This guest blog post is authored by William (Bill) Steers, general manager, communications and corporate responsibility for ArcelorMittal’s Americas region, which encompasses more than 50 steel production, mining and finishing facilities and has approximately 40,000 employees. He oversees the company’s corporate responsibility efforts across two continents as well as corporate communications, media relations and brand management.
In 2014, ArcelorMittal launched a comprehensive new approach to ensuring the sustainability of our business and the contribution to society—our 10 sustainable development outcomes. The words we used to name this approach are important and specific—sustainable development outcomes. Sustainable development means, in short, meeting today’s needs without compromising future generations. At ArcelorMittal, we believe our company and the steel industry can rise to this challenge.
One of the many ways we contribute to sustainable development outcomes at ArcelorMittal is through public–private partnerships that build opportunities to be an active and welcome member of the communities where we operate. We recognize it is not enough for ArcelorMittal to be resilient and sustainable; the communities surrounding us must be as well. Our experience has shown that strong public–private partnerships can be instrumental in bringing together a variety of experienced, like-minded partners to leverage collective resources around common goals for greater impact.
Two strong initiatives that affirm ArcelorMittal’s commitment to public–private partnerships as a vehicle for community resilience and sustainability are Sustain Our Great Lakes and our evolving work with the Millennium Reserve.
For some context, the Great Lakes are truly at the center of the ArcelorMittal business in North America. More than 70 percent of our employees in North America live and work in the Great Lakes region. Spanning the U.S./Canada border, these world-famous lakes provide drinking water to 35 million people and transport raw materials to steel plants responsible for around 20 million metric tons of steel each year.
In 2007, ArcelorMittal teamed up with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and several federal agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to launch the Sustain Our Great Lakes (SOGL). Addressing goals that will ultimately improve habitat and water quality across the basin, the SOGL program brings together public and private funding to make competitive grants for on-the-ground projects that sustain, restore and protect fish, wildlife and habitat in the Great Lakes basin. Since beginning the partnership, we have contributed almost $6 million, which has unlocked 20 times that amount in matched and grant funding. However, the importance of the partnership goes far beyond the dollars we have contributed; the strong collaboration with partners and the ability to access and raise awareness among diverse stakeholder groups has allowed the partnership to substantially contribute to restoring approximately 33,000 acres and nearly 200 miles of marine and riparian habitat since our funding started.
A second exciting initiative is our participation with the Millennium Reserve. Our presence in the Calumet region brought us to the Millennium Reserve initiative at its inception. Since then, Millennium Reserve has been working to advance sustainable development initiatives that recognize and build on the nexus between economic development, stronger, more resilient communities and the many environmental and ecological assets of the Calumet region.
In the Calumet region of Illinois and Indiana, ArcelorMittal was a founding member of the Millennium Reserve—a public–private partnership formed in 2012 by then-Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. The initiative brought together state and local government agencies, nonprofit organizations and private companies to advance sustainable development initiatives that recognize and build on the nexus between economic development, stronger, more resilient communities and the many environmental and ecological assets of the Calumet region.
Last year, I was honored to become chair of the Millennium Reserve and, with the support of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, move this project to the next level. To advance this exciting work, we are strengthening the partnership to foster a new level of collaboration in sustainable development for our region by expanding across the border, engaging stakeholders in Northwest Indiana and taking a regional approach to solving the area’s greatest challenges. Only through partnership and collaboration can we leverage our collective resources to advance the Calumet region as it transforms itself into an area recognized for its economic, environmental and cultural value.
Each of these public–private partnerships represents a sustainable development opportunity for ArcelorMittal and an opportunity to leverage knowledge and resources beyond our own. Partnering within our communities, government agencies and like-minded NGOs, we build stronger relationships and better understanding of stakeholder expectations in our communities. This provides a unique opportunity to ensure our business strategies align with the expectations for sustainability and resilience found in our communities.
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