Aarhus Vand will be the first water company in Denmark to gain certification under the SDGs.Miriam Feilberg
Aarhus Vand uses sustainability principles in its day-to-day operations and the many development projects the company is currently engaged in. The water company is already in possession of certification relating to drinking water safety, the environment and the working environment.
Now the SDGs are to be incorporated so that Aarhus Vand has full environmental and sustainability certification.
Aarhus Vand has chosen four goals for its strategic focus:
Goal 6 – Clean water and sanitation
Goal 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
Goal 13 – Climate action
Goal 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Within these four SDGs, the company has defined a number of targets and specific actions to achieve the goals. This is the basis for the certification undertaken by Norske Veritas (DNV).
By issuing the certification, DNV confirms that Aarhus Vand is taking targeted and measurable action.
The action needed to achieve the four SDGs forms part of the integrated management system of Aarhus Vand.
DNV monitors progress in this respect once a year. DNV makes sure that the correct targets are still in place in terms of strengthening sustainability and that the action taken by Aarhus Vand is adequate to achieve them.
“DNV is to make sure that we do what we say and develop in the way we say we will. We now have certification for this, and they will assess our progress once a year from now on”, says Per Bach, Head of Process Management and SDG Action Manager at Aarhus Vand.
Over the coming years, Aarhus Vand intends to keep up the good intentions and ensure the SDGs are translated into action. The company must ensure knowledge about and commitment to the SDGs are maintained, at the same time as developing the new solutions.
To achieve their goal, the entire organisation needs to be involved.
For SDG target 6.1 – clean water – the local target requires Aarhus Vand to ensure all customers have access to healthy and safe drinking water. As part of the certification, this is to be measured in terms of the following:
The global SDG target 6.3 requires, among other things, that wastewater be treated. At a local level, Aarhus Vand has the following targets:
The subsidiary targets are to be accompanied by specific action, such as benchmarking to ensure fair prices.
In terms of the partnership goal, Goal 17, Aarhus Vand has set itself goals for action in partnerships with e.g. technological development. In addition, the company has initiated action to enhance global activities that support the SDGs, e.g. secondment of staff, knowledge sharing and involvement in projects in various parts of the world.
Apart from the four goals for which the company holds certification, Aarhus Vand is also engaged in targeted action in respect of a further nine goals.
“We are focusing on making a difference in terms of all the SDGs, but we prioritise strategically. We are therefore the first water company in the world to gain certification in the UN's SDGs. It compels us to undertake concrete and measurable action where we are able and intend to contribute with sustainability of our own”, says Per Bach, adding: “We would very much like to contribute via global partnerships. DNV requires that we should be able to assess how we stand on the following: How, how much and where? This is important, as otherwise it is all too easy just to meet target figures.”
Aarhus Vand also wants to increase sustainability in the future. The new treatment plant, Aarhus Rewater and the company's new base, will e.g. be subject to constant assessment as to which SDGs they support. Specific requirements for sustainable purchasing, maintenance and similar activities will be imposed.
“We have committed ourselves to this in respect of the world at large and the certification body, and with our concrete ambitions for four SDGs, we can adhere to our intention to apply SDGs in everything we do”, says Per Bach in conclusion.
DANVA, the Danish Water and Wastewater Association, is an industry organisation for drinking water companies and wastewater companies in Denmark. DANVA is a nonprofit association, funded by its members and through commercial activities.