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Corporate responsibility and new projects

26 Nov, 2011

It is impossible to develop new power projects without impacting their surroundings. This makes it important to have good standards to ensure that e development of new projects is as responsible as possible.

Corporate responsibility (CR) is about the principles in connection with the social and environmental impact of our activities, both in the project phase and operation. For more than a century, Statkraft has worked under Norwegian standards, but what happens when we carry out projects abroad? Do the same principles apply?

“In the past decade a vast number of standards have been developed to safeguard social and environmental considerations in connection with major developments, both in the industry and with major lenders, such as the World Bank,” says Senior Advisor in the CR and HSE department, Rachel Groux Nürnberg in Statkraft. “We support these international standards, rather than developing our own.”

Universally recognised

According to Statkraft’s Code of conduct, the company must not only operate in accordance with applicable Norwegian laws and regulations, but also comply with applicable laws and regulations in the country where the company operates. In addition, it is Statkraft policy to comply with relevant international conventions and guidelines. Some of the standards are general and address universal issues. The best example is the UN Global Compact, which comprises ten principles on human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption. Statkraft is a member, along with 8 000 companies in 130 countries. The UN Global Compact was launched by Kofi Annan in 1999. He saw a need for focus on the most important areas that companies need to be aware of, as the many UN conventions and organisations can be perceived as confusing.

Child labour, corruption

The UN Global Compact addresses all violations of human rights. At the core are avoiding discrimination of employees, child labour, corruption and prevention in terms of the environment. Another set of standards that Statkraft uses is the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which is founded on many of the same principles. With activities in a number of the world’s regions, Statkraft encounters challenges in all areas addressed by these standards.

“Our new projects in Turkey, Albania and Laos for instance, face a number of challenges that illustrate the need for such standards,” says Groux Nürnberg. “This could be environmental considerations, the relationship with the local communities in the area where the development is taking place, transparency in tenders or health and safety at the construction site. This is also rooted in our own history in Norway.”

Major developments get more specific

There are also more specific guidelines detailing the various phases of Statkraft’s major development projects.
“The most important standards in this regard are the ones developed by the International Finance Corporation, a part of the World Bank, and the industry association, International Hydropower Association. There are specific requirements for how to handle social and environmental impacts of the projects with emphasis on sound impact studies and clear plans for compensation and improvements.”

Good starting point

Groux Nürnberg believes these standards and key performance indicators provide a very good starting point for Statkraft to be able to carry out sustainable projects.

“In our work with Statkraft’s investment decision system, we are focusing on integrating the international expectations in our own system. This makes it easy for project managers and others involved in new power projects.”
The Government has considerable expectations in terms of corporate responsibility and sustainability. This is evident in the new Government White Paper on Ownership which dedicates quite a lot of space to the issue. The White Paper also encourages companies to support international standards rather than to develop their own.

“Since these international standards contain universally recognised principles, they are very good tools to make our cooperation with partners and those impacted by the project go as smoothly as possible", Rachel Groux Nürnberg says.