Through the Egyptian Revolution of January 25th 2011, the whole environment around SEKEM has changed. Although this will demand challenging adjustments on many different levels from our side, we are happy and excited about the coming time. SEKEM has dreamed of a better Egypt since the beginning. Now, Egyptians throughout the whole country are willing and full of enthusiasm to bring about change, longing for a better life and a promising future. Our goal will be to fill the current vacuum of disorientation, another effect of the sudden uprising, with a strong vision for sustainable development.
What makes us so confident facing these new developments is an extremely successful business year 2010 that clearly shows the pay-off of our constant efforts in the field of sustainable development. With this fourth Report on Sustainable Development, we would like to share with you our progress, as well as our challenges, in relation to each of the four dimensions of sustainable development: Economic Life, Societal Life and Cultural Life, embedded in our planet’s Ecology. Given our experience in the field of sustainability reporting we focus much more on our weaknesses this year.
We perceive 2010 as an important milestone in our sustainable development reporting activities as the first threeyear cycle of target setting has come to an end. We definitely learned how to improve our target setting process and will apply this in the upcoming period. We succeeded in matching our Sustainability Flower with the GRI standard as well as with the ten principles of the UN Global Compact. For the year 2011, we are planning to focus on further developing and revising our reporting in accordance with the Sustainability Flower. Also we want to explore further potential to align our reporting to the recently published ISO 26000 guidelines.
We have made big steps in 2010 in all of the four sustainability dimensions. Our economic performance has improved: sales reached the target and increased by 15.7% with a profit margin of 7.9%. Besides of that, we have developed our sustainability risk assessment and gap analysis on a company level, as well as monitoring and strict alignment to our sustainability strategy. Our cultural activities were highlighted by the first bachelor graduates in eurhythmy in the whole of Egypt. Moreover, we have 17 running R&D projects in various different topics such as phyto-pharmaceuticals, soil-borne pathogens and the development of educational materials for Egyptian schools. We are additionally facing the challenge of enhancing a fully implemented one-year training plan for every single employee. Our societal and political involvement has focused on the empowerment of social workers in all companies, as well as continuous gender empowerment. As for our ecological impact, we are strictly adhering to the Demeter standard of cultivation and keeping animals. Furthermore, we succeeded in starting our own seed and seedling production and sales; these are extremely resistant to pests and the like and decrease the need for pesticides and chemical fertilizers in conventional agriculture. Although our ecological footprint is – compared to conventional agricultural cultivation and companies – relatively low, we are still aiming to decrease it further, mostly through assessment, monitoring and evaluation of our full impact in order to implement comprehensive long-term solutions that adhere to best-practice standards.
This is the beginning of a new era in Egypt; our country will change and we in SEKEM will do our very best to steer this change towards a more sustainable future and provide a living example for long-term competitiveness.