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    INTERVIEW Veronica Dogaru, Orange Romania: “The value of direct and indirect investments we made in the community, including Orange Foundation programs and projects, exceeded 3 million euros in 2023”

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    “For 27 years, we have been involved in Romanian society through education programs, innovation, support for entrepreneurs at the beginning of their journey, and through philanthropy, exemplified by the 12 years of consistent activity of our colleagues at the Orange Foundation. For example, just last year, the value of direct and indirect investments we made in the community, including Orange Foundation programs and projects, exceeded 3 million euros. Our goal has always been to make digital technology a driver of equal opportunities, and we are dedicating all our knowledge and experience to building a connected, inclusive, skilled, and upskilled society,” Veronica Dogaru, Corporate Communications and CSR Director, Orange Romania said in an interview for Sustainability Today.

    “As innovation is important for sustainability, in order to reduce environmental impact, Orange Romania has already signed three PPAs to purchase renewable energy, covering almost 40% of our current consumption. We also deployed our own solar panels on Orange premises, totalling 2,600 solar panels in Romania, and signed an agreement with our current electricity provider for Guarantee of Origin Certificates. These will allow us to have around 90% of our electricity consumption coming from green sources of electricity.”

    How does Orange integrate sustainability into its core business operations and decision-making processes?

    As a telecommunications operator, the connectivity we provide represents the backbone of the digital economy. Having this pivotal role, Orange Romania is committed to the community and the climate. We are aligned with Orange Group’s goal to achieve net zero carbon by 2040 for both our own emissions (Scopes 1+2) and those generated by our value chain (scope 3). This is 10 years ahead of the objectives set by the rest of the telecom sector.

    Locally, #OrangeGoesGreen is our promise to our customers and ourselves, a challenge that requires measures to monitor and optimize energy consumption while simultaneously increasing the use of electricity from renewable sources. It also integrates internal efforts to build a culture focused on sustainability, including programs dedicated to the well-being of our colleagues, initiatives that motivate them to reduce their environmental impact and choose sustainable products, and training programs for a better understanding of environmental challenges.

    At the same time, we aim to generate positive changes through technology for our customers, as well as in the communities where we operate. Thus, for 27 years, we have been involved in Romanian society through education programs, innovation, support for entrepreneurs at the beginning of their journey, and through philanthropy, exemplified by the 12 years of consistent activity of our colleagues at the Orange Foundation. For example, just last year, the value of direct and indirect investments we made in the community, including Orange Foundation programs and projects, exceeded 3 million euros. Our goal has always been to make digital technology a driver of equal opportunities, and we are dedicating all our knowledge and experience to building a connected, inclusive, skilled, and upskilled society.

    Sustainability and equal opportunities are at the heart of all our processes, with the full commitment of the management team. With every step we take, we demonstrate that for all of us in Orange Romania, sustainability is not just an annexed questionnaire, it is a key strategic pillar.

    What measures has Orange taken to reduce its environmental impact, such as energy consumption, carbon emissions, and waste reduction?

    Over the past years, we have been working to find the right balance between consumer demand for connectivity and ESG commitments. It is a priority for us to continue to lower CO2 emissions resulted from our activities in Scopes 1 and 2. We replace technologically obsolete IT or network equipment with energy-efficient ones and focus on developing network solutions that embed energy efficiency features reducing consumption based on traffic. Also, as the circular economy is of utmost importance, our technical department considers recycling and/or revalorization of used batteries and decommissioned network equipment. In addition, we responsibly manage and comply with regulations for all categories of waste generated through our activities.

    Furthermore, as innovation is important for sustainability, in order to reduce environmental impact, Orange Romania has already signed three PPAs to purchase renewable energy, covering almost 40% of our current consumption. We also deployed our own solar panels on Orange premises, totalling 2,600 solar panels in Romania, and signed an agreement with our current electricity provider for Guarantee of Origin Certificates. These will allow us to have around 90% of our electricity consumption coming from green sources of electricity.

    Additionally, earlier this year we announced the gradual shutdown of the 3G network, starting with June 2024. This measure will allow us to focus on the development of 4G/5G networks, as well as other emerging technologies, which will meet communication and internet access needs for the coming years. Through this initiative, we aim to provide all our customers with a better connectivity experience, redirecting the spectrum and resources previously used by 3G to 4G/LTE networks (including Low Power LTE-M, NB-IoT technologies) and 5G, significantly faster and more energy-efficient than the technology they replace.

