Stakeholder Panel's report
On 2 March 2021 the draft annual report was discussed with a panel of seven external stakeholders. Four members of Witteveen+Bos’s CSR team were present. The stakeholders identified the strengths and provided advice regarding areas for improvement. Where possible, these recommendations have been incorporated directly into this annual report; others have been included as recommendations for next year.
Corporate social responsibility
The stakeholder panel is positive about the way in which Witteveen+Bos has positioned itself as a societally engaged organisation and acknowledges this as a common thread throughout the annual report. The panel recommends outlining how the results of the materiality analysis have been integrated into the corporate strategy, as well as how this strategy has contributed to achieving the corporate objectives. A clear, recognisable strategy is valuable for employees and clients. The sustainable design principles are an important tool for Witteveen+Bos in creating societal value in projects. The panel notes that the way in which the design principles have contributed to realising societal value in the outlined projects could be made more explicit.
The annual report provides a good reflection of Witteveen+Bos but offers little insight into the dilemmas experienced by the organisation. As well as the projects and processes that went exceptionally well last year, it is good to be transparent about what went less smoothly. In terms of sustainability, there is a gap between what we want as a society and what is possible to achieve within projects. It is worthwhile identifying where the problems lie. For instance, Witteveen+Bos may want to increase sustainability in projects faster than the client or may have to deal with different sustainability standards in international projects. Being explicit about this helps paint the real picture and provides an opportunity to learn – also for others.
The panel is very positive about measuring impact in projects. Clients want to see this in their own projects in order to gain insight into sustainability opportunities. Providing more insight into the tool’s objective and ambitions would be a valuable addition. If the ambitions are not yet clear, the advice is to indicate where in the process Witteveen+Bos currently finds itself. It is worth emphasising that, also in this respect, Witteveen+Bos is a learning organisation.
The stakeholders indicate that impact measurement mainly focuses on our contribution to SDGs, whereas societal impact is more than just SDGs. When measuring impact, the recommendation is to examine both large and small projects and exert influence at both European and municipal levels to achieve sustainability ambitions. The panel also recommends making the impact on people clear not only in numbers but also visually – for example, by highlighting people whose situation has improved as a result of Witteveen+Bos’s contribution.
The panel is particularly interested in how collaboration with chain partners went. After all, making an impact is done together with these partners. For this reason, it would be a good idea to show how Witteveen+Bos fits into the ecosystem.
Audience and form
An annual report is a means of informing but also inspiring employees, chain partners and stakeholders. The stakeholder panel recommended distributing an online version only. An online version makes unique demands, but above all offers alternative possibilities in form and in ways of reaching your audience.
Danielle de Boo, Municipality of Haarlem
Guido Custers, WarmtelinQ
Suzanne Hoeksema, The Hunger Project
Stephanie Janssen, Deltares
Dennis van Peppen, Netherlands Enterprise Agency
Bernard De Potter, Flanders Environment Agency
Jaap van Thiel de Vries, Boskalis