Better Places 2030: Corporate Social Responsibility at the heart of Unibail-Rodamco’s strategy
From now on, every month, UR Link will publish insights from a Unibail-Rodamco expert on a particular topic. For this first “UR Link insight”, the topic of CSR was an obvious choice since at the heart of Unibail-Rodamco’s strategy and UR Link’s sourcing. Clément Jeannin, Group Head of CSR shares about Unibail-Rodamco CSR strategy and explains why the Group is particularly interested in circular economy solutions.
UR Link: Hello Clément. Can you tell us more about Better Places 2030 ? How does Unibail-Rodamco integrates CSR issues in its strategy and operations?
Clément Jeannin: As a European leader in commercial real estate, Unibail-Rodamco must give the example and therefore set itself an ambitious strategy for sustainable development. To this end, the Group aims to reduce its carbon footprint by 50% by 2030, covering the entire value chain, including construction, operation and transportation of our visitors. This central objective allows us to encompass all of our activities and our relationships with our stakeholders (retailers, Local authorities, partners, etc.). In this program, all of our existing sites and projects must thoroughly explore environmental issues both in terms of buildings and transport, but also value creation for local communities and provide the best possible answers! Meeting our targets is critical to the Group’s long-term success and is therefore high in everyone’s agendas.
Is circular economy part of those answers? How does UR Link help you on finding innovative solutions on CSR issues?
We are convinced that circular economy must occupy an important place in the solutions allowing us to reach our objectives. This is why we are committed to minimizing material use in our development projects and to maximizing recycling in our operations on a daily basis. We also work on integrating regional actors, for example through the “Fresh!” initiative, local producers’ markets in our shopping centres.
In addition, we work on this topic with UR Link to partner with start-ups with a focus on reuse, short distribution channels and collaborative economy. We have already developed several fruitful collaborations that have allowed us to:
- Find new ways to reduce waste thanks to the start-up “Phenix” and its platform for valuation and redistribution of unsold and waste;
- Give a new life to second-hand clothes with the start-up “Dress in the City” by setting up pop-up stores in our shopping centres;
- Promote short consumption circuits with “Farmhouse-Sous les Fraises“, by selling locally products grown in urban gardens developed on the roofs of our centres.
In order to accelerate our integration of circular economy concepts and strengthen our expertise, Unibail-Rodamco has developed partnerships with key players in the circular economy ecosystem, such as Circul’R, which accompanies us on the awareness of the internal teams on this subject and on our international sourcing.
In addition, how does Unibail-Rodamco work with retailers and other stakeholders to lead an educational work together?
The Group’s success in terms of CSR and economic performance rests on the strength of its relationships with its stakeholders, including retailers, customers, investors, local communities and subcontractors, as well as its employees. That’s why we actively work on raising awareness of our partners, even though many brands are themselves very aware of the issues. They are also sensitive to the concrete actions that we undertake, such as the implementation of weight-based pricing systems for waste sorting in our shopping centres. In terms of energy efficiency, we are progressively rolling out green leases allowing the deployment of LED lighting and the supply in green electricity by tenants. Here too, our objectives are particularly ambitious: we aim to eventually reach 100% green leases in our centres. For the moment our retailers voluntarily commit to this transition through joint agreements on LED and green electricity. In 2020, any new lease signed or renewed in one of the Group’s asset will inevitably be a green lease.
Meeting our targets on environmental issues is critical to the Group’s long-term success and is therefore high in everyone’s agendasClément Jeannin
Beyond the solutions we offer, we are also convinced of the need to co-build initiatives with our brands. That’s why the UR Link team has launched in 2017 the “Club Better Retailers”, which regularly brings together the CSR and innovation managers of partner brands to work on innovative solutions to problems that we are collectively facing. This will fuel collective initiatives with retailers and start-ups on this topic!
UR Link: Finally, what are the next milestones in terms of CSR and particularly circular economy for UR?
Unibail-Rodamco will announce, in the coming weeks, a partnership with a major actor of the circular economy in France. Stay tuned!
Interview to be published in « Le Retail face aux nouveaux modes de consommation – Transformer une menace en levier de croissance » by Lucie Soulard et Estefania Larranaga co-founders of Place2Swap