The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

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Case study: DEWA’s policies and procedures for managing its environmental impacts

Realizing that environmental protection is key not only to its continued success but also to ensuring the wellbeing of future generations, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) seeks to minimize its impact on the surrounding ecosystem through a range of policies and initiatives.

This case study is based on the 2014 Sustainability Report by DEWA published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate that CSR/ sustainability reporting done responsibly is achieved by identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment and stakeholders and by measuring, managing and changing.

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As the sole supplier of electricity and water to the Emirate of Dubai, owning, operating and maintaining power stations and desalination plants, aquifers, power and water transmission lines and power and water distribution networks a top priority for the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is minimizing its environmental footprint. After measuring and setting targets, DEWA took action to implement an ISO-14001 certified environmental management system, comply with all relevant environmental regulations, protect ecosystems, minimize air emissions, implement an effective waste management system and embed sustainability values throughout its supply chain.

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2014 Sustainability Report DEWA identified a range of material issues, such as economic development, energy efficiency and climate change, water availability and quality, employee and customer relations, stakeholders and communities. Among these, [tweetthis]managing its environmental impacts stands out as a key material issue for DEWA[/tweetthis] as the sole supplier of electricity and water to the Emirate of Dubai, providing services today to more than 730,000 customers.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups DEWA engages with:

Stakeholder Group

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

DEWA’s business is answerable to Dubai’s residents, the communities it works in, its own employees and those it works with including the government, suppliers and partners. DEWA’s stakeholders are identified as those categories of individuals, groups and institutions whose contribution is required for DEWA to carry out its mission. It is important that DEWA effectively engages with all its stakeholders so that it can understand what is expected from it on important issues. To achieve this DEWA has established a range of engagement channels, including satisfaction surveys and road-shows, joint ventures and collaboration with government authorities on regulatory priorities, student visits, awareness sessions, media events, marketing campaigns, topic-specific surveys, seminars, direct  customer feedback, one-on-one meetings, supplier engagement, customer suggestion schemes, mystery shoppers, sustainability stakeholder workshops and Public Private Partnerships.

DEWA’s annual Stakeholder Satisfaction Survey addresses its stakeholders’ expectations regarding several issues related to DEWA and each group. Sustainability is embedded in DEWA’s vision, so it is important to ensure the sustainability knowledge is well communicated to its stakeholders. Based on that, DEWA has developed tailored questions that are related to sustainability in each of its stakeholder surveys. The 2014 results of the stakeholder satisfaction surveys revealed that, across all of its stakeholder groups, the majority of respondents were highly aware of DEWA’s approach to sustainability and were broadly satisfied with its performance.

In 2014, for the second consecutive year, DEWA hosted its annual stakeholder sustainability workshops in DEWA’s sustainable building in Al-Quoz, to further the dialogue on sustainability with its stakeholders. The findings from the workshops have provided it with deep insight into what its stakeholders valued and which sustainability issues were most important to them.

What actions were taken by DEWA to manage its environmental impacts?

In its 2014 Sustainability Report DEWA set the following targets for managing its environmental impacts, based on the company’s approach to materiality – on taking action on what matters, where it matters:

  • Implementing an ISO-14001 certified environmental management system

To ensure that it effectively manages environmental risks and meets industry and legal standards, DEWA has implemented an ISO-14001 certified environmental management system (EMS) which has been maintained at the corporate level since 2006 and in its Generation division since 1998. It has provided the foundation for continuous improvement in the way DEWA manages its environmental impacts. The success of DEWA’s environmental management system has been recognized by the British Safety Council (BSC), with DEWA maintaining the BSC Environment 5 Star certification since 2011. DEWA has also won the BSC’s Globe of Honour, achieving, in 2014, full marks for the third consecutive year in recognition of its commitment to achieve all-round excellence in environmental management. DEWA was the first utility in the MENA region to achieve this award and one of only four companies worldwide to be awarded with both the Globe of Honour and the Sword of Honor in Health and Safety from the British Safety Council in 2014.

  • Complying with all relevant environmental regulations

DEWA complies with all relevant environmental regulations set forth by both the UAE Federal Government and the Dubai Municipality. These regulations set standards for regulating aspects of health, safety, security and environmental quality and impose civil and criminal penalties for any violations. In addition, DEWA also complies with any special permit provisions where it operates in environmentally sensitive areas. During 2014, it has not been in violation of any environmental regulations nor has it received any complaints relating to environmental matters.

  • Protecting ecosystems

Prior to the construction of any new DEWA project, an environmental impact assessment is first conducted by independent consultants, using international standards, before any construction can commence. To ensure a healthy marine ecosystem, DEWA also commissions specialist consultants to conduct ecological surveys throughout the year so as to monitor the populations of marine organisms in its area of operations. While environmental specialists monitor its wastewater discharge points to identify any potentially harmful algal blooms that could lead to ‘red tide’ events – these are events where algae grow out of control, produce toxins and deplete oxygen in the water, which is harmful to other marine life and DEWA’s water production facilities. Additionally, contingency plans are in place to combat red tide and oil slick events in the Arabian Gulf to ensure that potable water is safe and in line with the World Health Organisation’s Drinking Water Guidelines.

