Time flies. All too quickly, perhaps. And 365 days have gone by since the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were defined in September 2015. On that day, Ban Ki-moon addressed all businesses and said: “I personally ask you all to spring into action”.
And indeed all companies have an important role to play on the road to a better world for all. Not only because of the financial resources handled, but also because a company is made up of people, in our case over 90,000, who share and act accordingly (the famous word of mouth), society’s great mobilising force. But also because our work processes have a direct impact on communities, on the environment, on the economy. So after the SDGs were launched that day in September, we took them home with us and integrated them into the company’s strategic plan to raise awareness and work towards achieving them. What is clear to us is that we cannot act on the margins of society.
How have we integrated the Sustainable Development Goals?
With this mission in mind, Ferrovial is working on a new strategic plan for Corporate Responsibility in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. We call it Plan 20.19, and it covers years 2017, 2018 and 2019. We want to play a relevant part in the new Sustainable Development Agenda.
Why must we support this Agenda?
Although taking the SDGs into account in our strategy is something we have done voluntarily, we are convinced that companies who fail to do this will get left behind, their reputation will be affected and they will lose valuable business opportunities.
We must also be aware that Ferrovial is affected on two issues:
- Population growth projections and concentration of the population in cities:
According to the UN, by 2045 more than 6 billion people will live in large cities. This trend will contribute to an increase in the demand for new social and transport infrastructure, as well as in the demand of services to counter challenges such as traffic congestion or environmental sustainability.
- Climate change due to CO2 emissions has a direct impact on our business. Today we know that people mobility generate close to 25% of total global emissions. On the other hand, cities and buildings generate more than 30% of global GHG emissions. So when infrastructures, of whatever type, are developed today, it becomes increasingly necessary to provide sustainable environmental solutions, such as energy efficiency measures.
What goals are we looking at specifically?
Within our sector (infrastructures and services provision to cities) there is plenty of leverage for contributing to the new Development Agenda and promoting better living conditions for society as a whole.
Our intention, however, is to concentrate on the Sustainable Development Goals associated to our core business, although we know that our activities indirectly cross-cut all 17 SDGs.
We have therefore focused on the three following sustainable development goals:
- SDG 6. Clean water and sanitation
- SDG 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure.
- SDG 11. Sustainable cities and communities.
This context will set the trend for the path we need to take, essentially to offer sustainable solutions with a high innovation component, after taking into account all social and environmental impacts demanded by our focus groups. So there are several specific actions that we must take over the next three years:
- Boost uptake of renewable energy and purchase of “green” products.
- Make a public commitment on reducing relative emissions by 35,41% by 2020.
- Implement a methodology for measuring our Water Footprint, and offsetting our water consumption with social development projects in Latin America and Africa.
- Search for solutions to improve standards of living in large cities.
Ferrovial as an equal partner at the UN
We have become an equal partner at the UN in this new development agenda. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has chosen Ferrovial as a member of an advisory council formed by 13 businesses from around the world.
It is a great honour for us, but especially an enormous responsibility. Our aim and that of the advisory council is to look for the best ways of integrating the SDGs into private sector strategies and encouraging new companies to contribute to this new challenge.
1,095 days to go
Ferrovial has 1,095 days in which to gain strength and implement activities aimed at helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. We count on the efforts of each and every one of our staff members, and we will be aware and consistent in all our work processes.
This is a new opportunity for improving the sector in which we work, our society and the environment, through renewable energy, sustainable raw materials, a greater commitment to emissions reduction, or ongoing support to NGO social projects.
Three years in which to continue walking hand in hand with the United Nations.