1. Strategy and analysis
G4-1 CEO Statement
For the statement of Christian Buhl (CEO), see CEO Statement on sustainability.
G4-2 Key impacts, risks and opportunities with regard to sustainability
For Geberit, sustainability means being oriented towards the future and being successful over the long term. This means striking a balance in decision-making processes between various economic, ecological and social aspects. In essence it also means identifying important technological and social trends in good time in dialogue with our stakeholders and developing suitable products and services that provide solutions for customers and added value for other stakeholders. The long-term orientation also minimises risks for business development that are increasingly not of a purely financial nature but arise from social developments and ecological risks. Geberit has a decades-long commitment to sustainability and is a leader in this area, setting standards for customers, employees, suppliers and other partners. Various awards and rankings serve to confirm Geberit’s role as a leader in sustainability in various stakeholder groups’ perceptions.
Supplementary to the established Sustainability strategy based on the GRI G4 guidelines, the Materiality analysis carried out prioritises the key topics for Geberit and simultaneously highlights the areas in which added value for stakeholders is created: water-saving and sustainable products, environmentally friendly and resource-efficient production, procurement and logistics with high environmental and ethical standards, and good, safe working conditions for the some 12,000 employees worldwide. The social responsibility is realised among other things within the scope of global social projects relating to the core competencies of water and sanitary facilities, and is intensified through memberships such as that with the non-profit organisation Swiss Water Partnership aimed at promoting international dialogue on water. There is also a long-term partnership with the Swiss development organisation Helvetas.
As illustrated by the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the world is facing major challenges. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) define concrete targets and indicators for 17 different themes which the states are required to implement by 2030. Integration of the economy plays a pivotal role in implementing these targets and indicators. As a result, major opportunities with growth potential are also arising for companies geared towards sustainable products and services – such as Geberit. In accordance with the external Stakeholder Panel which was conducted for the third time in September 2016, Geberit sees its contribution above all in four UN Sustainable Development Goals:
UN Sustainable Development Goal number 6 “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” has the greatest relevance for Geberit. The efficient and responsible handling of water plays an important role here. A growing world population, migration, urbanisation, climate change and natural disasters can lead to regions that are currently well supplied with water becoming problem regions in future. These global trends will have an impact on future sanitary technology: water-saving and resource-efficient products and high drinking water quality are becoming ever more important. The results achieved by the water-saving products are impressive: According to one model calculation, all Geberit dual-flush and flush-stop cisterns installed since 1998 have so far saved around 22,600 million cubic metres of water in comparison with traditional flushing systems. In 2016 alone, the water saved amounted to around 2,430 million cubic metres. This is more than half of the annual consumption of all German households.
The focus on innovative products and their development is closely linked to UN Sustainable Development Goal number 9 “Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation”. Thanks to targeted investments in research and development as well as modern infrastructures and production processes, Geberit is a global driving force in the development and manufacture of sanitary products. In addition to classic product development, investments are made in the following relevant fields of competence as the basis for future innovations: hydraulics, materials technology, hygiene, surface technology, electronics, sound insulation, statics, fire protection, process engineering and virtual engineering. The focus is on the different areas working together and the continuous testing of new, integrated product and system solutions, materials and concepts. In the product development process managed in a uniform manner throughout the Group, eco-design plays a role at an early stage, meaning that new products are systematically examined and optimised in terms of environmental and safety aspects. This takes place along the entire value chain – from the selection of raw materials and utilisation right through to disposal.
Geberit also contributes to the implementation of UN Sustainable Development Goal number 11 “Make cities and human settlements safe, resilient and sustainable”. As well as saving water, Geberit products impress with their quality, durability, easy installation and maintenance, easy cleaning, design, resource efficiency and good environmental compatibility, thereby contributing to innovation in sanitary applications, sustainable infrastructure and green building. Green building is becoming ever more important in both the public and private construction sector, with European standards that define the use of sustainable products and systems in buildings gaining in significance. More and more buildings are being constructed in accordance with sustainability standards such as LEED, DGNB, Minergie and BREEAM. Consequently, there is demand among investors, project developers, owners and tenants for system providers with comprehensive know-how in green building in order to ensure the relevant standards are met. Geberit is addressing this demand with water-saving and energy-saving, low-noise and durable products, thereby positioning itself in the front line with regard to green building. This is demonstrated by the numerous reference projects incorporating green building, see reference magazine View. Cooperation with research institutes such as NEST future projects therefore makes sense as this offers innovative companies a unique opportunity to test new technology, materials and systems in real-life conditions.
Furthermore, as a profitable company with a sound financial basis and as an attractive employer of around 12,000 staff, Geberit makes a tangible contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goal number 8 “Promote sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all”. The high level of participation and great commitment overall on the part of the employees during the employee survey carried out across the Group in 2016 show that the commitment and performance of Geberit are perceived positively and upheld by the employees. Attractive working conditions, comprehensive further development opportunities and long-term goals such as the vision of an accident-free company are made possible thanks to the sustainable business performance that Geberit has consistently implemented for many years.
Geberit combats risks posed by increasing regulation and changing framework conditions with an effective compliance system that focuses on compliance in the five key topic areas of antitrust legislation, corruption, employee rights, product liability and environmental protection.