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Principles governing report preparation

As its method for determining relevant issues, defining contents, and ensuring the quality of the information contained in this report, Abengoa chose to apply the three principles defined under the AA1000 AS (2008) standard: inclusivity, materiality and responsiveness; as well as the four GRI principles: materiality, stakeholder inclusiveness, sustainability context and completeness.

Materiality (under GRI and AA1000)

Information is considered material if omission or distortion thereof may have an effect on the decisions or actions of the stakeholders of the reporting organization. Materiality therefore refers to the relevance for the business of the different aspects related to sustainability.

Therefore, the information contained in the CSRR 2011 covers aspects and indicators that reflect the company’s significant social, environmental and economic impacts or those which may have a substantial influence on stakeholder evaluations and decisions. In 2011 Abengoa conducted an analysis of materiality through a procedure for determining relevant CSR matters, which is centered on two bases for analysis that subsequently intersect to obtain the final result: external factors (those related to the expectations of Abengoa’s stakeholders and the importance the latter attach to the different matters) and internal factors (which determine the significance of the different issues for the business, company management, and, ultimately, in meeting objectives envisaged under business strategy). The use of both perspectives is essential in fulfilling the principle of inclusivity defined under AA1000 AS (2008).

The following sources were taken into account in preparing the list of external factors:

  • International reporting standards, consisting primarily of the GRI and the AA1000 AS (2008).
  • Sector-wide analysis of the main homologous and competing companies, both domestic and international.
  • Socially responsible investors. Index analysis, including the DJSI and the FTSE4Good, enables the company to identify issues that are material to investors and shareholders.
  • International initiatives, including the United Nations Global Compact and Caring for Climate. These and other voluntary agreements consist of a series of principles that demand certain commitments from the company, which are evaluated on a yearly basis in order to identify new material issues.
  • Analysis of reader response to last year’s report submitted through the communication channels made available for this purpose.
  • The media, by analyzing Abengoa’s media exposure and that of homologous and competing companies; positive and negative CSR-related matters receiving the most attention from the media have been identified.
  • Prescriptors. The company has examined public documentation from social and sectorial (energy and environment) associations and organizations working in areas of interest to Abengoa and its business.

To select internal factors, a committee on relevant matters was set up, composed of 14 employees from representative company areas and presided over by the director of Corporate Social Responsibility. Through a secret voting process, the committee came up with a selection of internal issues (related to company values, policies and strategies, and staff concerns) and analyzed the degree of materiality of each issue, that of the external factors, and of relevant issues extracted from comparable procedures performed within the company; also taking into account the nature and dimension of each aspect analyzed to prepare a list of priorities.

As a way to reinforce the identification and definition of material issues, a series of stakeholder interviews were conducted with the aim of honing the selection of critical or priority issues for each stakeholder.

The matrix resulting from the Material Issue Procedure classifies matters as obligatory, optional or non-material, according to whether or not they should be included in the CSRR. The five obligatory matters with the highest score are flagged as critical and should be analyzed in greater depth in the CSRR. Monitoring indicators are devised for obligatory and critical matters to enable the company to monitor them over time.


Stakeholder inclusiveness (GRI) and inclusivity (AA1000)

These two principles dictate that the reporting organization identify its stakeholders, take them into account in drawing up strategy, and describe in the report how the organization has addressed stakeholder expectations and interests. Abengoa, during the process of preparing and developing its Strategic CSR Plan, identified approximately 100 key stakeholder prescriptors in order to ascertain the importance they attach to the challenges¡ identified, and to gauge their perception of Abengoa’s performance with respect to each of the matters, and the state of matters deemed material..

As an accompaniment to the procedure for analyzing relevant CSR-related matters, in 2011 Abengoa conducted a series of interviews with external experts and members of
prestigious international organizations, including the Business Social Compliance Initiative, the Nature Conservancy, the World Resources Institute, the Man and Nature Foundation, the Association of Renewable Energies, the International Labor Organization, Transparency International, and Oxfam, among others, to learn about the challenges and trends in critical CSR matters in the sectors to which Abengoa belongs, and to find out their perception of the company’s performance with respect to these critical matters.

