SOCIAL ENGINEERING IS CONSISTENT WITH THE BOSKALIS TRADITION
In 2016 Boskalis launched a social impact program. The main objectives of this initiative are:
To increase awareness of our social impact and the applicable international frameworks within the company. To develop a standard evaluation mechanism to identify projects in the tender phase that have a (potential) higher risk profile. Consistent application of our social impact principles and procedures on projects.
CEO Peter Berdowski and Lara Muller, director of Public Affairs, talk about the how and why of the approach.
At the same time at micro level, at the site of the actual intervention, you can come up against specific social consequences that might be negative if no measures are taken. In other words, it’s nearly always about the general, common interest versus the individual interest.”
Berdowski: “This program emphasizes the importance Boskalis attaches to the impact our projects can have on the environment, and local communities in particular. This in itself is nothing new for Boskalis. The program is the culmination of a process of many years and reflects how we have developed and how we respond to changing circumstances. For many years our dredging and infrastructural projects have involved interventions in existing environments. Two aspects come into play here: the impact on the environment and the social impact. Consideration for the environment is a feature that has become deeply embedded in our organization, and something that we take into account right from the initial design of a project. One of the results of our focus on the environment is our successful Building with Nature program, which involves us adopting the natural system as a basic design principle. Our environmental experts at Hydronamic assess the ecological aspects of a project and devise groundbreaking solutions, such as coral relocation. But in addition to this the realization has gradually grown – both among ourselves and among financiers, credit insurers, governments, NGOs and other stakeholders – that these interventions can also have a major impact on the social environment. If you look at the social component of projects you can conclude that the impact of our projects at macro and at meso-level is almost always positive: our interventions generally enhance the safety and prosperity of the surrounding area.
Berdowski: “The social impact of a project depends on the location. Many of our projects take place in regions that are virtually uninhabited, meaning that local community engagement does not play a major role. But sometimes we carry out dredging work in traditional fishing areas, and on some of these projects we are asked to manage the local social risks, for example by informing and consulting the local stakeholders or seeing to it that the fishermen receive reasonable and adequate compensation if this is appropriate. Projects where we are able to handle such compensation ourselves, in accordance with our own standards and in line with international guidelines, generally go smoothly. However, it does also happen that clients or local authorities assume this role, in which case our influence is limited.” Muller: “The question is always: who holds responsibility for the social impact of a project? Is Boskalis given the space to get involved? And so it is crucial to determine and clarify for each individual project what our role is and what our responsibilities are. This can be contractually agreed with the client, but may also