliers' business operations. As we strive to position ourselves as a leader in environmental sustainability in the South African financial services industry, we will seek to use our influence to raise levels of awareness amongst our clients, employees, business partners and other stakeholders on environmental management procedures.
This year we further developed our group environmental policy and environmental management structures. Our Group Environment and Sustainability Committee – established in early 2010 with representatives from all units, and mandated to drive internal environmental sustainability within the Group – is achieving increasing impact in promoting and integrating environmental initiatives within the business. The Environment and Sustainability Committee, which reports to the Board Social, Ethics and Sustainability Committee through Exco, coordinated a consultative process to refine the existing Group environmental policy to ensure its applicability to all the different business areas and to instil commitment from all units to implement the policy. The Sanlam Board of Directors, through the Board Social, Ethics and Sustainability Committee and Exco, have all endorsed the new policy. We recently completed a process of developing a Group SMF, assisted by external consultants, to establish a broader dashboard covering a range of business sustainability and environmental key performance indicators. This process, which included workshops with all business units, will lead to the development of a sustainability dashboard that will be finalised early next year. In 2012 we will continue to rollout improved environmental performance measurement systems to more buildings, and we will start to implement bigger projects; currently the focus is on setting priorities and introducing pilot projects.
Committing to performance targets
A key achievement this year was reaching agreement on new performance targets for energy and water consumption and waste generation. A pragmatic approach was taken to define these targets, including a benchmarking exercise from similar industries. The new targets (see box) were approved by the Environment and Sustainability Committee in March 2011, and adopted in June 2011. These targets apply to all Sanlam business units and are being supported with education and awareness campaigns among staff, to ensure good environmental practice.
Introducing improved measurement and reporting systems has been a major focus this year, enabling a more informed, coordinated and strategic approach to identifying and responding to our environmental priorities. We are committed to continuously improving our environmental monitoring procedures across the business, in alignment with generally accepted reporting standards.
- Ian Erlank, Facilities Manager
Recognising the importance of behavioural change as a means of achieving our targets, we have focused our efforts on communication and engagement with our staff. Raising levels of awareness and understanding has also assisted us in prioritising our initiatives. We also seek to encourage our supplier network to adopt best environmental practices. To this end, this year we finalised a new procurement policy that includes reference to the requirement for selecting suppliers with a good environmental track record. We are also currently reviewing our approach to property acquisition. In addition to the rental component of costs, we will consider resource demands, and potential to minimise these.
Our long-standing partnership with the WWF and its Living Waters unit has driven the business towards better environmental stewardship in many aspects. This year a new partnership agreement for the next three years has been signed. This includes provision for joint research into water issues affecting the business and society, implementation of water-efficient practices, research into the development of products that address risks associated with water, and the identification of sustainable solutions for insurance and investments affected by water issues.