At Vedanta, our efforts on Sustainable Development starts with our commitment to Social License to Operate. The Vedanta Sustainable Development Model comprises of four key elements - Responsible Stewardship, Building Strong Relationships, Adding & Sharing Value and Strategic Communications. Together, these elements enable us to ensure effective business processes that mitigate risks, protect health and safety of our employees, efficiently manage the environmental footprint, and enhance indirect and direct impact to employees, communities, investors, suppliers, customers and governments.
Sustainable development is at the heart of our business and to make a valuable contribution to the collaborative global effort we have aligned our sustainability philosophy and practice to the UN Sustainability Development Goals.
It is our strong conviction that higher accountability yields better outcomes and thus it is our constant effort to go beyond compliance in all three domains - environmental, social and economic. At Vedanta, we continue to focus on those factors that are in our control. This includes delivering production and growth, optimising costs and leveraging technology & innovation for operational excellence to run our business even more efficiently and productively with robust safety, health and environmental performance.
Vedanta acknowledges the rising global concern on climate change and continues to take sustained action to reduce its impact through energy conservation. We have revised the Vedanta Carbon Policy and Carbon Strategy under which we have set ourselves a goal to reduce our carbon footprint. We expect to achieve up to 16% reduction in carbon intensity by 2020 from a 2012 baseline, which was the first year of audited data. We are also scaling up solar energy in our energy mix. Hindustan Zinc commissioned a 16 MW solar power plant this year and has set a target of 115 MW in the short-term.
This was supported by successful implementation of 'zero discharge' at many of our plants, improvement in operational efficiency, setting up effluent and sewage treatment plants, and utilisation of treated water for various applications. Our businesses continue to explore opportunities to utilise fly ash in cement making, road construction and building material manufacturing. This year, nearly 50% of fly ash from our operations was recycled, which we aim to continue in 2017-18 on ramped up capacity utilisation of aluminium and power.
We believe that the culture of responsible stewardship starts at home and thus our prime responsibility is to safeguard the health and well-being of our employees. We have directly linked employee remuneration to the implementation of safety performance standards and prevention of fatalities and progress is regularly reviewed and monitored by the board-level sustainability committee. This year, we succeeded in reducing the number of fatalities to seven, from twelve in FY 2015-16. But this performance too is unacceptable and a matter of great concern to us. We are taking definitive steps to eliminate such serious accidents by educating, motivating and mandating an intense safety discipline among our workforce.
Stronger the connect with stakeholders, more resilient is the Social License to Operate. Stakeholder engagement and responsiveness have been institutionalised at Vedanta through our social policy and stakeholder engagement technical standards. These standards require each of our operations to identify stakeholders and determine engagement plans, including recording and responding to all enquiries and grievances.
We continue to uphold the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent while engaging the indigenous population for a meaningful dialogue.
We work closely with governments, communities, local & global NGOs as well as industry bodies such as CII, FICCI and WBCSD. Our Code of Business Conduct & Ethics and Human Rights Policy help reinforce stakeholder trust and confidence.
The core purpose of any organisation is to add value to society and not limited to creation of profit. This year, we contributed US$6 billion* to public finance, globally. Over and above creating jobs and paying taxes, we invest in empowering local communities through education, skilling, providing infrastructure, boosting health indices. Through 3,200+ Self-Help Groups, we empowered around 39,000 women. On the education front, we have transformed Nand Ghars from a mere preschool to a convergence point for a number of government programmes such as clean water, sanitation, primary healthcare and entrepreneurship training.
Vedanta comprises multiple businesses across diverse geographies but it communicates with one voice. We communicate early and clearly which helps build trust among stakeholders. We utilise multiple dialogue channels to contextualise and provide insights into our actions and intentions.
As a global leader in the natural resources industry, we engage in active advocacy on industry wide issues such as under-pricing of iron ore, bauxite linkage and promoting zinc and take up spearhead roles in industry forums and events. A sustainable future can only be carved when all stakeholders work together and grow together. These synergies can only be strengthened through dialogue and feedback.
I am sure that this report will give you further insights to our efforts around sustainable development. I strongly encourage you to go through the report and share your valuable feedback with us.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER