Holcim is a Swiss-based global company supplying cement, aggregates (crushed stone, sand and gravel), ready-mix concrete and asphalt, as well as related services.
In 2006, IUCN approached Holcim about becoming a partner in the project to extend IUCN’s headquarters in Gland, Switzerland. Holcim responded positively to this idea but also proposed expanding the collaboration: the Group was interested in better understanding biodiversity and its implications, and wanted to do this with the best available partner.
Holcim: A leader in sustainable development
Holcim had already placed sustainable development – which includes environmental stewardship – at the core of its business strategy. As a founding member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI), the Group had also contributed – and committed – to a number of industry recommendations and guidelines for a more sustainable cement industry. This includes a commitment to carry out environmental and social impact assessments (ESIA) following CSI guidelines, and develop quarry rehabilitation plans. Holcim is also the co-chair of the CSI Biodiversity Task Force and an active member in the WBCSD Ecosystems Focus Area.
Extractive industries: an IUCN priority
As a large-footprint and resource-intensive industry, the cement and aggregates sector is one of IUCN’s priorities for business engagement. Engaging with the building materials sector is also central to IUCN’s work to promote a green economy and sustainable development.
Given its leadership in sustainable development within these industries, Holcim was a logical partner for IUCN – not only to build on Holcim’s previous biodiversity approach but also as part of a broader effort to influence the entire sector.
IUCN and Holcim: a model for cooperation
The IUCN-Holcim Phase I agreement (2007-2010) had a number of significant outcomes, including:
- The creation of an Independent Expert Panel (now the Biodiversity Advisory Panel) to provide independent input and advice on biodiversity issues to Holcim
- The development of an integrated Biodiversity Management System for Holcim
- Revised corporate policies and tools related to biodiversity
These achievements – together with ongoing work under the Phase II agreement and country-level partnerships around the world – provide an excellent model for how IUCN, and the wider environmental community, can engage in substantive cooperation with a large global cooperation.
Engagement with Holcim at both global and national levels has also enabled IUCN to develop a better understanding of an environmentally important global industry.