Building better communities through sustainable infrastructure

picture of Ben Loomes

A message from Ben Loomes, Chief Executive (December 2020)

The impact of the COVID pandemic on our sector has been to accelerate a number of sustainability trends. Our ways of working were tested and the importance of our staff and the resilience of our partners and stakeholders became even more critical with a greater reliance on digital capabilities and a focus on health and well-being. The global challenge to address our collective impact on the climate gained further momentum as the preparations for COP26 showed how governments, regulators and financial institutions are increasingly putting financial metrics against social capital. Infrastructure and the role of private capital to support a ‘build back better’ approach is a consistent theme in all of our key markets such as in the EU Green Deal and with the new Biden administration putting climate change as a national priority.

At John Laing, we have been following through on the findings from our strategic review, we now have a clear strategy for growth, a plan to optimise our portfolio and a focus on where to enhance our business to the benefit of all stakeholders. A core aspect of this will be a greater integration of ESG principles in our management decisions and processes. We have added further resource and capability to our team and will continue to engage with our partners and stakeholders in this area. This will include incorporating forward-looking scenarios aligned to established frameworks such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement targets, amongst others. Where possible, we will increase the pace of transition with greater clarity on metrics and reporting.

Recognising the common challenge to climate, environmental and social issues in all of our markets, we are committed to the Net Zero transition for our business. For our direct operations we need to do this ahead of the collective 2050 target, with clear implications for both our direct operations, our current portfolio and the choices we make in respect of our future growth. We cannot do this alone, and we will continue to collaborate with industry colleagues to make a difference.

As we have been reminded throughout the pandemic, our employees are critical to our success and with an inability to meet in person and reliance on remote and virtual working, we have increased our support for employees with particular focus on their well-being. As we come out of the pandemic, we will need to build on the lessons from lockdown, as well as capitalise on the efficiencies we have been able to achieve.

During the pandemic we have also been working with our partners and projects with a dedicated COVID-19 Communities Response Fund to support people and projects around the world.

We are integrating sustainability into how we manage our people, portfolio and operations and delivering to the values of the John Laing business in supporting others. We see the move to a sustainable economy as key to managing the long-term risks to our business and society, as well as a key theme for new investment opportunities.

For John Laing, the value of this investment in sustainability results in a stronger licence to operate with improved access to capital, more resilient assets and a more attractive place to work.