A bus transporting commuters early one morning in Curitiba, Brazil. This is a positive example of the Volvo Group’s effort to create sustainable transport solutions that take into consideration the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability.
The Bus Rapid Transit system, the type used in Curitiba, has been developed by the Volvo Group for many decades. Today, when nearly half of the world’s population lives in cities, the need for sustainable transport solutions is increasing. Transport systems must have high capacity, low environmental impact and must be safe. At the same time, as supplier, we must adapt to the different economic conditions that exist in the many societies in which we operate.
The Volvo Group’s vision is to become world leader in sustainable transport solutions. It is a bold vision that clarifies our commitment to contribute to sustainable development through our operation.
Several of the global challenges facing the world are directly or indirectly connected to the infrastructure and transport sectors: climate change, population growth, urbanization and the shortage of natural resources and raw materials. The Volvo Group’s global presence provides us with the opportunity to act and contribute to a positive trend.
I am convinced that sustainable products and services will be a prerequisite for us remaining a globally competitive group in the future. I am also convinced that our vision will make us better at recognizing new business opportunities and thus capturing new market share, while contributing to sustainable development.
Traditionally, sustainability in the automotive industry has first and foremost involved reducing the impact of products on the environment. Naturally, the environmental dimension is still very important, but to achieve sustainable transport solutions, we must also take into consideration the social and economic dimensions. I see a future with a highly effective transport system, with energy-efficient solutions that are safe and secure both for humans and goods.
During 2012, the Volvo Group implemented a number of activities that have brought us closer to our vision. We are now in a period of extensive product renewal and the launch of our new Volvo FH series is very interesting from an energy-efficient and safety aspect, which will help our customers to make their work even more effective. Other examples are our methane-diesel truck that can operate on renewable gas and the hybrid buses that are able to save up to 39% in fuel in certain applications.
I believe that only a sustainable company, with sustainable growth, is able to deliver sustainable solutions. To demonstrate the seriousness of our vision, the Volvo Group has revised our CSR and sustainability strategy and is incorporating it into our daily work. I feel that we have a method that is clearly connected to our business model and our strategies. The model handles risks, supports our business and contributes to sustainable development.
The Volvo Group is active in 190 markets worldwide, which are characterized by various political, legal and cultural systems and our growth in the past decade derived primarily from new markets. Shared core values are required to ensure that our work method is the same worldwide. In 2012, our Board of Directors adopted a new Code of Conduct, which is based on the principles of the Global Compact, the UN initiative for companies’ global responsibility, which includes the principles pertaining to human rights, labor issues, the environment and corruption. The Volvo Group’s commitment to these issues is genuine and I trust that every employee will comply with these values and the guidelines established in our new Code of Conduct. Our new Code will also send out a clear message regarding what stakeholders can expect of us.
I believe that a responsible company has better prerequisites for becoming a credible business partner. To meet society’s needs for sustainable transport solutions, we must primarily cooperate with our customers but also with other players in the industry and society. To operate in many of our new markets, it is also a prerequisite to contribute to social development.
For example, in 2012, we initiated a training course for mechanics in Ethiopia, trained excavator operators in India and continued to promote our successful traffic-safety project in Brazil. This is in line with our philosophy to contribute to social development, while creating value for the Volvo Group. Another example that I would like to highlight is the Volvo step, our one-year training course for unemployed young people in Sweden, which started in 2012 with 4,000 applicants for the 400 first positions. The Volvo step is an investment in securing our supply of expertise, while contributing something to reducing unemployment in young people in Sweden. One lesson learned from this three-year project is that we in the industry must listen more to young people. They know what they want, which includes working in the industry.
I am very proud of the fact that the Volvo Group has been inspired by the principles of the Global Compact since 2001 in our effort for sustainable development. The Global Compact provides us with an excellent foundation on which to stand and this year’s report explains how we integrate the principles with our value chain and our initiatives to contribute to sustainable development. This report presents what we have achieved but even more importantly, our road ahead.