Building a Utility of the Future
The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 slowed down the pace of development around the world, and in many areas exacerbated the gap between rich and poor. The immediate human and economic loss was severe, and the exposed economic fragility and societal divisions could have long-lasting impacts on society and businesses alike.
GRI reference: 102-44, 102-47
The United Nations Development Programme has observed setbacks in the areas of education, health and living standards of varying degrees in different parts of the world, but at the same time there is a notable acceleration in the adoption of digital technology, especially in businesses.
Despite the challenges, CLP has continued its journey of becoming a Utility of the Future. In 2020, the Group achieved its decarbonisation target for 2020 set under the Climate Vision 2050, and a review to further tighten targets was initiated. Enhanced data analytics capacity and digital innovations enabled the Group to integrate new products and services in its operations and offerings to customers. Underpinning these changes is CLP’s continued transformation into an organisation that strives to build an agile, inclusive and sustainable workforce.
CLP’s business strategy is based on strong governance and strives to create long-term value for stakeholders. Understanding the megatrends and preparing for the material topics that shape the current and future socio-economic and technological context is fundamental. Furthermore, the robust crisis planning established many years ago has prepared the Company for disruptions. As a result, in the uncertain environment of 2020, CLP’s material topics which can affect the business remain valid and relevant. This was confirmed by the Group’s materiality assessment exercise conducted in 2020.
Another key to CLP’s resilience is its ability to respond to changes promptly. Over one year has passed since the Company raised its readiness posture to “Emergency” and implemented its Infectious Diseases Response Plan. At the time of writing, the same status applies. During this dramatic time, an enormous amount of experience has been gained in regard to the best ways to continue operating in order to deliver optimum service to customers whilst keeping our staff safe. Likewise, when personal interactions with customers should be minimised during the pandemic, digital channels were made more user-friendly so that no customer was denied access to standard services.
Using an ever-evolving plan that offers a series of graduated response measures, employees can be well protected whilst working. These measures are ongoing and include, amongst others, work from home, restrictions on assembly, increased security awareness, self-quarantine and reporting, reduction on business travel and the provision of endorsed health and hygiene advice. As ever, the key lies with the provision of regular and trusted communication to all which is timely and proportionate, proposing sensible measures and knowledge which impart confidence to the staff.
CLP understands that its business needs to be reliable and cannot thrive in isolation. In response to the current crises stemming from COVID-19, the Company has been supporting local communities by providing medical supplies and other hygiene products, and by offering assistance to retailers and vulnerable customers during these difficult times.
The following sections discuss how the material topics relate to the Company’s value proposition despite the immediate challenges, how and why their importance has evolved over the last year, and how CLP is seeking to address these challenges. For a discussion of how CLP makes use of the different capitals – financial, manufactured, intellectual, human, social and relationship, and natural – to address the challenges and opportunities outlined here, please refer to the Capitals section of the Annual Report.