A clear business case for sustainability
DP World is known for being a front runner in the industry with its commitment to sustainability Kathryn Beaven, DP World’s Director of Global Sustainability talks to Anne-Marie Causer about the latest projects the operator is spearheading to grow a stronger business and minimise its impact to the environment.
What is DP World's overarching attitude to sustainability and what is its green business strategy?
DP World believes that working in a sustainable and responsible way is essential to building a strong business for our customers, our people and our society.
Our World, Our Future is our global programme to bring sustainability into every aspect of our work. As part of this programme we have commitments under four different areas: The environment, our people, safety, and society.
The environment is one of our core commitments, and we minimise our impact by aiming to better manage natural resources and emissions. We are proactive about preventing pollution, and also take an industry leading position on environmental policy and practice.
We continually look for ways to innovate and improve across all of our sustainability commitments. We are dedicated to sharing what we do with our customers, suppliers and partners to encourage sustainable practice.
Can you tell us about some of the ground-breaking sustainability projects DP World is conducting in its operations around the world?
We have a huge variety of programmes taking place across the world, at both a global and local level.
One of our major global projects is our involvement in United for Wildlife’s Transport Taskforce, a collaboration bringing together over 40 of the world’s leading wildlife organisations and transport businesses to tackle the illegal wildlife trade.
As part of this we have signed up to 11 commitments to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, covering a range of initiatives including awareness raising, information sharing, detection and practical measures. For example, we provide training for employees on how to spot the signs of smuggling wildlife, and have set up a whistle-blowing service for those who want to report suspicious activity in confidence.
We are also passionate about education and helping develop a talent pipeline for our sector. With 90% of all goods and freight around the world shipped, it is important to engage young people in this crucial sector and raise awareness of the broad employment opportunities.
So, we developed our flagship Global Education Programme in which our employees volunteer their time to deliver educational programmes on trade and logistics to eight to 14 year-olds in schools around the world. Modules improve children’s specific skills, such as numeracy, and increase their knowledge of sustainability and careers in the global trade and logistics industry. Since launching, almost 400 employee volunteers have donated their time and energy to get involved in the Global Education Programme, helping more than 10,000 students across 14 countries.
In addition, we’re committed to educating school children on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through our partnership with IMPACT2030, a business sector led initiative focused on mobilising employees to achieve the SDGs.
As part of the IMPACT2030 partnership, we’ve helped pilot the ‘World’s Largest Lesson’, which places employee volunteers in classrooms around the world to help children learn about the SDGs. Our employee volunteers introduced children to the SDGs in an accessible and stimulating way, with 92% of the students who took part in the pilot saying they now care more about social and environmental issues. By engaging young people, we can help work towards a sustainable future for all.
We're particularly interested in the solar power projects and electric vehicle possibilities that we've read about more recently. Can you tell us more about those?
As part of our global commitment to working sustainably, we have commissioned what will be the largest distributed solar rooftop project in the Middle East. We are constructing 88,000 rooftop photovoltaic panels on our Dubai facilities. The panels will provide 40% of the total energy consumption of Jafza, one of the world’s largest free trade zones.
The project will have major environmental benefits. Phase one will provide enough clean power for 3,000 homes per year and will result in 22,000 tonnes of carbon being saved annually, equivalent to taking 4,500 cars off the road. In case the massive environmental and social benefits weren’t enough of a draw for those in the ports and logistics industry to commit to solar energy, it also has positive business implications. Both DP World and Jebel Ali Free Zone, co-owner of the scheme, will benefit from a reduction in energy bills and will also be protected from rising electricity costs in the future.
We are committed to continuing to investigate the most sustainable ways to operate our business around the world. This includes the use of renewable energy and exploring options like the use of electric vehicles.
Where is the main focus for DP World when it comes to reducing emissions and making operations more sustainable?
We will focus on reducing the energy output per unit of movement. This can be done by increasing our efficiency while also considering how emission levels of our energy sources; promoting clean energy will increasingly become core to our operations. While running a new port predominately on diesel is the cheapest option, this is only true in the short-term. When considerations are longer term, using renewable solutions means an overall reduction in cost.
Alongside this, we will also consider the methods by which we make efficient and clean energy use possible through innovation and technology. This is a cornerstone of our business today. Thinking big and aiming for the best outcomes is the only way we can tackle issues as vast and daunting as climate change.
Action on these areas is also most successful when done collaboratively. We hope to work with our own supply chains and peers to innovate solutions. We are just a part of the puzzle of global logistics, and eventually, these practices must spread across the whole chain.
Why does it make both environmental and economic sense for an operator to place importance on sustainability?
There is a clear business case for sustainability. We are committed to being world leaders in sustainability and it is as important to us commercially as it is to the societies in which we operate. Sustainability is an essential strategic pillar of our business and it forms part of our new business proposals.
DP World is very much at the heart of the communities in which we operate. We must be a steward in those communities, providing real value which can only happen through a conscious and proactive focus on sustainability.
In addition, customers and prospective employees increasingly want to work for ethically minded companies; those businesses that want to attract and retain the best talent must be sustainable.
More broadly, the results of climate change, like rising sea levels, impact us directly. We simply can’t ignore them – we are currently putting in place infrastructure, such as new port developments, which aim to be there in 50 or 100 years’ time. Even small rises in sea levels have an impact on these projects.
Please tell us about DP World's green business strategy going forward?
DP World will continue our commitment to finding the best and most sustainable ways to do business.
We believe that collaboration is key to this, which is why we are part of initiatives such as Go Green Week. The partnership involves us joining forces with other port operators so that employees can take part in specific green activities tailored to the needs of their local communities, from beach cleaning to tree planting.
We’re looking forward to building on what we’ve achieved so far, finding ways to do more, to do better, and to continue to prove that sustainability is something that matters to everybody.
Are there any new sustainability/green projects on the horizon you can tell us about?
DP World is committed to creating a truly sustainable future in collaboration with our partners.
We will continue to innovate solutions to problems and through Our World Our Future, tackle the issues facing society and the environment.