Time to act!
How sustainability determines our strategy.
2023 was once again plagued by numerous crises. In such turbulent times, it is all the more important to act consistently and not lose sight of long-term sustainability goals. The fact that Wilo was able to achieve this again last year is thanks to all 9,000 Wilo employees. You are committed to sustainability with your work day in, day out.
At the same time, we have to constantly question ourselves and break new ground. We are convinced that in order to overcome the major crises of our time and become even more sustainable as a company, we need the courage to constantly look at things from new angles. We recently embarked on a very comprehensive change of perspective by redefining our strategic priorities:
From now on, we consider our Group-wide sustainability strategy to be overarching. All other functional corporate strategies are subordinate to it – without exception.
Once again, we’re leading the way as a sustainability pioneer. Wilo’s long-term financing strategy, which reflects our clear commitment to sustainability, is an example of how this strategic realignment manifests itself in our day-to-day business. In December 2023, we concluded a comprehensive financing package including a promissory note loan totalling 270 million euros, which includes a strong ESG component. The high level of interest from national and international investors can also be attributed to our excellent EcoVadis rating: Last year, Wilo was once again awarded the platinum medal by Europe’s most important sustainability rating agency. Only one per cent of the more than 100,000 companies assessed by EcoVadis each year receive this rating.
For the Wilo Group, this far-reaching change of perspective on the overarching role of the sustainability strategy is accompanied by a second change. We have used the past year to reformulate our sustainability strategy. More than ever before, it now focuses on the long-term impact of our actions. Wilo’s new sustainability strategy is consistently aligned with the three impact areas Creating, Caring and Connecting, for which Wilo has defined long-term targets to be achieved by 2030. Each impact area in itself shows that Wilo has a sustainable impact.
Creating: Innovations that make a difference
The Creating impact area covers the sustainable contribution of Wilo products, systems and solutions to decarbonisation and improving water supply, among other things. A responsibility that is nothing new for Wilo: Wilo innovations have been making a difference for more than 150 years.
Today, for example, the Wilo-Stratos MAXO is proof of our commitment to being a sustainable innovation leader. It exemplifies high communication capability and fully integrated connectivity, for example through various options for integration into the building management system. The smart-pump provides our customers with answers to tomorrow’s questions today, drives the digital transformation and thus points the way to a more sustainable future. Because the smartest solutions are the most sustainable. At Wilo, we are convinced of this.
In addition to its pump intelligence, it is above all its efficiency that makes the Wilo- Stratos MAXO such a sustainable and future-proof solution. It maximises system efficiency with innovative energy-saving functions and control modes. The pump technology is therefore a clear response to the megatrend of energy shortage. Worldwide, the use of high-efficiency pumps could save 246 terawatt hours of energy per year in the areas of heating, cooling and air conditioning alone. The political players attending the COP28 Climate Change Conference in Dubai also recognised this potential.
The final declaration from December 2023 not only calls for a tripling of global renewable energy capacity, but also for a doubling of energy efficiency by 2030. Although it remains unclear why very few of the countries involved in the declaration have so far actually incentivised measures to reduce energy demand or even specifically pushed ahead with the replacement of uncontrolled pumps with high-efficiency pumps, the declaration sends an important signal. Saving energy is the order of the day! The global political community has apparently finally come to this simple realisation.
However, our commitment to sustainability is not only reflected in our highly efficient and therefore energy-saving technology. The fact that Wilo’s pumps and pump systems are used in critical infrastructure all over the world also shows why Creating is one of three central impact areas in our strategy. Only by helping to secure and, more importantly, improve critical infrastructure can we actually improve people’s quality of life in the long term.
In cities, for example, where the population is constantly growing due to the megatrend of urbanisation. Cities are increasingly growing together to form Smart Urban Areas – sustainable and digitalised conurbations. Last year, we discussed the advantages and challenges of these networked conurbations and how Wilo products, systems and solutions help provide a liveable urban space during our International Management Meeting and the Wilo Industry Conference in Singapore.
Whether in urban or rural areas, people all over the world need water to live. Wilo’s pumps and pump systems move this precious resource reliably and efficiently. Just how important they are for the water supply is demonstrated by the visionary projects that the Wilo Group is able to deliver on a large scale. The Toshka project in Egypt is making around one million hectares of desert usable for agriculture and significantly improving the country’s water and food security. Wilo is contributing to this project with around 400 axially split case pumps.
And in the Moroccan Sebou project, which connects the Sebou dam with the Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah dam, twelve Wilo-Vertical Turbine pumps have been used to date. They move the water over a distance of 70 kilometres and thus provide water for the cities of Rabat and Marrakesh as well as the surrounding areas. It is clear that such bold initiatives are needed for the supply of water, but also for sewage disposal and water treatment, in order to overcome the challenges associated with the megatrend of water shortage.
