To complement and strengthen the work being carried out to support Holcim Group in developing “robust ecosystem conservation standards”, country based agreements between IUCN and Holcim country operations are being actively promoted to address and resolve site specific issues and to support country level implementation of Holcim Group policies and recommendations.
As of today, country agreements have been established in:
- Sri Lanka (March 2007)
- Vietnam (February 2008)
- Costa Rica - Nicaragua (August 2008)
- Spain (March 2009)
- China (March 2010)
Holcim Lanka and IUCN Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 6th March 2007. It resonates the signing of the three-year co-operation agreement on 19 February 2007 between Holcim Ltd (Holcim Lanka’s parent company) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in Switzerland in order to develop new eco-system conservation standards for the Holcim Group.
This partnership’s estimated investment for the initial 5 year programme is approximately US$ 1million, with nearly 70% from Holcim Lanka and the balance to be leveraged by IUCN SL.
Among the policy components currently carried out by Holcim Group companies, including Holcim Lanka, are improved quarry management and quarry rehabilitation, protection of endangered species and critical ecosystems, development of sustainable livelihoods, decreased use of fossil energy and recycling of waste. This partnership will further enhance Holcim Lanka’s environmental performance by way of biodiversity conservation.
For the five-year period 2007-2012, the two parties have agreed on a set of four projects, namely:
- Biodiversity conservation at Holcim Lanka’s limestone quarry
- Rehabilitation of mined coral reefs
- Adding value to the development of bio-fuel
- Improvement of the Puttalam environment
Biodiversity conservation at Holcim Lanka’s limestone quarry:
Holcim Lanka’s limestone Quarry is situated in Aruwakkalu, some 25km north to Puttalam town. Its mining and rehabilitation activities proceed on the basis of an Environmental Protection License and rehabilitation of the quarried areas is a solid element of the company’s Environmental Management System. The project on biodiversity conservation at this quarry aims to further accelerate the restoration of biodiversity and landscape values to an optimum pace in the rehabilitated areas where the limestone has been extracted. Among the main activities of this project are baseline biodiversity assessment, long term monitoring, preparation of a conservation management plan (including the establishment of a refuge site open for visitors), and development of social and community outreach programmes.
Rehabilitation of mined coral Reefs:
Coral reefs along the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka have been long exploited for lime production and the resulting destruction of the reef foundations has eliminated coral re-growth. The main cause of this disaster is to supply lime for masonry construction. Although sea coral mining is now banned, threats to corals still exist in various forms, such as illegal mining. Widespread use of Holcim Pedereru cement, which does not require lime for masonry construction, will contribute to save the remaining coral stands to a certain extent. As a pilot project on rehabilitation of mined coral reefs, this project targets to enhance and conserve marine biodiversity through rehabilitation of degraded marine habitats along the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka. This project will establish artificial reefs paving the way for coral growth and long term livelihood support for local fishermen, while creating public awareness on the importance of coral reefs.
Adding value to the development of bio-fuel:
Actively seeking to replace its non-renewable fossil fuel energy resources by more sustainable ones, Holcim Lanka will initially develop fuel wood plantations to supply its power plant project and will then take measures to eventually replace its kiln fuel by bio fuels. The main resources of bio fuels under consideration are sawdust and fuel wood from short rotation plantations. The company has begun fuel wood plantations within the Puttalam plant premises and will expand the cultivation to outside the plant premises and create livelihood support for surrounding communities. Responsible forestation can increase biodiversity and the IUCNSL will assist Holcim Lanka to achieve optimum biodiversity conservation at its fuel wood plantations that will provide non-fossil fuel for its power plant and kilns.
Improvement of the Puttalam environment:
Solid waste is a growing problem in the urban areas of Sri Lanka and Puttalam is no exception. As a solution to this problem, the IUCNSL has developed a model, which separates solid waste at the source into compostable and non-compostable fractions. The compostable part is used for making compost for home gardening while the non-compostable part is dumped at locations designated by the relevant local authority. Under Holcim Lanka-IUCNSL partnership, the properly separated non-compostable part of waste generated in Puttalam will be recovered by way of cement kiln co-processing, which is a well-established, safe and environmentally sound waste treatment method recognized around the world.
Meanwhile three more projects have been identified as “future projects”:
- The project on conservation management at Bar reef Puttalam, to conserve marine biodiversity through protection of valuable bar reef sanctuary
- The project on conservation management at Rumassala reef Galle, to conserve marine biodiversity through protection of Rumassala marine sanctuary
- The project on biodiversity conservation in Sri Lanka’s marine environment, to raise the public awareness levels on marine ecosystems and their value
A country Programme Agreement was signed in February 2008 between the Viet Nam Country Office of IUCN and Holcim Viet Nam. This five-year agreement aims at building a lasting relationship between the two parties, to establish and implement optimum ecosystem conservation standards for Holcim Viet Nam, and to contribute to improvements in environmental performance of the Holcim Group, the cement sector and related sectors in Viet Nam.
