Opinion of the Alliander stakeholder panel
For the fourth successive occasion Alliander has organised a stakeholder panel to review its Annual Report. Our feedback on the 2018 Annual Report is summarised in this statement. We believe that this will enable Alliander to gear the report more closely to the wishes and needs of the stakeholders.
We are pleased with the invitation from Alliander to its stakeholders to provide feedback on the annual report. The stakeholder panel was involved in the report writing process a month earlier than in previous years. We realise that this early involvement means we were reviewing a draft report that was at a less advanced stage but we are appreciative of the fact that, by convening the panel sooner, the organisation was creating greater scope for taking its comments into account.
Alliander’s annual report is easy to read and clearly structured. The information in the report gives a fascinating insight into Alliander’s activities and the challenges facing the company. The document gives a clear and connected account of the policy pursued and the results achieved. The panel nevertheless feels that in some instances the way the report is worded and the structure of the report do not really do justice to the progressive aspirations of the company. For our part, Alliander could take a bolder stance. In the interests of transparency we suggest not just giving comparative figures for the preceding year but going farther back in time in more places. There also needs to be a critical assessment of the ‘decision usefulness’ of the reported activities and results: are they relevant to policy decisions?
Selection of themes of material importance
In preparing the annual report, Alliander proceeds on the basis of the materiality analysis. This exercise was repeated last year. And we observe that the results of the analysis are adequately reflected in the accountability document. However, it occurs to us that some of the selected themes are treated differently as a result of the revised prioritisation and the order in which they are covered does not really reflect the collective challenges facing Alliander but tends to represent a combination of individual stakeholder interests instead. We do not really comprehend the themes and do not entirely agree with them. Maybe the report could make it clear how the selection was arrived at and re-examine the analysis underpinning subsequent reports.
Alliander’s role in the energy transition
The energy transition is in full swing. From the statement by the CFO we conclude that the role which Alliander has to play has become more challenging than in other years. It is now up to the municipal authorities and other players to play their part. Alliander needs to do what is right. That will make the message in the report more reactionary in nature. The panel would nevertheless like to read more about the position adopted by Alliander. There is nothing in the report yet about such things as the Regional Energy Strategies, the implications of the Energy Transition (Progress) Act and the new players such as housing associations. Dilemmas could be brought into sharper focus. The examples of the connection of wind turbines in Flevoland ‘at the lowest possible social cost’ and the energy supply in the Marker Wadden that were discussed in the stakeholder meetings fire the imagination and are enlightening. They give Alliander colour and offer the reader an insight into the complex questions that the company has to deal with.
Treating stakeholders as partners
A great many of the report’s readers partner Alliander in some way when it comes to the energy transition. The challenges facing Alliander are widely shared and can only be successfully addressed through partnership. These readers could be more closely involved in the Alliander narrative and what the organisation stands for. They would like to see categorically stated that Alliander is tackling the energy transition together with partners. In recent years, Alliander has been visiting the various municipalities and, last year, organised Masterclasses. What is it that readers can take away from that? And in what way can readers help Alliander? The report contains an open invitation to readers to say what they think about it but we would like to see this expanded to include a ‘wish list’ of topics, allowing the partnership to become more formalised.
We note that Alliander made further progress during the year in the quantification of impacts, i.e. the effects that society experiences as a result of an organisation’s operations. We appreciate Alliander’s ambitions in this area. The effect this has on social capital comes particularly strongly to the fore this year. We recommend investigating on what impacts Alliander has a unique contribution to make. As with the selection of the SDGs, we would like to see evidence of the way in which Alliander uses these goals to guide its strategy and policy.
A final word
Alliander aims to achieve a high standard of reporting, and there have been considerable improvements in the report in recent years. We hope that our contribution will help to drive this improvement forward and prevent any tendency to plateau. Finally, we should like to thank Alliander for its attitude towards stakeholders, for the opportunity to give meaningful feedback on the draft versions of the annual report and for the substantive dialogue with the Executive Board.
On behalf of the stakeholder panel,
Yvonne Kemmerling – Chairman of the FutureCity foundation, public domain director and coach, project consultant
Richard Liebrechts - Former partner at Ecorys and owner of Ripple-A
Karen Maas – Endowed Professor of Accounting and Sustainability at the Dutch Open University and Scientific Director of Impact Centre Erasmus (ICE)
Andre Nijhof– Professor of Sustainable Business and Stewardship, Nyenrode Business Universiteit
Dick de Waard – Professor at the University of Groningen, Course Director for Executive Master of Accountancy, Course Director for ESG Assurance, owner/director of DAW 2.0
Lynn Zebeda – Member of the Liander’s Board for the Future, co-founder of Dr. Monk
The stakeholder panel
The stakeholder panel that assists us with the annual report forms part of our structural stakeholder dialogue. We shared a draft version of the 2018 annual report with the panel members. The panel members responded in writing. Their input was discussed at greater length at a working lunch meeting on 19 December 2018. This meeting was also attended by our CFO Mark van Lieshout. The feedback was used to improve this report, and will also serve to further enhance the quality of our report. We have taken on board the panel’s recommendation to invite readers to contribute. We have also given further details of our role in the energy transition and, where possible, address readers as partners in this transition. Finally, we have once again made improvements in the connectivity of the report, such as with a new connectivity table and the more explicit identification of the material themes covered in the stakeholder sections. The stakeholder panel is independent.
Perhaps you, too, would like to talk to us about the annual report or the themes confronting Alliander. We are open to dialogue and also regularly organise roundtable sessions with our stakeholders. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.