Israel-Greece Conference "We are committed to sustainability, not just because it's a trendy word"
"We are committed to sustainability, not just because it's a trendy word"
In an interview conducted for Calcalist’s Israel-Greece conference hosted in collaboration with Aroundtown and Brown Hotels, Ilia Rigas, head of corporate responsibility at Energean, said that most of the company's employees come from local communities and that they support underprivileged populations
Can you tell us a little about your role and corporate responsibility at Energean?
“We opened the department about seven years ago, before corporate responsibility and sustainability were fashionable words. Before that we had a department that took care of stakeholders and locals in our areas of activity in Greece. From the moment we expanded and started trading on the London and Tel Aviv stock exchanges, we set up the department whose role is to take care of all aspects of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance). I am more involved in the environmental and social parts. We are a natural gas company, but we have a great commitment to sustainability - and not just because it is a trendy word. ESG is woven into all our areas of our activity."
The CEO of Energean wrote in his blog “the ability of natural gas to save lives should not be underestimated.” What did he mean?
“Saving lives stems from reducing the amount of emissions of pollution compared to the alternative. The ability to replace oil and coal with natural gas as transition energy, before we have the ability to rely solely on renewable and sustainable energy, is the current intermediate stage we are in.”
How many people do you employ in the local communities?
“Most of the workers we employ come from local communities, about 80% of the workers. This is our strategy and this is our approach – to recruit local workers first, and only if there is no ability to hire local workers then we hire people from abroad, usually expert workers which don’t exist in the local community.“
Can you give me examples of ESG ventures?
“We do a lot of activities with people with disabilities. So far we have collaborated with the local community in Kavala, Greece and tried to integrate the people with disabilities into the company. In the first year we organized a basketball game where Energean’s management played basketball with them. We still support them, we buy them cars and support their basketball team, and we similarly support those in other countries like Israel and Egypt. In each community we support in a different way, depending on its needs. In other countries we did a back-to-school project, we bought children stationery.”
Some argue that “corporate responsibility” in fossil fuel companies is “greenwashing.”
“It depends on the company. I understand there have been cases of greenwashing, but there is no need to demonize everything. But we are proving with our actions and with the external rating and audit that we meet all the standards with honors.”