Specifically, there will be collaborations on two levels. At the policy level, IUCN helps Holcim to integrate environmental considerations (Corporate Environmental and Social Responsibility - CESR) across the Holcim chain in Viet Nam. This includes facilitation for Holcim’s engagement in the wider CESR agenda of the country and facilitation for dialogue on environment and conservation issues among the private sector, the government and the civil society. At the field level, IUCN helps design and implement an integrated karst management plan for the area close to the Holcim site in the Ha Tien plains.
IUCN Mesoamerica – Holcim agreement (Costa Rica and Nicaragua)
The agreement between IUCN Mesoamerica and Holcim (Costa Rica, Nicaragua), entered into force on August 26, 2008. It is valid for 2 years and can be renewed based on the parties’ mutual agreement. This regional initiative is an integral part of the Global Partnership Agreement between IUCN and Holcim, signed on February 2007.
Thus, the Memorandum of Understanding between IUCN Mesoamerica and Holcim responds to the mutual interest of these organizations in developing joint initiatives that contribute to the conservation of nature, promotion of sustainable environmental and social practices related to the cement industry and the construction sector in general.
The main lines of work identified under the IUCN Mesoamerica-Holcim Agreement are the following:
1. Sharing knowledge on environmental management, biodiversity conservation and sustainable building.
2. Cooperation in land use planning, environmental management and building practices adapted to climate change, enhancing the scope of both institutions’ projects
3. Guidelines design for environmental management and assessment in relation to landscape, building wastes, tourism and non-metallic mining.
4. Joint analysis for the design of quarries rehabilitation plans for 3 Holcim sites in Costa Rica.
5. Policy advocacy strategy regarding land use planning, waste management and sustainable construction practices
6. Strategy design to support the development of Small and Medium Enterprises for local communities located around the Holcim cement plant in Nagarote, Nicaragua.
After technical meetings and site visits in 2008, IUCN-Med and HOLCIM Spain signed a first cooperation agreement on 12 March 2009 to start a short term relationship including a series of common activities and a strategic vision between the 2 parties. The global objective of this initial agreement is to integrate ecosystem conservation and restoration work in Holcim’s operations in Spain.
The two parties agreed on working in 3 different thematic areas at both regional and national level gathering the different experiences, actors and knowledge:
- To develop a Communication Tool to spread the good practices of quarry restoration in Spain.
- To implement some Field work at selected site level aiming at providing guidance on key elements for the integration of ecological aspects for the restoration plan of a pilot quarry site.
- To work together on the Strategic planning of future activities and define a future action plan
To achieve those targets, IUCN-Med has contributed to the development of the HOLCIM initiative relative to the publication of a book about restoration of the specific site of the Gravera el Puente. The area is found in the Vega Baja del Jarama, very close to the city of Aranjuez, occupying terrain situated at both banks of the river. The quarry had been operational in the area for around ten years, and restoration efforts have produced very positive results. The purpose of this publication will be to highlight risks and opportunities relevant to the restoration of quarries at the national level. It is scheduled to be launched during the II National Congress organized by the Federation of Cement producers to take place from 1 to 3 October 2009 in Valencia, Spain.
IUCN–Med will also be supporting Holcim through providing guidance on key elements for the integration of ecological aspects for the restoration plan of the quarry Torredonjimeno (Jaen, municipio de Jamilena) and an aggregate quarry through site visits, expert advice, and engagement of local communities.
The 6-month agreement will finalise in September 2009. An action plan for future cooperation activities is currently under discussion.
A program agreement was signed in March 2010 between IUCN China and Huaxin Cement Co., Ltd. (Huaxin). This four-month agreement is within the framework of the global cooperation between Holcim Group of Companies (a major shareholder of Huaxin Cement) and IUCN, which is aimed at development robust ecosystem conservation standards for the Holcim Group, contributing to sector-wide improvements.
The project objective is to provide Huaxin with data on the plant species and vegetation types at its two sites (Huangshi and Chibi) and preliminary recommendations for management of these resources. The recommendations will focus on:
How plant species, vegetation types and relevant biodiversity resources can be included in site rehabilitation planning
benefits that can be provided by the ecosystem services/functions supported by the local biodiversity (for example, the potential of wetlands for sediment traps and biodiversity conservation).
This will be achieved by undertaking rapid biodiversity assessments of two Huaxin sites, with a focus on vegetation and habitats occurring in and around the site. It will be documented in a report describing the features surveyed and making preliminary recommendations for rehabilitation planning, and how ecosystem function can be considered in Huaxin’s processes.
For the project, IUCN will provide the scientific, technical and management support that Huaxin needs to effectively manage the biodiversity impact of its operations and secure for it self a better business future. IUCN will also support scientific research, manages field projects all over the world and brings governments, non-government organizations, United Nations agencies, companies and local communities together to develop and implement policy, laws and best practice.
The 4-month agreement was completed in June 2010.