Meridiam is one of the majority stakeholders in Lisea, a French rail infrastructure company that delivered the €7.8 billion Sud Europe Atlantique (SEA) project, a new highspeed railway line between Tours and Bordeaux.
Meridiam works closely with the other stakeholders to set financial and managerial goals, including ESG performance objectives. Initiated by the state-owned body responsible for railway infrastructure, SNCF Réseau, this public-private partnership (PPP) project covered funding, design and construction, and maintenance over a 50-year period.
In a PPP like this one, Lisea takes up the role public authorities have in a classic public procurement scheme and will therefore manage procurement and suppliers. During the project construction phase, the main supplier is the engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) contractor. In this case , the EPC contractor is one Meridiam has built a trusting relationship with through previous projects, which was a contributing factor in Meridiam’s decision to invest in the SEA project. It also proved to be valuable for Lisea when discussing and establishing ESG KPIs, allowing Lisea to request clarifications and corrections when needed.
In this scheme, Lisea has to meet the public authorities’ requirements but depends mostly on its first supplier, the EPC contractor, to deliver a project that complies not only with local laws and regulations, but with a vast array of ESG commitments and objectives set by Meridiam and other Lisea stakeholders. For instance, the project footprint impacts 11 Natura 2000 sites, where more than 200 protected species can be found. Although mitigation and compensation measures for environmental impacts are contractual requirements, non-compliance of the supplier would have caused reputational damages to Lisea. In such an ecologically sensitive area, teaming up with a supplier with strong ESG credentials reassured Lisea that mitigation measures would be implemented as planned and that stringent monitoring would be ensured.
Lisea monitored the supplier’s performance against an array of ESG targets which were defined by Meridiam and the other stakeholders, as well as those set in the project management plans. They covered, among other issues, training for workers, health and safety, compliance to environmental permits and community engagement. To reinforce the collaborative relationship with the EPC contractor, feedback was given for its performance on an on-going basis and best ESG practices, amongst others, were promoted widely. This was achieved through various methods including social media and public presentations and exhibitions.
Managing ESG risk in the supply chains of private companies and assets
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Case study: ensuring sustainability of a rail project