The following issues were addressed in the interviews:

  • Supplier requirements.
  • Conservation of resources and biodiversity in developing renewable energies.
  • Current challenges and trends in developing renewable energy (solar).
  • Good CSR practices in developing renewable energy (solar).
  • Climate change.
  • Biofuels.
  • Future of renewable energies.
  • Risks and opportunities derived from laws and regulations.
  • Good practices and labor risks (ILO standards).
  • Transparency.
  • Corruption.
  • Local community relations.

For the fourth consecutive year, Abengoa has undergone an evaluation by an Independent Panel of Experts on Sustainable Development (IPESD), made up of independent professionals of renowned international prestige in the environmental, social and economic spheres. This panel lends a voice to the perspectives and opinions of Abengoa’s stakeholders so as to ensure that the company reports information on the issues they find material, while providing recommendations on expected company performance with respect to these matters.

The members of the panel conducted an analytical review of the CSRR published by Abengoa in 2010 with the aim of fostering information transparency by participating in an open dialog between the company and its stakeholders, and by issuing their evaluation of the materiality of the company’s CSRR and the solutions provided to its stakeholders. The responses provided by Abengoa to the questions formulated by the IPESD were verified externally by PwC and obtained a reasonable level of assurance.

Prior to preparing the questions, the members of the IPESD also held face-to-face meetings with those in charge of the areas they considered CSR-critical in order to conduct an up-close analysis of company strategy and performance and thereby supplement the information they had gathered from reading the report.

Furthermore, Abengoa has a range of communication channels and mechanisms in place with which the company maintains ongoing open dialog with its stakeholders in order to ascertain needs and expectations.

Sustainability context (GRI)

The reporting organization should present its performance within the broader context of sustainability. The question underlying sustainability reporting is the way in which the organization contributes, or plans to contribute in the future, to the improvement or deterioration of economic, environmental and social trends, developments, and conditions at the local, regional, or global level.

Abengoa is an international company that applies innovative technological solutions for sustainable development, and, throughout this report, evaluates company performance within the context of its contribution to its stakeholders and to the environment.

Abengoa has been a very active company in terms of communicating and disseminating initiatives associated with sustainability. In 2011 seminars were organized around themes such as climate change, sustainability, and renewable energies; forums for heightening society awareness were promoted, such as the Focus-Abengoa Forum on Energy and Climate Change; numerous articles were published internally and externally on these subjects, and distributed to different company stakeholders and included on the website, the contents of which are structured around the cornerstones underpinning the company’s business model: environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and transparency and rigor in management. The company also features a corporate blog consisting of articles of opinion published on a variety of matters related to sustainability. This blog, accessible through the corporate website, is open to comments from any reader with the aim of encouraging dialog.

Completeness (GRI)

Completeness refers to suitable coverage of the indicators and material aspects, in order for them to reflect significant social, economic and environmental impacts and enable stakeholders to assess the performance of the reporting organization during the period covered by the report. 

This report was prepared with the intention of appropriately reflecting the intrinsic implications, risks and challenges of each line of company business, making information accessible to a wide-ranging and heterogeneous audience. The document gives greater priority to certain aspects over others, depending on the materiality matrix established in the analysis of material matters, and is complemented by case studies and specific examples. To help understand the text and find information, and so as to ensure uniform presentation, a common structure was devised for all chapters and sections.

Indicator coverage, understood as all entities whose performance is described in the report, extends to all Abengoa subsidiaries, including joint ventures, operating on the five continents, over which the company has effective control of management. Appendix A lists the companies included within the scope of the report. Any additional exclusion is specified accordingly within the indicator itself.

Responsiveness (AA1000)

In 2011 Abengoa continued to implement its Strategic CSR Plan, which defines the framework and guidelines to be followed by the company in the realm of sustainability through a set of actions that integrate stakeholder expectations into company strategy.

In addition, a corporate scorecard or Responsible Management Balance Sheet was introduced during the year. Comprising a selection of relevant CSR-related indicators for which reporting was conducted on a more regular basis, it has helped to improve stakeholder confidence while enabling us to analyze changes in key figures.

In 2011 Abengoa reinforced and enhanced the company’s CSR reporting system through the Integrated Sustainability Management System, which combines all material information pertaining to sustainability, thus improving measurement and control of company performance.