Ladies and Gentlemen,
The third voestalpine Corporate Responsibility (CR) Report appears at a time of ever-growing concern about the climate, both in meteorological terms and in a political and economic sense. Advancing power politics in particular, in more and more countries of the world, are increasingly leading to armed conflicts, sanctions, and the introduction of trade barriers. In an environment already generally characterized by escalating global uncertainty, climate change and the global warming that follows constitute a challenge of a scale hitherto unknown for decision-makers in politics and business.
Responsible corporate management demands that we face these challenges, and actively work to shape our future. voestalpine has most recently documented its commitment to this task by signing up to policies including the UN Global Compact and the worldsteel Sustainable Development Charter. Within the company we have clearly formulated the corresponding guidelines and objectives in our CR Strategy; this document sets out voestalpine’s understanding of sustainability, including the planning and implementation of projects and measures through to the associated reporting, for all of the Group’s activities, from procurement and production through to customers and employees.
A key input for managing our sustainability activities comes from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Formulated in dialogue with the stakeholders and signed by 193 UN Member States, these 17 goals address the major challenges facing business and society. While formulating our strategy here at voestalpine, we have considered at great length the goals to which we can make a coherent, and thus effective, contribution. They are set out in detail in the chapter on „“ and are repeatedly highlighted in the form of symbols throughout this report. This visual concept creates a graphic connection between our Group’s products and processes and the SDGs as the guiding principle behind our actions.
At the focus of our efforts to make a sustainable contribution to climate protection lie comprehensive measures to reduce CO2 emissions and generally decarbonize our processes, i.e., to replace fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy. This requires profound technological changes to our manufacturing processes over the next decades. In research projects and pilot facilities we are working on process innovations which are also explained in more detail in this report. For example, from today’s viewpoint we consider hydrogen, at least to some extent, as a promising alternative to coal and coke, today’s conventional sources of energy. However, it remains to be seen whether the technological process is both viable and economically feasible.
In a networked world sustainability and responsibility know no boundaries. Nowadays, assessing a product over its entire life cycle and considering the supply chain as a whole is standard procedure in modern CR reporting. voestalpine has actively addressed both of these issues over the past years. Undertaking life cycle assessments (LCA) requires permanent, close contact with our suppliers and customers as this is the only possible means of gaining a transparent and comprehensive overview of this complex sustainability measure. Incidentally, this also demonstrates the special characteristics of steel as a material which, with a relatively manageable energy input, is infinitely recyclable.
In order to model the many aspects of sustainability in purchasing and in the logistics chains in our production we have launched a comprehensive Sustainable Supply Chain Management (SSCM) project. In a first phase the supply chain for sophisticated steel products has been examined. Risks have been defined, and procedures related to supplier management have been analyzed and optimized, for all materials and all regions. You will find more information on this topic in the chapter on “”.
Behind all these projects, and the joint efforts to make an active contribution towards a livable future for our planet, stands the know-how and daily commitment of more than 50,000 dedicated voestalpine employees all around the world. As an employer, voestalpine’s primary responsibility is to its employees and their families. For that reason, we have established extremely strict standards within the Group in the fields of health & safety, training and continuing education, as well as equal treatment and diversity, and encourage the sharing of best practice models between our 500 sites around the world.
This is the third voestalpine Group CR Report. Although the formal nature of our reporting remains a recent development, the concept of sustainability has a long history as an integral part of our daily business life. Both in developing new and more environmentally-friendly processes, and conserving resources during production, our company has traditionally adopted a leading role within its industry—and this applies to all its areas of business. For example, in 2017 the World Steel Association (worldsteel) named voestalpine as one of six ‘Steel Sustainability Champions’ worldwide. Awarded for the first time, this accolade honors companies whose sustainability activities make them a model for the industry. Their key selection criteria are commitment, performance, and activities.
Austrian legislators have highlighted the significance of sustainable business by introducing the Sustainability and Diversity Improvement Act (NaDiVeG) which came into force in 2016. In it companies which meet defined criteria are obliged to provide regular communications on their activities and performance in these fields. The CR Report meets this obligation for all of the Group’s companies, and will therefore be published on an annual basis in future. A condensed Fact Sheet will be published in parallel, offering a summarized overview in 14 languages in order to cover all of our company’s most important markets, and supplemented by communications via social media. We hope that in doing so we can provide our stakeholders, in particular suppliers, customers, employees, shareholders, and political decision-makers, with a comprehensive overview of what we have achieved so far, and our future plans relating to corporate responsibility and sustainability.
Dr. Wolfgang Eder
Chairman of the Management Board
CEO of voestalpine AG