Clare Broadbent

Head, Sustainability, worldsteel

3 March 2022

Steel is in the spotlight today as we’re classified as one of the ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors. It’s a really exciting time for the industry. We’ve never had so much attention before, nor as many people wanting to help the industry reach the targets we’re setting for ourselves to become a low-carbon, or carbon neutral industry.

It’s not just about carbon

But CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions are only part of our story. Yes, we need to significantly reduce our carbon emissions to rapidly reduce the devastating impact that we are all having on the climate. But sustainability is a lot bigger than this. We need to look at a lot more – how we can contribute to the circular economy, how we can reduce our demand for raw materials, use less water, reduce our impact on biodiversity and contribute positively to local flora and fauna.

And it’s not all about the environmental impact we have either. Looking into our supply chains, taking responsibility for where our raw materials come from, what are the social impacts caused by the need to make steel, and where we can work together with local communities to increase the positive impact we can have on society. There is still an increasing need for steel, particularly in developing countries, and we need to make sure that the industry can develop accordingly.

And there are also the many benefits of using steel in product applications – new steels are lighter and stronger than before, products can be designed to be reused or remanufactured way before they need to be recycled.

Sustainability is an integral part of operating any business. Ethical and socially responsible companies need to be able to demonstrate to their stakeholders how they perform and where they are heading with respect to many aspects of environmental, social and economic governance.

Advancing the industry

As such, the launch of our new Sustainability Charter is a proud moment for worldsteel and its members. As Head of Sustainability I’m thrilled to see the work we’ve done with our member representatives to develop a Charter that better reflects the issues facing the industry today, and the issues that the steel companies are dealing with in each and every part of the world.

The Charter has been updated based on a materiality survey carried out amongst both internal and external stakeholders to the industry, including customers, NGOs and investors. The Charter therefore reflects the evolving business environment and the increasing sustainability awareness of the industry and willingness to work towards higher standards.

Demonstrating our commitment

Although we published our first Sustainable Development Charter in 2009, this is the first time that we are asking our members to show that they are actively working on 20 different areas, which all fit under one of our nine newly defined sustainability principles: climate action, the circular economy, environmental care, safety and health, our people, local communities, responsible value chains, ethical and transparent operations, and innovation and prosperity.

Those members who show that they are participating in each of worldsteel’s sustainability programmes and have standards or programmes in place within their organisations which cover the 20 criteria, will be recognised as a Charter Member for a 3-year period.

Any of our members, new or existing, can apply to be a Charter Member at any point in time as our aim is to get as many of our members aligned with our principles as possible. And it’s not just about the steel producers. Our national and regional steel association members are also able to sign up to the Charter, by demonstrating that they are also aligned with our nine principles, within the work they do in their local context.

Aligning and amplifying our sustainability credentials

We will continue to work with our members to speak with a single voice globally and to promote the work that we are doing. I take the opportunity to thank our members for their important contributions in this increasingly exciting and expanding field.

Sustainable steel for a sustainable world.