  • Minimizing air emissions

Air emissions have adverse effects on DEWA’s local climate, ecosystems and air quality. In Dubai, regulations are in place to control nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions. Due to continuous improvement in the efficiency of DEWA’s plants, DEWA has achieved excellence in NOx and SO2 emission reduction. DEWA’s strategy to reduce NOx emissions starts at the design stage of any power and water plant by specifying stringent NOx emission limits for gas turbines. For example, its average annual NOx emissions from all units for 2014 were 21.15ppm, inclusive of all fuel types, gas turbines and boilers, which is less than the UAE Federal Government requirement of 37ppm and the European Union Requirement (Large Combustion Plant Directive 2001 for Plant Built After 2003) of 27ppm. Additionally, DEWA has introduced innovative technical solutions, which have resulted in single digit NOx emission levels in its major stations. With regards to SO2 emissions, DEWA has maintained very low emissions due to the burning of sweet natural gas. Regarding the stand by diesel fuel, DEWA has started procuring diesel fuel with 10ppm sulphur content instead of 500ppm sulphur content, in line with the 2014 UAE Government Federal Regulations.

  • Implementing an effective waste management system

DEWA has implemented an effective waste management system, through which it aims to reduce the amount of solid and liquid waste it produces by using resources efficiently and recycling or recovering when possible. Its waste management system allows it to be completely compliant with all relevant national and international regulations, policies and procedures. DEWA is also in the process of benchmarking its waste management system with other organisations internationally. Reducing its waste not only minimizes DEWA’s environmental impact, but also generates cost savings. In 2014, it earned AED 830,020 from selling scrap waste materials from its Jebel Ali power station complex. An example of the business benefits of waste management is evident in DEWA’s efforts to recycle waste oils. In the Jebel Ali power station complex, used lubricant, transformer and hydraulic oils are recycled for use in boiler furnaces when oil firing is required. Additionally, large amounts of insulation oil are used in distribution equipment for insulation and cooling. By using recycled oil DEWA is able to significantly reduce its consumption of new oil and minimize waste (and the associated costs for waste disposal). In 2014, it has recovered 19,143 liters of oil for reuse. While closed loop gas analysers at substations are used to reduce SF6 gas emissions. Additionally, wastewater is recovered from its power stations and reused – during 2014 DEWA recovered 266 MIG of wastewater.

  • Embedding sustainability values throughout the supply chain

DEWA has launched the Green Procurement Program at WETEX 2013, with the aim of rolling it out throughout its supply chain. The program aims to assess the environmental consequences of the products purchased by DEWA at the various stages of the product’s lifecycle to help DEWA avoid selecting products with adverse environmental impacts. Contracts are awarded based on a range of conventional criteria, but suppliers with certified environmental management systems have an additional advantage. DEWA is also interested in purchasing products that reduce energy, contain recycled materials, are less toxic and can help conserve water or address social impacts. DEWA is committed to business practices that adhere to international standards. Since 2009, DEWA has been certified to SA8000. An internal network of SA8000 representatives and auditors ensure compliance in this area, on a regular basis, through a process that includes conducting site visits and awareness sessions for DEWA’s employees. DEWA is extending this commitment to good labor standards to its supply chain, including its contractors, subcontractors and suppliers.

Which GRI indicators/Standards have been addressed?

The GRI indicators/Standards addressed in this case are:

1) G4-EN21: NOx, SOx, and other significant air emissions – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 305-7 Nitrogen oxides (NO X ), sulfur oxides (SO X ), and other significant air emissions

2) G4-EN23: Total weight of waste by type and disposal method – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 306-2 Waste by type and disposal method

3) G4-EN25: Weight of transported, imported, exported, or treated waste deemed hazardous under the terms of the Basel Convention (2) Annex I, II, III, and VIII, and percentage of transported waste shipped internationally – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 306-4 Transport of hazardous waste

4) G4-EN26: Identity, size, protected status, and biodiversity value of water bodies and related habitats significantly affected by the organization’s discharges of water and runoff – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 306-5 Water bodies affected by water discharges and/or runoff

5) G4-EN27: Extent of impact mitigation of environmental impacts of products and services

6) G4-EN29: Monetary value of significant fines and total number of non-monetary sanctions for non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 307-1 Non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations

7) G4-EN32: Percentage of new suppliers that were screened using environmental criteria – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 308-1 New suppliers that were screened using environmental criteria



1) This case study is based on published information by DEWA, located at the links below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the following links: (May 2016)




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