The COVID-19 crisis has shown once again that the world in which we operate changes constantly and unpredictably. Like governments with whom we collaborate, much of our attention in 2020 shifted to the COVID-19 crisis. While creating jobs and accelerating economic recovery is a key government focus, our company still sees a huge opportunity in delivering distinctive new services and solutions in response to the challenge of climate change and helping our clients meet their ambitions on climate action - from the energy transition to circularity, low-carbon operations and more.

Our mission is to Enhance Society Together with our clients and other stakeholders through innovation and co-creation. This, combined with our multidisciplinary expertise across water, energy, industry and transport, puts us in an excellent position to deliver distinctive new services and solutions to meet the challenges expressed in UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Key to our strategy is the desire to improve our positive impact in areas that we master and actively influence. That is why we choose to direct our impact towards the following SDGs: quality education (SDG 4); clean water and sanitation (SDG 6); affordable and clean energy (SDG 7); decent work and economic growth (SDG 8); industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9); sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11); responsible consumption and production (SDG 12); climate action (SDG 13); and partnership for the goals (SDG 17). We share progress in our Responsible & Sustainable Business Update 2020.

To achieve our ambitions, we have integrated Responsible & Sustainable Business (RSB) in the governance model of our company. It is included in the roles and responsibilities of our management, Business Line Managers and the Works Council and forms part of management targets starting at Board level and working downwards. RSB is a shared ambition of the Board and a key responsibility of one Board member. It is integrated in our way of working via our global Management System and covers our QHSE Management System, our Integrity Management System and our Information Security Management System. Some projects require more extensive consideration in respect of our responsibility and sustainability goals. When there is a conflict of interest, we are guided by the principles and standards of the UN Global Compact, UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights, The Organisation for Economic Cooperation (OECD), ISO 26000 (Guidance on Social Responsibility) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

How we Enhance Society Together

Adding value through our projects

Our biggest contribution to inclusive sustainable development comes from integrating new ideas, innovations, technology and sustainability into our projects. We try to motivate our clients to make sustainable choices, to embed Enhancing Society Together and to contribute to the SDGs in our daily practice.

Since our client’s projects cannot always have only positive impact, our goal is to achieve a net positive impact through our involvement in these projects. The construction of a new road, for example, will positively impact mobility and economic growth, but will also emit greenhouse gas emissions both in construction and use. Our 4 Questions guide our conversations with clients and partners on these considerations, and help to identify where we can add value for society while minimising potential negative impact.

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4 Questions

The SDGs are specifically mentioned as part of our 4 Questions conversations to maintain clear focus on the areas where we are committed to make a difference. During 2020, these 4 Questions were actively used in 86.6% of our projects:

Examples of positive impact obtained through our projects:

Many of our clients are committed to realise challenging sustainability targets in their operations. At Aruba Airport in the Caribbean, our client aimed to achieve Silver LEED certification for its expanded terminal building. With our help, the building achieved LEED Gold certification through measures including a highly energy-efficient mechanical system, solar heat protection, solar roof panels and more. Similar success was achieved at Schiphol Trade Park in the Netherlands which obtained five-star BREEAM certification for area development, in support of our client’s ambition for it to be Europe’s most sustainable business park. Like LEED, BREEAM is an international scheme providing independent third-party certification of sustainability performance. Elsewhere in the Netherlands, we have been working with Chemelot and DSM Nederland on plans for the industrial complex to become the safest, most sustainable and competitive site in Europe. In collaboration with site users and governments, we have developed a living Chemelot 2030 Master Plan to realise this ambition and work towards climate neutrality by 2050 through the use of circular materials and renewable energy.

We are increasing resilience of our clients’ operations against impacts of climate change. In the Kingdom of Tonga in the Pacific Ocean, we carried out a detailed climate change assessment for the country’s largest port where natural hazards pose significant threat to development goals. The port is exposed to rising sea levels, extreme rainfall, cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis. Our assessment establishes a benchmark in the region and clears the way for a landmark project to improve the efficiency, capacity and security of the port for decades to come.

The concept of waste water as a resource is an important focus for circularity in the water sector. A planned new installation in the Middle East will use our Nereda® waste water treatment technology in a plant which not only increases treatment capacity but will create a new water source through the re-use of the final effluent. The Nereda® process is also the source of Kaumera Nereda® Gum, a new bio-based resource extracted from aerobic granular sludge. The first consignment of this raw material was delivered in 2020. Nereda® forms part of our solution to a new challenge facing water companies across the United Kingdom. The regulator’s latest five-year asset management plan places stringent demands on phosphorus removal. In response, we have developed a turnkey solution, aimed at smaller sites. New Nereda® Package Plants provide high-quality sustainable waste water treatment with biological phosphorus removal at small works serving between 300 and 10,000 people. The plants are designed to be manufactured, assembled and pre-tested off-site, allowing highly cost-effective implementation.

