The sustainability crisis facing the international community needs no introduction. Described as a ‘Code red for humanity’ by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the visible effects of global warming have been felt across Europe this summer, with record high temperatures and widespread wildfires devastating communities.
In addition to the environmental challenges facing governments around the world, the UN reports that overall progress on several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has reversed during the COVID-19 pandemic, with businesses instead focusing on more immediate financial challenges. This has consequently taken the focus away from key social and human rights issues, such as forced labour, discrimination and corruption across supply chains.
Due to the size of Van Ameyde, the low-emitting nature of our work, and the relatively small populations we work among in Scandinavia, our ability to contribute towards global SDGs in the region could be considered fairly limited. However, we believe that everyone can have an impact, and that even small contributions matter.
Our approach is to focus on what we can do, and to take responsibility for the differences that we can make to improve the sustainability of our businesses, including close examination of our internal operations and those of our suppliers.
By way of example, as illustrated below, VA has, where possible, looked to make a difference by actively changing its business activities, rather than compensating for them:
- By cutting our carbon emissions rather than offsetting them.
- By working against discrimination, improving working conditions and promoting good health internally and in the supply chain, rather than just supporting a charity or foundation
We very much follow Vincent Van Gogh’s mantra that great things are done by a series of small things brought together.
So, can a relatively small claims management company like Van Ameyde really make a difference?
Yes, we can.
First of all we are a participant in the UN Global Compact initiative and are committed to running our business following the 10 principles for responsible business. We have a strong focus on ethical operations, anti-corruption and of course, taking care of our most important resource, our people.
Secondly, we have established a clear roadmap to enable us to become carbon neutral within all three emissions scopes by 2030.
As an office-based business, we naturally have a limited carbon footprint, as we do not produce any direct emissions from production (also referred to as scope one). Our emissions mainly consist of electricity (scope two) and office equipment, business travel and employee commutes (scope three).
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also implemented a strict travel policy and aim to use video conferences whenever we can to limit our scope 3 emissions. We also aim to re-use, where possible, office furniture and IT equipment, as recycling is key to keeping our carbon emissions down.
In addition to the actions already mentioned, we have also carried out an in-depth SDG analysis to determine which goals will have the most impact, as well as producing regular reports on our focus areas and carrying out annual sustainability audits by EcoVadis. In our most recent audit for 2022, we achieved a gold sustainability medal in both Denmark and Norway, and Silver in Sweden.
Internally, we have divided our activity around sustainability into four key pillars;
- Environmental, aimed at making our organisation carbon neutral
- Social, designed to ensure we deliver social good and holistic development
- Governance, to deploy responsible business and governance practices, and finally
- Procurement, in order to drive high standards for sustainable procurement
We’re proud of our results so far, but we, and the global business community, still have much work to do. We will continue to work on improving and further developing our routines and measures, while we focus on integrating SDGs into our core business.