In order to be able to properly carry out our mission and strategy, we maintain relationships with many different stakeholders.
We identify our stakeholders by the extent to which our activities affect them, and the extent to which they can have an influence on our organisation or operations. Our stakeholders include our customers, our partners in participations, our shareholder, employees, the local community, policy-makers, public authorities, regulatory bodies, investors, suppliers, the media, interest groups and social advocacy organisations. We attach great importance to knowing the interests of our stakeholders and taking them into account in our decision-making. In our stakeholder table (see Annex 6), we provide more details about our most important stakeholders and their interests, as well as relevant points of discussion and the outcomes of these discussions.
We exchange most information through personal contact with our stakeholders. This approach is taken at all levels within the company, and by all departments. Our Executive Board is also closely involved in this process, and has frequent contact with different stakeholders during the year, varying from the shareholder and political representatives to advocacy organisations and customers. In addition, we communicate through channels such as our website, social media and newsletters.
We are represented in various partnerships and consultative bodies (see Annex 5, Chain responsibility). One of these is the interest group for the gas sector, Koninklijke Vereniging van Gasfabrikanten Nederland (KVGN). Since September 2016, Han Fennema is the chairman of KVGN.
When reporting on our results in our annual report, we believe it is important to take our stakeholders’ opinions into account. That is why, in 2016, we updated the materiality analysis we carried out in 2015 (see Materiality), asking stakeholders from various groups what they think of their relationship with Gasunie. These opinions can be read in various places throughout this annual report.
European New Year’s meeting in Brussels
Together with the Dutch Permanent Representation to the EU, we organised a New Year’s reception in Brussels on 5 January 2016. Together with our European stakeholders, we celebrated the New Year and reflected on the start of the Dutch EU Presidency for the coming six months. In addition, we exchanged views on the energy transition, the European energy policy and our strategy with regard to these themes.
Together with the Dutch ambassador to Belgium, Pieter de Gooijer, and some members of the Supervisory Board, Gasunie CEO Han Fennema and CFO René Oudejans received representatives of European organisations, the European member states, Dutch ministries and the European energy sector, among others. Vice-President of the European Commission and former prime minister of Finland, Jyrki Katainen, was the keynote speaker at the event. He stressed the importance of having a stable and affordable energy supply for employment and economic growth in Europe.
Roundtable meeting North Netherlands
On 27 January 2016, six representatives of organisations and stakeholder groups in North Netherlands (i.e., the municipality of Groningen, the province of Drenthe, education, residents of Groningen and businesses) took part in a roundtable discussion with Han Fennema and René Oudejans. The aim of this discussion was to enter into a dialogue about our activities, our reputation and our efforts for the North Netherlands region.
The main conclusions that we, together with the participants, arrived at were as follows:
- We need to join forces with all relevant parties in the North to further develop the region as a European energy region.
- Gasunie can and should take the initiative to accelerate the transition towards a CO2-neutral energy supply.
In 2016, we took steps to follow up both these conclusions (see Our results).
Dialogue meeting on the energy transition
On 19 April 2016, we organised a dialogue meeting in Scheveningen on the role of gas and gas infrastructure in the energy transition. We discussed this topic with more than one hundred representatives of, among others, the Dutch parliament, the ministries, other energy companies and NGOs.
Hans Grünfeld (Managing Director of VEMW, the Dutch Association for Energy, the Environment and Water), Bernice Notenboom (climate journalist and professional adventurer) and Jan Paul van Soest (sustainability consultant, author and columnist) participated as speakers. Subsequently, Stientje van Veldhoven (member of the Dutch House of Representatives) commented on the three speeches and participated in the discussion. Gasunie was represented by members of the Executive Board, the Supervisory Board and several of their employees from Groningen and The Hague. The meeting was also part of the Energy Dialogue of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. It is important for us to have a clear presence in the discussion on energy and climate. By taking on an active role in the energy debate now, we will also be able to play our role in the future.
Sustainable dialogue with our local communities through Strategic Environs Management
As a company serving the public interest, we highly value good relationships with our local communities. We cannot carry out our work without the support of the communities around us. We have noticed that social forces around us are becoming more assertive. It is no longer self-evident that we build new infrastructure or carry out maintenance work. We therefore use the Strategic Environs Management (SEM) method to focus our attention on our local communities. This means that, for our activities and projects, we carefully consider the parties we are dealing with. We map their interests and assess the similarities and differences. In this way, we take each other’s interests into account as much as possible, so we can build a sustainable relationship. Last year, we organised several internal training sessions within Gasunie to familiarise our colleagues with this approach. Some 50 employees took part in these sessions.
Many more parties are aware of the growing importance of good environs management to be able to carry out their work well. Together with the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, social organisations and other companies from the energy sector, we therefore set up a platform to exchange knowledge, enabling us to benefit from each other’s experiences, good or bad. This platform is called LEO (Lerend platform Energie and Omgeving, ‘Energy and Environment Learning Platform’).
Consultation with governments
Laws, regulations, policies and other government decisions have a major impact on our activities. At the same time, we are a discussion partner for the government when it comes to national and international energy policy. We aim to be a knowledgeable and constructive partner for the government at all levels. With regard to the activities we carry out, we regularly consult with local and other authorities, for example, about laws and regulations and licences. We also regularly consult with national and international political stakeholders. These consultations mainly take place at our offices in The Hague, Hannover and Brussels. Thanks to our local presence, we are able to develop and maintain good relationships with the various governmental stakeholders.
Talking to customers
Each year, we organise a number of ‘Shipper Meetings’ for our customers. These meetings serve as information meetings and as discussion and networking platforms. At these meetings, we discuss the developments in the gas market and the products and services of GTS. In addition, customers with specific questions may request an individual consultation. In 2016, we organised Shipper Meetings in June and December. These were attended by some 100 customers. The December Shipper Meeting focused fully on individual consultations.