Our Nereda® Package and Mini Plants were developed in response to the need for a more sustainable means of waste water treatment, and in particular the demand for total phosphorus removal. The plants are being introduced in the United Kingdom.

Please refer to our RSB Update 2020 for many further examples of our projects bringing tangible positive impact for society.

Contributing through our operations

The sustainable and efficient management of our operations reduces risks and helps ensure the long-term continuity of our business. We also recognise our role in contributing to the SDGs, focused on specific goals in areas where we can achieve maximum impact.

Sustainable offices

In 2020, we announced our commitment to be Paris Proof by 2035. This involves reducing energy consumption of our offices around the globe by two-thirds compared with today and all energy will come from renewable sources. As a result, several projects to reduce energy usage will start in the coming years, such as installing PV panels, removing natural gas as a heat source and reducing consumption. The initiative concerns about 75 offices across the world. In this, our Amsterdam and Groningen offices in the Netherlands are leading the way. At Groningen, the office has been transformed into a zero-energy building meaning that as much energy consumed over the year is generated locally in a sustainable manner. The building has no gas – sustainable methods are used for heating and warm water. Our envisaged new office in Delft housed in a building dating back to 1912 will be added to this list in 2024 being Paris Proof (or better). Another innovative example in our ambition to de-carbonise our energy is a partnership with energy company Vattenfall and wind developers Infinergy to establish a new initiative for the Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) market in the Netherlands. We are the first of what will become a collective of corporate clients to obtain green energy directly from Infinergy’s new wind farm, with a direct match between generation and energy usage.

Royal HaskoningDHV has a new office in Groningen: DE STEK. It is a modern, sustainable and 100% gas-free building and with a mix of tenants, is set to stimulate regional growth and cooperation. (Video in Dutch.)

Health & well-being

A healthy working environment is an important feature of sustainable offices. Standing desks, healthy food, sufficient light and movement are essential for positive experiences and low sickness rates. One way to assess and monitor the situation is through certification. We were pleased therefore to gain Fitwel 2-Star certification for our Contact Amsterdam building. Fitwel is a certification system which supports the well-being of occupants and encourages healthy communities. Of course, for most colleagues, homes became the primary working environment during the year. We responded by developing a Working from Home policy and provided assistance in a number of countries for employees to conduct an assessment and order equipment needed to create an ergonomic workplace. While meeting new requirements demanded by COVID-19 in our offices, we maintained our commitment to broadening access to the labour market, contributing to SDG 4 (Quality Education) and SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth). Cleaning operations in one of our offices in the Netherlands are contracted to a company which gives employees distanced from the labour market a chance for work. To ensure activities aligned with new hygiene and quality requirements, we arranged for additional guidance to be provided in the necessary ways of working.

Sustainable mobility

Our focus on sustainable mobility is a key route to lower carbon emissions. We are reducing the need for travel by providing a virtual working environment enabling employees to work and collaborate independently from a physical location. When travel is necessary, we encourage employees to do so in a more sustainable way to reduce emissions/km. In 2020, a new sustainable mobility policy was drawn up to achieve our company goals: fly less, drive less and travel differently. We promote sustainable mobility measures such as car sharing, public transport and e-bikes. Together with major organisations in the Netherlands, we are part of the Anders Reizen (travel differently) coalition calling for reduced business travel and in 2020, used online communications as well as a radio interview with Anton van der Sanden, Global Transport and Planning Director, to share the message more widely.

“It is inspiring to see that affiliated companies are creating innovative and effective solutions to work independently from office locations and more sustainably during the COVID-19 crisis. This accelerates the realisation of our long-term ambition. I hope other companies also feel engaged and want to participate. Together we can make even more impact.” Anton van der Sanden, Director of Royal HaskoningDHV Netherlands, on behalf of the Anders Reizen coalition. (Video in Dutch, created before the pandemic.)

We continue to grow our electric car fleet in pursuit of our goal of a 100% electric lease fleet in the Netherlands. We are on target to achieve this by the end of 2021 with our original fleet. However, our acquisition of Novius has introduced a new set of fossil-fuel vehicles which will be replaced as soon as their leases expire. We encourage the use of electric vehicles by sharing our experiences with other companies and through membership of EV100, a global initiative bringing together forward-looking companies committed to accelerating the transition to electric vehicles. In 2020, our head office became the first location where electric vehicles are smart charged using cloud-based machine learning. Compared with existing smart charging facilities, up to three times less energy is wasted per car so more cars can be charged, or they charge faster. The technology requires almost no extra specific hardware, and saves on investments in charging equipment. The same machine learning technology will soon be able to predict how much energy a car will need and to assess the departure time of the vehicle.

