At Boralex, ESG issues are part of our growth strategy
On June 17, 2021, on the occasion of our 2021 Investor Day, we presented our new 2025 strategic plan. Built around the four strategic directions that have guided our work since 2019, the plan introduces new targets and has our CSR strategy embedded at every level.
One of our targets for 2025, ranking as high as our financial goals, is to become the leading CSR reference for our partners by going beyond renewable energy.
Our CSR approach is embedded in our corporate strategy to support the sustainable growth of our organisation. It also helps ensure that we can deliver superior longterm financial returns for our shareholders while working collaboratively with our host communities and regions.
Our 2021 Corporate Social Responsibility Report
In February 2022, we published our second Corporate Social Responsibility report, which brings together all our actions and progress in environmental, societal and governance issues.
CSR achievements of the first quarter of 2022
A first sustainability-linked loan in 2021
In 2021, we secured our first sustainability-linked loan, attesting to our commitment, our ambition and our willingness to integrate CSR performance into everything we do, including into our financial mechanisms.
Sustainability-linked loans include financial terms linked to sustainability performance targets negotiated and agreed between the lender and the borrower. The terms cover elements ranging from energy efficiency to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from operations, for the full period of the loan. Thus, the better the borrower performs against the targets agreed with the lender, the more advantageous the borrowing terms, and vice versa.
Boralex’s progress in ESG in 2021
After laying the groundwork for our CSR strategy in early 2021, we were able to really get to work during the rest of the year. With ESG issues being an integral part of our 2025 Strategic Plan, we immediately began major work across the company.
Environment – Producing Renewable Energy in a Sustainable and Resilient Manner
- Prevented the release of 352,666 tons of CO2 in 2021 through renewable energy generation, up 24% from 2020
- Our target for 2025 is 781,773 tons of CO2 avoided
- Reported a decline in emissions since 2019 in first carbon footprint assessment
Society – Respect our People, our Planet and our Community
- Launched Apuait project (200 MW), a 50-50 joint venture with Innu communities in Quebec
- Joined the Equal by 30 campaign to get more women into the technical fields.
- Developed and instituted an Indigenous cultures course, with a completion rate of 93% for target employees in North America and 96% in Canada
- Committed to fill 35% of open positions with women
- Set a new target of 27.5% of women in management positions by 2025
- Signed the Solar Industry Forced Labor Prevention Pledge, a formal, collective commitment to help ensure that the solar supply chain is free of forced labour
Governance – Leading by Example
- Updated our sustainable procurement charter to clarify our CSR expectations for our suppliers
- Achieved 36% representation of women on the Board of Directors
- Hired a CSR Director as a CEO direct report
- Established an internal committee to oversee the implementation of the 11 recommendations of the TCFD
Our ambitions for 2022
As this report shows, 2021 was primarily devoted to formalizing our CSR efforts and setting up a CSR governance structure. As a result, the foundations are now in place to empower us to work toward our 10 CSR priorities, in line with Boralex’s strategic plan.
Looking ahead to 2022, we will build further on this progress through a series of ambitious goals, as outlined in our CSR 2021 report on pages 60 and 61. See it here.
CSR distinctions for Boralex
EcoVadis, a sustainability and CSR rating organization, awarded Boralex a silver medal in 2022 for its performance in this area for its activities in France, which placed the Corporation in the 95th percentile in its industry. Among other notable achievements, Boralex stood out for its CO2 emissions record, responsible sourcing, and measures supporting diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity.
This built off Boralex’s previous ‘silver’ designation by EcoVadis in 2021 with a score of 65/100, ranking it in the 92nd percentile at the time. This higher rating underscored the Corporation’s CSR efforts over the previous year.
Board Games, the Globe and Mail’s ranking of Canada’s corporate boards using a set of governance criteria designed to go beyond rules imposed by regulators. As part of this initiative, researchers at the David and Sharon Johnston Centre for Corporate Governance Innovation at the University of Toronto evaluated the boards of 220 S&P/TSX Composite Index companies and trusts on their corporate governance practises. Boralex ranked 105th in this prestigious Canadian ranking, moving up from 125th in 2020.
IR Magazine Awards – Canada 2022
Boralex has been selected as a finalist for the Investor Relations Magazine Awards - Canada 2022 in the Best ESG Reporting category. This award recognizes company that were able to meet the demands of shareholders looking for substance in ESG reporting.
Materiality analysis: a critical step in defining our csr priorities
Materiality analysis is an essential step of our CSR approach to identify the environmental, societal and governance (ESG) issues that are most important to the Corporation and our key stakeholders, and should therefore be prioritised in our efforts.
In 2020, we conducted 21 interviews with various stakeholders – investors, municipalities, non-governmental organizations, associations and employees – based on a selection of 18 relevant ESG issues. These were identified based on Boralex’s most important potential impacts on society and the environment; and the drivers that could affect positively or negatively our company’s value. This assessment led to the definition of a materiality matrix that maps out the most significant sustainability issues for Boralex’s stakeholders.
Based on this matrix and the extra-financial risks inherent in the Corporation’s activity, we identified 10 priorities and grouped them under the three ESG commitments that guide our actions: leading by example (governance), producing renewable energy in a sustainable and resilient manner (environment) and respecting our people, our planet and our community (society). These priorities reflect our organization’s most important contribution to society and the environment, as well as being factors that can have a positive or negative impact on the Corporation’s value. In this report, we make a clear link between our achievements, our commitments and the associated priorities.
In 2021, during our regular interactions with stakeholders, we repeatedly validated that these priorities were still relevant and whether any new stakeholder concerns were emerging.
We have aligned our 2021 CSR report with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) framework. As Boralex has a strong presence in France, we have also taken into account the non-financial performance framework (Déclaration de performance extrafinancière, or DPEF) used in that country since 2019. Finally, we have indicated how actions contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and selected indicators of the Global Reporting Initiative.
Our approach to managing the impacts and risks related to our activities
An action plan based on risk assessment has been developed to deepen our understanding of certain risks, introduce or enhance mitigation measures and foster a risk management culture. We categorize the risks we face into four principal areas: strategic, operational, financial and corporate.
Given what we do, the energy transition and the desire to stay within a 1.5 °C warming scenario mostly means opportunities for Boralex. We have therefore decided to aim for geographic and technological diversification of our sources of energy production to reduce our overall vulnerability to climate events.