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Note 3: Stakeholder engagement

Our approach

The aim of our stakeholder engagement is to learn from key financial, social and environmental stakeholder groups and in collaboration to develop leading sustainability solutions relevant to:

  • Our stakeholder needs
  • Implementation of strategic ambitions
  • Management of risks and opportunities

Our key stakeholders are employees, customers, suppliers, investors, communities, specific sustainability/research organizations and NGOs. This section includes some highlights. There are more details in the Strategy and other sections of this report:

Stakeholder engagement in 2012

Our commitment and primary partners

We support a number of charters and external organizations to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability issues.

These include the UN Global Compact – where we are also an active member of the network in the Netherlands – the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Responsible Care® Global Charter and the CEO Water Mandate, where we are represented on the steering group. As part of a joint PRI-UN Global Compact initiative designed to improve company-investor communications on ESG information, AkzoNobel is hosting one of the pilot presentations designed to test and refine the ESG Investor Briefing concept.

2020 strategy development

We received input from customers, suppliers, employees and NGOs during the development of our strategy.

Product-related partnerships

We have some notable NGO partnerships linked to product areas. Through the Amsterdam Initiative on Malnutrition (AIM), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the project Smarter Futures, our Ferrazone iron fortificant is making an important contribution to the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. Activities during 2012 included support for the GAIN Netherlands office and the AIM secretariat, as well as participation in a cassava fortification project and QC/QA laboratories. The winners of the internal AkzoNobel Sustainability Award contributed their prize money to Smarter Futures to develop an instrument which can monitor the amount of Ferrazone in wheat/flour – important for the future development of this application.

Following our 2010 partnership agreement with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), we have set up a central fund to support the FSC’s work in increasing the supply of FSC-certified products. We are also rolling out local partnership agreements between our consumer woodcare brands and the FSC’s national offices to promote awareness of the FSC and the use of wood and paper from sustainably-managed forests. We have eight active partnerships in the Netherlands, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Brazil, Russia and the Nordics. In 2013, we will also set up local partnerships in Poland, Belgium, Argentina and Canada. In Brazil, the program has included communication to the sales team, clients and consumers, training for painters and sales clerks, as well as involvement in FSC Friday and the smallholders certification program.

Employee engagement

During 2012, we held our first Global Sustainability Day, engaging employees from around the world on the theme: If sustainability is the answer, what is the question? Employees were encouraged to get involved and ask questions via a range of activities including site/team meetings, community activities, exhibitions at more than 50 sites, a special CEO video and live Q&A sessions with company experts. The questions were focused on six areas (customers, strategy, environment, community, products and suppliers). This initiative helped to build on a range of other activities where employees are setting the local agenda and driving improvement, for example through local green teams and community activities around the world.

Customers and suppliers

Involvement of customers and suppliers is crucial to our value chain approach to sustainability. We encourage customers to challenge us and work with us on more sustainable product propositions. There are many specific examples in the case studies and Business performance section of this Report. Our key supplier contracts include sustainability aspects and we have had detailed discussions to identify joint development areas with some of our biggest suppliers during the year. One specific project is a detailed review of titanium dioxide with value chain partners to identify joint improvement opportunities.

Shareholders and analysts

We continued to develop engagement with shareholders on sustainability aspects by taking part in five conferences during the year, as well as answering questions in telephone briefings and questionnaires. Questions during 2012 continued to focus on financial benefits from sustainability activity and solutions for customers, raw materials supply, carbon policy and specialist topics, for example nanotechnology. Sustainability aspects of business are also included in many analyst and general shareholder presentations.

See also the AkzoNobel on the capital markets chapter in the Governance and compliance section.

Supporting our development areas

We continue to develop our biodiversity priorities working with the IUCN Leaders for Nature Inspirational Programme on Ecosystems and Young Leaders for Nature program in the Netherlands. Current focus is to identify “hot spots” in some of our key value chains, to identify a quick scan process which could be integrated with other environmental assessments and to develop case studies to raise awareness.

To help us further develop reporting and transparency, AkzoNobel is one of more than 80 pilot companies in the International Integrated Reporting Council program to create a forward-looking company reporting framework.

Developing good practice

In the field of carbon management we co-chair the WBCSD Chemicals Sector Working Group. Together with peers, we have developed chemicals sector guidelines to drive consistent reporting of Scope 1 and 2, as well as Scope 3 up and downstream emissions. The current focus is to explore how we can best address so-called avoided or Scope 4 emissions – the emissions avoided by the use of our products through, for example, energy or resource efficiency improvements.

To enhance the importance and development of sustainable value chains, we again supported the organization of the International Supply Management Congress in Amsterdam. This was a joint initiative with ADC Performance Improvement, IDH (the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative), KPMG, NEVI (Dutch knowledge network for purchasing and supply management), Rabobank, Shell and Unilever. The event is a meeting point for sharing knowledge, experience and best practices across supply chain professionals, NGOs and thought leaders. The focus for 2012 was creating scale through pre-competitive cooperation: Experience the impact of supply chains.

Indices and recognition

During 2012, we achieved a number one position on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index in the Chemicals supersector. We continued to be included in the FTSE4Good index and to take part in the Carbon Disclosure project. We were also one of three chemical companies given “prime” status in the Oekom investment universe. In the Netherlands, we were shortlisted in the Transparency benchmark (top three).

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