However, it is becoming increasingly clear that more depends on the availability of clean water than is apparent at first glance. Last year was the warmest since records began, with devastating droughts dominating the headlines in 2023. One example is in East Africa, where more than 36 million people are suffering from the consequences of a drought that has lasted for years and led to a major hunger crisis. Water therefore always means food, as water is essential for functioning agriculture.
But more than that: water goes hand in hand with health! Diseases spread like wildfire in areas without an adequate supply of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). The COP28 Climate Change Conference also sent out important signals in this area. By officially putting the topic on the agenda for the first time, those attending underlined the importance of health for the sustainable development of our world.
Our products, systems and solutions have a direct impact on people’s health – because they provide them with clean water, but also because they’re an integral part of public health care. Wilo-SiFresh is a prime example of this. This compact drinking water circulation system is in particular demand from hospitals and care homes, i.e. institutions where a lack of drinking water hygiene has particularly severe consequences. Wilo-SiFresh combines drinking water hygiene and sustainability by continuously monitoring the fluid temperature during circulation, preventing stagnation and automatically replacing the water only when necessary.
Caring: Taking responsibility and taking care
The second impact area Caring included in our sustainability strategy describes Wilo’s responsible behaviour towards the environment, employees and society and includes goals such as reducing emissions in production processes and creating a healthy working environment. Integrity, fairness, respect, passion and responsibility are the irrefutable values by which Wilo works and acts.
Last year, we honoured our commitment in this impact area not only by taking measures to reduce emissions at our sites, opening state-of-the-art main production sites in India and China and presenting a very comprehensive Diversity & Inclusion Strategy, but also by breaking ground for the construction of the new Health Cube at the Wilopark. We’re building an innovative health centre at our company headquarters in Dortmund that will benefit all Wilo employees worldwide as well as the entire region. We are therefore investing heavily in the health of the Wilo family.
In 2023, we have also taken responsibility for charitable projects and collaborations and are taking care of them. In cooperation with the non-profit aid agency Welthungerhilfe, we donated Mini Cubes – small ultrafiltration modules from our ABIONIK brand – to East Africa. As part of the “develoPPP” project, we helped modernise schools and kindergartens in Mongolia by providing high-efficiency pumps. We also supplied our solutions to Heriot-Watt University in Dubai: At the university’s Wilo Academy, mechanical engineering students learn about and with them as part of their practical training.
Having already donated over 140 PAULs to Ukraine in 2022, we also sent these water backpacks to the regions affected by earthquakes in Turkey, Syria and Morocco last year. The mobile water treatment systems contain an ultrafiltration membrane that reliably removes impurities, pollutants and pathogens from the water. And in 2023, apprentices at the Dortmund site also spent a day helping to distribute food for the TAFEL. For many years, it has been an integral part of the training programme to get involved with the aid organisation once a year and look after those in need.
Connecting: We build bridges – networked throughout the world
The third impact area stands for increasing sustainable impact through involvement in strong international partnerships: Connecting. Only together can we overcome the global challenges of our time. Wilo therefore cultivates a strong partner network around the world – this was especially the case last year. This is evident from the numerous events in which we have participated or to which we have invited.
In May, together with the German-African Business Association (Afrika-Verein), we welcomed high-ranking guests to the “Building Bridges – Africa” conference at the Wilopark. Under the patronage of the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Svenja Schulze, we discussed with attendees how to raise the profile of and step up German economic activities on the African continent.
“Smart Urban Areas – Connecting Minds for a Multilateral World” was the title of the Wilo Industry Conference, which took place in September in Singapore, one of the smartest and most sustainable cities in the world. Guests from the realms of politics, business and science discussed the city of the future, exchanged ideas and networked with each other. A few weeks earlier, smart buildings were the subject of a similar format in Vietnam: together with the Technical University of Dortmund, the Wilo Group organised a kick-off conference for the “Smart Urban Areas” research project.
In November, Wilo and the German Sustainability Award Foundation presented the International German Sustainability Award for the first time in Düsseldorf. The award is a recognition of partnerships between German companies and companies based in the Global South, and thus the all-important exchange between North and South. The COP28 Climate Change Conference mentioned above also focused on international networking, but above all on reaching concrete agreements to achieve the Paris climate targets. The Wilo Group also shared its insights at the event.
We will continue along this path in 2024. With events focussing on the highly interesting and dynamic Central Asian market. With conferences in London, Amsterdam and Busan once again focussing on the exciting development of Smart Urban Areas. And, of course, in the form of the dialogue that the approximately 9,000 Wilo employees worldwide maintain every day with each other and with our customers.
The sustainability strategy: the driving force behind our actions
Creating, Caring, Connecting. This three-pronged approach determines the work of the Wilo Group today and in the future. The sustainability strategy is nothing less than the driving force behind our multinational technology group Wilo.