Volkswagen AG continued to actively support the preservation of biodiversity in 2008, joining the “Business & Biodiversity” initiative ahead of the 9th UN conference on the International Convention on Biological Diversity held in Bonn in May 2008. This initiative aims to get companies from different sectors more involved in nature conservation. In a letter to the Federal Environment Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, dated February 11, 2008, Prof. Martin Winterkorn stated that Volkswagen AG was prepared to share responsibility for ensuring that the global community does in fact meet the targets set out in the Convention on Biological Diversity.

In April 2008, the Volkswagen Group notified its stakeholders and the general public that it had published a mission statement on biodiversity, in which it states that species conservation is one of its priorities. In this statement, which is applicable to all companies in the Group, Volkswagen expresses its commitment to climate protection – as an indirect contribution to the conservation of biological diversity – and to species conservation at its facilities worldwide. To add weight to its commitment to protection of the species, Volkswagen also launched an extensive action plan in which, for example, its suppliers will also share responsibility.

Volkswagen AG presented its national and international activities in the area of nature conservation during the past year at podium discussions, lectures and information booths, e.g. at the UN nature conservation conference in Bonn and at the “Biodiversity Day” in Braunschweig.

in millions of cubic meters per year
Fresh water procurement and waste water in the Volkswagen Group in millions of cubic meters per year (bar chart)

The Umweltschadensgesetz (USchG – German Environmental Damage Act), which transposes the EU Environmental Liability Directive into national law, came into force on November 14, 2007. This increases the liability of companies, businesspeople and the self-employed for emissions or incidents that cause damage to protected species and natural habitats as well as to water bodies and soil. In the event of damage, companies are held liable either directly or by way of recovery and are then required to bear the costs of the return of the species or clean-up. As conventional professional liability, employer’s liability and environmental liability insurance concepts are tailored to civil law claims and therefore at best cover parts of the new law, additional cover is required for any claims that may arise. The HDI-Gerling insurance group offers this kind of insurance for damage to the environment on the basis of a risk analysis in which a company’s emissions such as used air, waste water, waste, noise or vibration are compared with protected assets such as water, soil and, in particular, biodiversity. In 2008, experts from the insurance group and Volkswagen AG carried out a risk analysis of this nature for all German facilities of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Audi brands assisted by scientists from the University of Hanover. All relevant parameters were recorded on site and the risks are then measured. These measurements are taken as the basis for agreement on the terms of the policy.

Our commitment to avoiding emissions and safeguarding protected assets is highlighted by the example of fresh and waste water volumes:

Although the Volkswagen Group’s production volume was higher in 2008 than in 2007, fresh water procurement was almost at the same level as the previous year. This is attributable mainly to the resource-saving strategy defined at many of the Group’s locations. We even managed to cut the volume of waste water slightly compared with the previous year.


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