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In conversation with
António Redondo
Gestão Responsável

António Redondo

Chief Executive Officer

You took over as CEO in January 2020, a year marked by an unexpected crisis caused by the pandemic situation. What impact did this event have on the Company’s management and how did it influence the design of the 2030 Responsible Business Agenda?

António Redondo
Chief Executive Officer

The first step towards Sustainability starts precisely by adopting measures that make the business model itself sustainable. For this reason, irrespective of critical background events like the global health crisis, the priority of this management team has been, simultaneously: to build up existing business, focussing the organisation on careful management of our underlying fixed and variable costs, defining the value proposition and the resulting price strategy for those businesses, and promoting the development of our workforce and seeking out new avenues for innovation and growth.

So when we were faced with the pandemic, our response was coordinated, swift and absolutely focussed on protecting our Employees, and also our Communities. In February 2020, even before Portugal declared a state of alert, we had put our first contingency plan into action and set up a crisis management office, directly involving managers from different operational areas. We developed a governance system tailored to the health emergency and, alongside that, we put together a Business Continuity Plan, based on multiple scenarios, capable of helping us steer the Group through a highly volatile and uncertain situation, where little information was available. The crisis offered a test for our organizational capabilities, resilience and team spirit, calling on all our skills across the Company. We succeeded in adapting quickly to rapid swings in the market and effectively mitigated the consequences of the crisis on The Navigator Company’s results. I feel it is important to stress that the adversities did nothing to dampen our efforts to design our 2030 Responsible Business Agenda which, on the basis of a broadly based Stakeholder engagement exercise, made it possible to work collaboratively on identifying the most relevant issues for the Company’s future.

Navigator’s 2030 Agenda reflects our alignment with global sustainability macrotrends, such as the climate emergency and biodiversity loss, demographic and social changes, and technological innovations. The importance of contributing to the development of our Employees and of our local Communities, seeking to respond to the challenges posed by the health crisis, with a severe impact on the socio-economic fabric worldwide, is something that follows naturally from the 2030 Agenda, the conceptual and operational edifice that will guide us over the next decade. This effort is all the more relevant when we consider The Navigator Company’s vast supply chain, of structural importance to the country in view of our 7,000 suppliers, 76% of them Portuguese, with tens of thousands of forestry producers upstream and a multiplier effect of direct, indirect and induced employment all over Portugal. For this reason also, in the face of the pandemic, we took steps to support suppliers and clients, in line with the commitment set out in our corporate purpose, of sharing with society not just our results, but also our knowledge, experiences and resources, in the quest for a better future.

“Creating Value Responsibly” is a key concept of the 2030 Agenda. What does this mean for Navigator?

It is people, their quality of life and the future of the planet that inspire and motivate us - this is our commitment, expressed in The Navigator Company’s purpose. So the concept of “Creating Value Responsibly” means identifying and minimising the main impacts of our forestry and industrial operations and stepping up our positive contribution to protecting natural resources. It means creating clos relationships with our Employees, with our business partners, from forestry producers to clients, and with communities, seeking to respond to their needs and expectations. It means developing business that generates value for our Stakeholders;

It means allying technology with expertise to create increasingly sustainable products, taking advantage from the fact that cellulose and its derivatives, such as paper, are uniquely well positioned to do this. And it means responding to the urgent challenges that we face, by adding value to forests and adopting a low carbon business model.

It means allying technology with expertise to create increasingly sustainable products, taking advantage from the fact that cellulose and its derivatives, such as paper, are uniquely well positioned to do this. And it means responding to the urgent challenges that we face, by adding value to forests and adopting a low carbon business model.

What is the importance of the three strategic focus areas - Nature, Climate and Society? And how do they reflect the Company’s ambitions in the commitments and targets defined in the 2030 Roadmap, in comparison with the 2020-2025 Roadmap?

The focus areas complement each other and bring together the most pressing issues for Navigator’s 2030 Agenda, drawn up as the result of a wide-ranging process in which we listened to Stakeholders inside and outside the Company, and of our strategy reappraisal. They respond directly to the central issue cutting across the Agenda: A Responsible Business.

Nature because it is the source of life and our future, representing the legacy we want to leave to generations to come. Our products are obtained from sustainably managed forests that protect biodiversity. We know we can only continue to generate value for Society if we take care of this fundamental renewable resource. In our operations, we also apply and follow best practices in order to protect water, the air and the soil, helping to add value to natural capital, something that belongs to everyone.

Climate because we are responsible for designing and implementing low carbon solutions, such as our Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality 2035. In addition to recent investment in solar energy, the new biomass boiler at the Figueira da Foz plant will enable us to achieve a 32% reduction in total CO2 emissions by the Navigator Group, and represented capital expenditure of 55 million euros. We should not forget that our forests are also part of the solution, because of their important role in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. Products sourced from plantations with short rotation species make not only for faster sequestration, but also for carbon stocks to be recycled, because they are taken out of the forest into the various wood products, enabling us to start a new cycle of carbon sequestration through a new cycle of forestation.

Society because the essential function of companies is to generate and share sustainable value among the different groups in society who create, support and develop them (shareholders, clients, Employees, communities, suppliers, ...), thereby leading to a positive impact. We are committed to developing our Employees, to their safety and well-being. We are also committed to our local Communities, a challenge that has significantly mobilised our Company over the past year. By drawing up a Sustainability 2030 Roadmap, with specific commitments and goals on the various issues regarded as relevant to Navigator, and to our Stakeholders, we are able to face with confidence the massive challenges ahead of us on environmental, social and governance matters.

Can you point to any sustainability trend that will have a particularly strong impact on Navigator’s business in the near future?

Technological Innovation is a challenge for our business model. We have to innovate in our industrial operations, with solutions capable of minimising our environmental impacts and promoting even more efficient use of natural resources, such as water, an asset which is bothscarce and precious for human life. We have to be able to innovate socially, paying attention to emerging forms of behaviour in the field of sustainable consumption and new forms of work. And we have to help people rediscover the value of cellulose derivatives, with their multiple facets and applications, in particular as a highly recyclable and totally biodegradable packaging alternative, substituting products that are extremely carbon intensive, such as plastic.

2020 was a year of change in terms of public awareness of the importance of Sustainability, in particular on issues such as climate action and biodiversity. Do you think society will demand companies to play a different role in this field?

I’m confident it will. As in everything else, only when civil society is better informed and more up-to-date, when it expects higher standards and has a firm sense of citizenship will we be able to fulfil our individual and collective responsibility to work together in designing solutions for the severe environmental and social crises that face us. Companies are a very important part of the solution. Navigator’s 2030 Agenda is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and with the call to action to companies to play their part in building a society that is more sustainable, and so fairer and with a better future.

How will Navigator involve its Stakeholders, and its Employees in particular, in this journey towards sustainability?

It is not possible to make this ambitious Agenda a reality without the engagement of our Employees, as this Report makes clear. We started by telling all the workforce about the 2030 Agenda, asking them to draw on their insights and voice their opinion on the strategic focus areas with which they identified most, and to grade the material topics (environmental, social and governance) in terms of priority. Over the course of this year we will develop an external and internal communication plan for the 2030 Agenda, so that our Stakeholders in general, and our Employees in particular, can share and feel engaged in the commitments and goals that Navigator has established in its Sustainability Roadmap. Wide-ranging and ongoing efforts will be needed for people to buy into this Agenda, so that we can all build a Company that creates Sustainable Value in the long term. That is our Responsibility to Nature, Climate and Society.