CO2-Performance Ladder Level 5 certification

We successfully renewed our CO2-Performance Ladder Level 5 certification (the highest level) in the Netherlands. The scheme stimulates CO2 reduction in our projects and operations through a management system based on insight, reduction, transparency and participation.

Objectives and results

Our objectives and achievements in reducing our carbon footprint over the past three years appear below. Our footprint covers CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions related to energy and paper consumption in our offices, and business travel. It is based on an international data collection structure and, in 2020, the data covered 87% of our staff (the Netherlands, South Africa, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Poland and India). A weighted average is applied for remaining staff. The data is collected by a team of local staff appointed in participating countries who report annually to our corporate data manager. Their report is based on measurements (provided by meters or bills, internal registration systems or reports from partners or suppliers, such as travel agencies). Data definitions and the procedure on how to deal with missing data are standardised. If data is not available in time, the previous year’s data for that item and period is reported (temporary estimate). In the next quarter, actual figures are provided to replace the estimate. Data reports are screened for accuracy and completeness by one local data provider and by a team of corporate staff. Inconsistencies are reviewed with and by local staff for explanation or correction. This leads to continuous improvement of our data and an increased understanding of our actual impact for local and corporate staff.





Offices: Reduce CO2 footprint* by 33% compared to 2016



Reduction was mainly achieved by switching to cleaner types of energy (wind and solar) and by reducing our number of offices.

Travel excluding flights: Reduce CO2 footprint* by 16% compared to 2016



Reduction was mainly achieved through initiatives like electrifying our lease fleet in the Netherlands and because fewer business kilometres were made by car.

Flight travel: Reduce CO2 footprint* by 0% compared to 2016



In tonnes CO2eq. per employee there was a slight increase because the number of employees decreased by 2.4% compared to 2016. In absolute numbers, a reduction was realised (-0.6%).





Offices: Reduce CO2 footprint* by 33% compared to 2016



Reduction was mainly achieved by on-going initiatives to switch to cleaner types of energy (wind and solar) and by reducing our number of offices.

Travel excluding flights: Reduce CO2 footprint* by 25% compared to 2016



Reduction was mainly achieved through on-going initiatives like electrifying our lease fleet in the Netherlands and because we again drove fewer business kilometres by car.

Flight travel: Reduce CO2 footprint* by 2% compared to 2016



In absolute numbers (tonnes CO2 equivalent), a small increase was realised (+ 1.9%). However, because of a reduction in the headcount (-2.9%) this resulted in an increase of 4.9% per employee. Action: Implement flight reduction programme





Offices: Reduce CO2 footprint* by 35% compared to 2016



Reduction was mainly achieved due to COVID-19 pandemic and by on-going initiatives (clean energy and building improvements)

Travel excluding flights: Reduce CO2 footprint* by 33% compared to 2016



Reduction was mainly achieved by less travel due to COVID-19 pandemic

Flight travel: Reduce CO2 footprint* by 4% compared to 2016



Reduction was mainly achieved by less travel due to COVID-19 pandemic

* Reduction on tonnes CO2 per employee compared to base year 2016

Longer term, our ambition is to reduce our CO2 emissions* by the following amount:




Office Buildings



Business travel (excl. Flights)



Business travel by air (Flights)



Measurement and calculation of all material topics

To continuously improve as an organisation, we identify, understand and balance the most important topics for our stakeholders, and relate them to the actions and decisions we take. A solid materiality analysis provides insights into future trends, business risks and opportunities that influence our ability to create value. It helps identify topics that our stakeholders - internal and external - expect us to focus on.

The outcomes of our client and customer surveys in 2019 indicated a need to revise our materiality analysis. We started this process in 2020 through discussions with relevant internal and external stakeholders, which will continue in 2021. This will be used to refine our company strategy and long-term vision.

Until then, our current priorities are:

  1. Health and safety

  2. Quality and sustainability in our products and services

  3. Integrity and ethical performance

  4. Economic / financial performance

  5. Employability

  6. Emission reduction

  7. Security and privacy

Our main key performance indicators (KPIs)

Material topic

Key Performance Indicator

Key results

Health and safety

Integration and continuous improvement of our QHSE Management System (incl. alignment with international standards)

Further aligned with international BIM standards + ISO certifications (valid until September 2022)

Board messages COVID-19 pandemic

Employee resilience pulse check

Fatalities (target 0) + Lost Time Injury (target 0.18) Frequency (LTIF)

0 fatalities

Lost time injury frequency (LTIF) in 2020: 0.03 is below target. This decrease is likely to be an effect of fewer accidents and incidents happening as most staff worked from home for most of the year.

