Planning for the future: a sustainable Södra
Her new position is linked to a project launched last year to optimise the handling of sustainability issues across the Södra Group. A review of internal systems and processes was completed at the end of 2014 and it recommended that Södra establish a Group Sustainability Strategy.
Kristina Altner‘s job is project leader for the new sustainability programme, called “Ett Hållbart Södra” in Swedish, which translates as ‘A Sustainable Södra’.
The programme will set goals for each division of Södra under one corporate, centralised strategy on sustainability. “We are already doing a lot of good things today,” she says, “but the different business areas are all working with sustainability in their own ways. This new strategic plan will give us a better focus and it should enable us to communicate our goals and achievements more effectively to all our stakeholders.” Her focus now is on analysing what areas of sustainability the company should focus on for the future. To that end, Södra is conducting research through the first third of the year, both within and outside the company. The internal focus group will examine what issues Södra deems important.
Then they will compare notes with the results of a dialogue which involves questionnaires to 600 stakeholders and around 35 one-to-one interviews asking for feedback on everything from Södra’s energy use and biodiversity to its product labelling and climate risk management. The aim is to have a centralised strategy in place before the end of the year. Once the new strategy is in place, each business area will set goals and guidelines within the centralised system. It will also mean that future reporting on sustainability will conform to the Global Reporting Initiative, GRI G4. This common standard is a useful tool by which to measure performance and ensure clarity and transparency when reporting. “It will help us to be more transparent to customers and other stakeholders,” explains Kristina, “in a systematic, clear way.”
“Södra has a great deal to contribute when it comes to sustainability,” she continues. “We have the potential to improve the systems surrounding our sustainability and we can see the need for a holistic approach. A Group strategy could really help support all the work that goes on within the divisions. Many within Södra are so close to sustainability, literally, that it has become integrated within the business model in a way which means we are not necessarily that good at working with sustainability issues in a structured way. That is hopefully all about to change.”
“In 10 years’ time, Södra will be in a very different place compared with today when it comes to sustainability,” she reflects.”I think sustainability will be integrated into the core business plan in a much better way than it is today. And as for me, I’ve certainly found the part of the business I want to stick with. Sustainability is the business, in every sense of the phrase.”