The continuous improvement in Sasol's safety performance and transformation rank as important milestones among many other important achievements listed in the group's 2007 sustainability development report, issued in Johannesburg today.
Sasol's safety record is at an all time high, there have been significant strides in black economic empowerment (BEE), and an environmental roadmap for the next 15 years, with particular focus on managing greenhouse gases and water, has been put in place.
"The significant improvement in our safety performance is pleasing. However, our foremost objective is to operate with zero safety incidents. We are determined to achieve this by continuing to entrench a shift in safety attitudes and behaviours," Sasol CE Pat Davies said at the launch of the report.
Davies said that Sasol has invested much in improving its image among stakeholders and in society at large. This includes forging closer ties with organised labour, communities, environmental experts, and the South African and other governments to ensure greater alignment of activities to national socioeconomic objectives, as well as sufficient communication of the group's activities and plans.
The group is also witnessing positive impacts emanating from an initiative to promote a culture of values driven leadership.
Sasol recently announced a transaction, which if approved by shareholders, will be South Africa's largest single broad-based BEE ownership deal to date. It will involve the proposed transfer of a 10% interest in Sasol Limited to South African employees, black shareholders and a Sasol Foundation, which will focus on capacity building and skills development, particularly in science and technology.
"I am very excited by this transaction as I believe it will contribute significantly to achieving our growth strategy and South Africa's long-term economic success," says Davies.
In consultation with key stakeholders, as well as through its internal risk assessment processes, Sasol has identified its most material sustainability challenges to include climate change, safety, skills development and BEE. "Once again, we have used the sustainable development report as an opportunity to engage in constructive and frank dialogue with our key stakeholders, thus helping us to respond effectively to the risks and opportunities of sustainable development," said Davies.
A series of high-level thematic dialogues were held between Sasol management and leading external practitioners on safety, climate change and skills development. Sasol will be hosting the BEE dialogue in 2008. An independent summary review of these dialogues can be found in the report, which has been prepared in line with the G3 reporting guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
"We consider global climate change to be one of our principal strategic challenges, not only for our existing operations, but also as we investigate opportunities to roll out our coal and gas to liquids technologies globally," said Sasol's environmental expert Fred Goede. Goede is one of several South Africans on the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), which recently won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Al Gore of the USA.
In the light of the potential peaking of crude oil, Sasol believes that its technologies will form an important part of the global search for solutions to the energy challenge. To this end the group is investigating opportunities for carbon capture and storage, and continues to explore the potential for producing fuel from renewable energy and raw material such as fuel cells and biodiesel.
In dealing with the water issue, Sasol is at an early stage of implementing water-saving and effluent management projects. Means to secure sufficient water supplies have been identified and all projects are being designed with greater emphasis on reducing raw water demand and improving overall water and effluent management.
The global lack of skilled workers is being met by a comprehensive skills development programme aimed at improving the group's internal skills development capacity, as well as contributing to external skills development initiatives in partnership with government and other employers.
In light of these efforts, which have been sustained since the first external sustainable development report was issued 1996, Sasol has been recognised a leader in corporate sustainability reporting. The 2006 report won the following accolades:
- Overall winner Best Sustainability Report -- administered by the South African Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
- Best Sustainability Report in the extractive industries sector -- ACCA * Winner of the Ernst & Young Excellence in Sustainability reporting annual award.
- Sasol was listed as the sole African company under the "Rest of the World Top 100" sustainability reports by Context's and CorporateRegister.com's seventh annual report on corporate responsibility reporting
- Sasol was included in the top 100 global reports listed in the UNEP/Sustainability reporting, "Tomorrow's Value."
- The UN Global Compact included Sasol on its list of "Notable Communications on Progress" for its reporting on implementation of the global Compact principle.