Quality and sustainability in our products and services

Use of 4 Questions in projects (target 2020 = detailed usage in 65 % of our projects)

Target met: 4 Questions were actively used in 86.6% of our projects

Integrity and ethical performance

Integration of our Integrity Management System (incl. alignment with international standards)

Further aligned with international BIM standards + ISO certifications + development of e-learning module

Economic / financial performance

Net turnover, Operating income, Added value

See annual report 


Developing digital capabilities across our organisation

Launch of the Finance Academy and Compliance Academy in addition to our Digital Academy

Embed culture of innovation

Future leadership programme

Expansion of e-learnings, Internal career centre

Modern employment relationships and employment conditions

Regular pulse checks, good consultation with Works Council, Working from Home policy (NL)

Equal opportunities

Appointment of a global equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) lead at the head of a network of EDI ambassadors.

Mentorship programme for female employees in the United Kingdom

Launch of employee networks for disability, LGBTQ+ and diverse ethnic backgrounds

Emission reduction

Use of 4 Questions in projects (target 2020 = detailed usage in 65% of our projects)

4 Questions were actively used in 86.6% of our projects

Carbon footprint (reduction in % per employee compared to 2016) for office buildings (target 2020 = -35%), business travel excluding flights (target 2020 = -33%) and business travel by air (target 2020 = -4%).

Reduction target for office buildings met (reduction of -62% - Due to building improvements and COVID-19 pandemic) 

Reduction target for business travel (excluding flights) met (reduction of -65% - due to COVID-19 pandemic)

Reduction target for business travel by air (flights) met (reduction of -74% - due to COVID-19 pandemic)

Security & privacy

Continuous improvement of our Information Security Management System (incl. alignment with international standards)

Certification for ISO27001 still in place

ISO27001 external audit conclusion: organisation well prepared for working remotely (COVID-19 pandemic)  

Compliant with stakeholder expectations and our obligations to interested parties, including clients, regulators (data protection), shareholders, employees and governments

Protect information globally from evolving threats

Risk-based awareness end-user 

Adding value to local communities

Across our organisation, we are actively involved in initiatives to benefit the communities within which we work.

The BRITE Foundation is a charity established by our employees to make a real difference in the world. Through the foundation, employees contribute time, expertise and money to small-scale charity projects. This year, €25,000 from the fund was distributed among projects in Australia, Ghana, Zambia and Nepal. In Australia, it enabled wildlife cameras to be installed in nature reserves ravaged by the 2019 bush fires. They will monitor the release of koalas back into the reserve and help establish a database of wildlife and flora. In Zambia, new toilet facilities have been funded which will improve hygiene and sanitation for students and teachers in a community which lacks economic resources and basic services. In Nepal a classroom is being sponsored in a new school for children in a remote village and, in the upper east region of Ghana, more than 2,000 villagers are benefiting from two elephant rope water pumps providing safe drinking water. The pumps are made in Ghana and installed by local engineering experts.

We asked our LinkedIn followers to celebrate our 139th anniversary with us, donating EUR 1.39 to our employee-led charity, the BRITE Foundation, for each of the first 1,390 Likes. The celebration video features our founding fathers, current leaders and some of our young professionals.

Examples of individual initiatives taken by employees include collection of clothing, shoes and personal hygiene products for Peterborough Homeless Helpers, a small team of volunteers who clothe and feed the city’s homeless. Also in the United Kingdom, unused food resulting from the closure of office catering due to COVID-19 was donated to a local church that cooks hot meals for homeless people and families in crisis. Another small community group is benefiting from desks that were no longer required following an office refurbishment. Efforts of colleagues to raise money for good causes included: £2,000 for children’s charity Whizz-Kidz from sponsorship in running the London marathon; more than £3,800 raised for a prostate cancer charity by a Movember team in the United Kingdom who were sponsored to stop shaving for a month; and funds raised for ALS Nederland.

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A photo montage of Royal HaskoningDHV United Kingdom 2020 Movember team. These photos were taken at the end of the month during which colleagues were sponsored to grow a moustache. The money was raised for Prostrate Cancer UK in memory of a colleague.

Our partnerships

Our partnership (SDG17) strategy focuses on influencing policy frameworks and cross-industry transformation. Information appears in the Our Company section.