supports
Biz & SDGs Experience
Title

Land and biodiversity as levers to durable profitability

SDGs Coverage
Year of Publication of the Experience: 2015

Abstract

Entrusting its business model grounded on sustainability, the Group has launched a comprehensive programme to implement preservation of biodiversity at all extraction sites, adopting the appropriate level of management according to the local specific features. Adopted in 2014, the Biodiversity Management Guidelines, will be fully implemented by 2020, completing and lifting to a more mature level the ongoing commitment to implement rehabilitation plans at all quarries under Group operational control.

The Experience

Italcementi Group always considered responsible sourcing of raw materials from quarries as an asset to integrate business continuity with environmentally friendly practices and social acceptance. Now, the Group’s consciousness of being strongly grounded on natural capital, intended as the natural assets providing resource inputs and ecosystem services for economic production and social wellbeing, raises to a new level of maturity.

Entrusting its commitment to sustainability and building on its Environmental Policy, the Group has launched a comprehensive programme to ensure that preservation of biodiversity is implemented at all extraction sites, adopting the appropriate level of management according to the local specific features. The Biodiversity Management Guidelines, adopted in 2014, will be fully implemented by 2020, completing and lifting to a more mature level the ongoing commitment to implement rehabilitation plans at all quarries under Group operational control.

The dual relation based on impacts and dependences of Italcementi’s activities on biodiversity and the underpinned ecosystem services has been deeply investigated within the scope of the periodic materiality assessment performed by the Group in order to analyse the set of issues that may threaten the ability to operate its business model and execute its strategy. The aim of the analysis was to identify all issues that “may reasonably be considered important for reflecting the Group’s economic, environmental and social impacts, influencing the decisions of stakeholders and the assessment of providers of financial capital with regard to the Group’s ability to create value over the short, medium and long term”. All relevant aspects in the fields of Economics, Environment, Labour Practices and Decent Work, Human Rights, Society and Product Responsibility, duly integrated by additional elements useful to understand Group’s dynamics, have been evaluated under two standpoints - business interest and stakeholders interest - with the involvement of the widest range of Group functions and stakeholders. The results shows that energy and climate, materials and recycling and land and biodiversity are very high in stakeholders focus but also key levers for business durable profitability.

Thus, under the clear vision that natural resources are definitively limited and that biodiversity’s planetary boundaries are already critically exceeded, with a high rate of loss of species, the Group has adopted the Guidelines for Biodiversity Management, building on internationally recognized references and Group’s best expertise.

Two major scientific works stand at the foundation of the Group approach: the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, launched by the United Nations in 2000, with the objective to assess the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being; the research on Planetary Boundaries, setting out precautionary boundaries for nine critical processes of human-driven environmental change. Moreover, two major methodological recommendations inspire the Group guidelines: the Biodiversity Management Plan Guidance, issued in 2014 by the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI); the Integrated Biodiversity Management System, issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) specifically for cement and aggregates businesses.

Mijas quarryIssued in 2014, the Group guidelines aim to provide guidance and recommendations for the integrated, prioritised and systematic management of biodiversity at the subsidiary and site level, in order to deliver better outcomes for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

The appropriate level of biodiversity management will be implemented at all quarry sites, regardless of size, on which the Group has operational control, whether extraction has begun or not; it will be applied at closed and/or exhausted quarries, and sites reserved for future resource use or temporarily dormant quarry sites. To this purpose, all sites are screened and classified upon two properties: the Biodiversity Impact Category (BIC) and the potential impact of Group’s activities on biodiversity value. BIC may vary from sites with international, national or local biodiversity value down to sites already heavily modified by anthropogenic activities. The potential impact of operation on biodiversity value ranges from low to very significant. A simple matrix helps to assign the appropriate biodiversity management level to be implemented at all quarry sites, according to specific requirements further to the standard rehabilitation plan, already mandatory.

For sites deserving a high biodiversity input, a separate Biodiversity Action/Management Plan (BAP/BMP) has to be developed and implemented. This includes the definition of specific positive biodiversity targets, re-vegetation using only native species, active control of invasive alien species, long-term post-closure management for biodiversity-related land use, active monitoring of target attainment. The final intended use of land is targeted solely to conservation purposes and for uses as natural resources or biodiversity reserve, considering the broader landscape of surrounding territory.

For lower priority sites, a medium biodiversity input will be implemented, by addressing a section dedicated to biodiversity protection within the Rehabilitation Plan (RP). In any case this must include specific biodiversity targets, re-vegetation using only native species, active control of invasive alien species, but no biodiversity monitoring is required. In the medium biodiversity input case the final intended use of the land is for uses as natural resources or biodiversity reserve, always considering the broader landscape of surrounding territory.

GARGENVILLE 18Any other extraction site has to implement a low biodiversity input, through a standard Rehabilitation Plan (RP) that includes, in any case re-vegetation using non-invasive alien species or native species, active control of invasive alien species. No biodiversity monitoring is required and the ultimate land use is not primarily targeted to biodiversity, considering the broader landscape of surrounding territory.

The screening/assessment of Group’s extraction sites will be completed by June 2016. Afterwards, the implementation timeline will be mainly defined upon the identified Biodiversity Importance Category (BIC). Sites with international or national biodiversity value, plus opening or closing sites, will have to implement the appropriate level of biodiversity management by June 2017. Sites with local biodiversity value will have to implement the appropriate level of biodiversity management by December 2018. All the remaining sites will have to complete the implementation by December 2020 at latest.

While the specific implementation of the new Group Guidelines on Biodiversity Management has just started, the Group’s commitment to properly manage extraction sites shows already significant achievements as from the following summary table. A preliminary screening shows that 47% of the almost 300 extraction sites are within, close to generate or with potential effects on areas with biodiversity value, even if not yet prioritized as required by the Guidelines. At the same time, 91% of total extraction sites have rehabilitation plans, also addressing biodiversity issues in their design and follow up, while an increasing number of sites already adopt specific biodiversity management, mostly in line with the new requirements.

 

283

Quarries

258

With rehabilitation plans, also addressing biodiversity

133

In sensitive areas for biodiversity

44

With biodiversity plan

ITALCEMENTI GROUP
ITALCEMENTI GROUP is one of the world’s leading cement producers, with a strong focus on innovation and sustainable construction materials. The Group companies combine the expertise, know-how and cultures of 22 countries across four continents. The parent company ItalcementiSpA, founded in 1864 and listed on the Italian Stock Exchange since 1925, is one of the major Italian industrial company. Italcementi Group is an active member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Cement Sustainability Initiative, also adhering to the UN Global Compact. Through the activities of its advanced Innovation Centre i.lab, the Group intends to anticipate market trends and requirements giving priority to sustainability issues and optimization of resources.
«We create value in the building materials sector through the innovative and sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of our communities and clients.»
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