Alongside act4nature international, ENGIE is committed to reinforcing its CSR objectives in favour of the climate and biodiversity. Hervé Casterman, Environment Director at ENGIE, explains these commitments, their implications for the Group’s CSR policy, and their expected results.
Hervé Casterman, Environment Director at ENGIE
Hervé Casterman: Our action for biodiversity actually began way before, because ENGIE has been committed to the issue since 2009; first, setting guidelines and then making an initial commitment to France’s National Biodiversity Strategy in 2011. In 2018, on the strength of this experience, our company was one of the 65 signatories of act4nature, an Entreprises pour l’Environnement (EpE) initiative. We immediately signed up to the programme’s ten common commitments, which we completed with our own individual commitments with fixed and measurable goals, results of which were recorded in 2020. Today, the Group is going one step further through its twofold commitment to act4nature international (EpE) and Entreprises Engagées pour la Nature-act4nature France (French Ministry of the Ecological Transition). Both initiatives share the same ten common commitments and encourage their signatories to add individual commitments. With this new step, ENGIE is expanding its commitment by setting out a new 2020-2030 roadmap with goals that apply to all the Group’s activities in France and abroad, with updates planned in 2025.
"With this new step, ENGIE is expanding its commitment by setting out a new 2020-2030 roadmap with goals that apply to all the Group’s activities in France and abroad, with updates planned in 2025."
HC: Our activities are in constant interaction with natural ecosystems, particularly when it comes to developing renewable energy sources. We also benefit from nature’s resources, and must protect them so that everyone can continue to benefit. In the United States, for example, greening is a standard element in the design of ground-based solar parks, providing a favourable ecosystem for pollinators, birds and wildlife, and preventing soil erosion. Through this constant interaction, work on our industrial plants is likely to modify ecosystems. For example, our plants’ footprints may cause interruptions in ecological continuity. Other potential impacts include greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution caused by certain activities. These impacts are measured and must be first avoided, then reduced, or otherwise offset, in that order. For example, on our hydroelectric plants in France we protect ecological continuity in watercourses by enabling the passage of fish through fish ways, eel ramps and even the first ever fish lift in France!
HC: Firstly, these commitments are one of the many achievements of our new corporate purpose. They set us on the right path to adopting a more virtuous environmental management approach at our facilities, by implementing integrated management of our plants’ environmental issues. Practically speaking, in terms of biodiversity this means that, at a minimum, we use no chemical phytosanitary products, we identify the protected areas1 close to our plants, and we work with stakeholders to define actions to minimise our impact, or even, where possible, transform it into a positive impact. This also means that we commit to applying the sequence “avoid, reduce, offset” worldwide. These commitments also drive the Group’s CSR policy because biodiversity is an issue that mobilises all our employees. This integrated and concerted approach to environmental management, and especially our actions to protect biodiversity, encourage dialogue with local stakeholders and, ultimately, help to integrate our activities more harmoniously within their regions.
HC: They are actions that work with and enhance nature. They enable us to restore biodiversity and meet major societal challenges such as how we adapt to the effects of climate change. Healthy, resilient, functional and diverse ecosystems provide many services and can help us develop solutions that benefit our societies and biodiversity, as global changes occur. These nature-based solutions are governed by a standard developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
1. Areas that are currently considered to be protected are Natura 2000 and Ramsar zones, Unesco sites (natural and mixed), and IUCN categories I to IV. In 2021, IUCN categories V and VI will be added, as well as important zones for birds and key biodiversity sites.