Rising to the sustainability challenge

Steel has a vital role to play in creating a sustainable future, and as the world’s largest steel and mining company we know that, as well as opportunities, this brings with it huge challenges.

Sustainability is all about taking a long-term perspective, and that’s what we already do as a business. Steel-making and mining are industries where facilities are built and operated for many years, and are part of the same communities for decades. Steel itself is an enduring material, ideally suited for the construction of buildings and infrastructure. So we are used to planning, thinking and investing for the long term in order to create lasting value for our stakeholders, shareholders, and society as a whole.

Global challenges and opportunities

The world faces enormous challenges in the 21st century: from climate change to increasing pressures on natural resources; from the lifestyle expectations of those in the developed world, to tackling poverty at the base of the pyramid in emerging markets. These issues have a direct impact on businesses, as well as governments, civil society, and individuals. And businesses face other challenges, including the growing expectation that they should report more openly, act more responsibly, protect the environment, and support their local communities. All of these factors pose risks to companies as large as ours – risks to our profits, reputation, operations, and social licence to operate, if we fail to manage them. But they also present us with enormous opportunities, from the commercial potential of new greener products, to the innovation potential of a new generation of people entering our industry.

Steel as the fabric of sustainable living

Steel is part of the fabric of modern life, and we couldn’t live the way we do without it. Buildings, roads, bridges, railways, cars, and many domestic appliances simply wouldn’t exist without steel as a component. Steel has the potential to be one of the world’s most sustainable materials, because it’s strong, flexible and can be endlessly recycled. Innovative steel products are helping to reduce carbon emissions in vehicles and buildings, construct smarter cities, and generate renewable energy. But steel faces challenges too: we have to find ways to make steel that use less energy and emit less carbon.

As the world’s largest steel and mining company, we have a particular opportunity – and responsibility – to lead the way in ensuring steel fulfils its potential as an essential material of the future. We have the power to make a positive difference to our stakeholders and shareholders, as well as society as a whole. In order to do this, we need to address the risks and opportunities arising from social and environmental trends across our operations. We must also use our knowledge of the impacts of steel to persuade our customers - and their consumers - to make and choose products that are more sustainable. By doing this, we will ensure that the steel we make becomes the material of choice for a sustainable future.

Our 10 sustainable development outcomes

We have identified 10 sustainable development outcomes that will help us achieve this by defining the kind of company we want to be. We will create value as we progress against these outcomes. We are developing a new sustainable development framework around the outcomes that will help us secure the commercial success of our business in the medium term, while contributing to solving the world’s sustainable development challenges in the long term. This is good for society, good for our stakeholders and good for us.