    How does Orange engage with stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, and local communities, to promote sustainability and social responsibility?

    Our goal has always been to create a long-term impact by integrating sustainability into everything we do. In fact, our sustainability journey boasts several pioneering milestones. We were among the first companies to implement a sustainable program in Romania – the Orange Educational Program (1997), the first to publish a nonfinancial report (2003), the first to include electric cars in its fleet (2015), the foremost Romanian operator to introduce eSIM technology to customers (2019), the first operator in Romania to launch a national circular economy initiative, the “Re” program (2022), and the list continues. We have pursued all of these innovations driven by our belief in fostering change and our desire to contribute to Romania’s development. Sustainability is a team effort, involving colleagues, partners, suppliers, and customers. Without the involvement of all parties, it cannot be achieved.

    How does Orange measure and monitor its progress towards sustainability goals, and what key performance indicators (KPIs) do you use to assess your impact?

    Through Lead the Future strategic Plan, launched last year, Orange Group announced a new enterprise model guided by an ambitious policy of social and environmental responsibility.

    On this occasion, Orange Group stated again its goal to achieve net zero carbon by 2040 and set intermediary targets: a reduction of over 30% in scopes 1 and 2 in 2025 (from a 2015 base), and a reduction of emissions across scopes 1, 2, and 3 by 45% by 2030 (from a 2020 base).

    How does Orange address issues related to data privacy, security, and ethical use of technology in its sustainability efforts?

    At Orange Romania, we recognize the importance of safeguarding the confidentiality and personal data of our customers and employees. We comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and have implemented appropriate policies and procedures to ensure that we process personal data lawfully, fairly, and transparently.

    We have a Data Protection Officer (DPO) who works closely with our legal and compliance teams to ensure that we continually monitor our processes and procedures to identify and address any potential privacy or data protection issues. Also, we have in place an Information Security Policy as well as other policies, procedures, and work instructions designed to cover data protection rules. These documents are using information classification mechanisms defined at various levels of confidentiality, establishing how documents containing confidential data will be marked, both physically and electronically. Additionally, the Information Security Policy ensures a methodology for online backup based on data encryption techniques and storage according to international cybersecurity standards within the company.

    Last but not least, we use and monitor a series of key performance indicators regarding data protection and safe use of information technology, with the main goal of improving internal and external security processes. Additionally, ISO 27001 management systems are implemented, focusing on the protection of information and personal data.

    Ethical use of technology and cybersecurity are another two important strategic directions for us. We are actively involved in creating a safer internet for individual and for businesses while preparing the future cybersecurity workforce.

    Orange Romania is the first local telecommunications operator to be involved in the development, organization, and support of the most important national cybersecurity competitions. With the aim of contributing to the training of future cybersecurity specialists, a field with a deficit of over 347,000 employees in Europe by 2023, Orange is a strategic partner for: the National Cybersecurity Championship (RoCSC), UNbreakable Romania, DefCamp, and the first edition of the National Cybersecurity Olympiad (OSC). Thanks to the efforts of all the partners involved, last year, over 3,300 young people enrolled in competitions in Romania.

    Our colleagues from the Innovation team are currently involved in supporting the preparation of the finals for the National Cybersecurity Championship (RoCSC) and the National Cybersecurity Olympiad (OSC), which will take place in May in Bucharest. We are looking forward to seeing the team that will represent Romania at the European Cybersecurity Challenge this year.

    What challenges or obstacles has Orange faced in its sustainability journey, and how have you addressed them?

    For us, sustainability is a journey of transforming our entire operations: from the quality of connectivity we provide, to the energy supply of the network, the suppliers we collaborate with, and everything that happens across the supply chain, to the products we market and how we address social and environmental issues.

    However, tackling the company’s Environmental, Social and Governance goals across the entire organization is no mean feat. We still have processes to align internally, especially due to the context we are going through – two major operators becoming a single company. We are definitely committed to reducing our Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which mostly relate to factors within our control, but for Scope 3, we must have onboarded our colleagues, customers, and the entire supply chain partners. The fight against climate change must be a collective effort. So, a challenge will be to determine more and more customers and partners to join our journey for a better, safer and cleaner future.

    What future sustainability initiatives or projects is Orange currently exploring or planning to implement?


    Sustainability is at the core of all the actions we undertake, and we have very clear objectives both internally and externally.

    Internally, we remain committed to harmonizing our processes and fostering a culture of sustainability through different activities dedicated to our colleagues. Externally, we will continue to invest and involve in green and innovative initiatives through own programs and in collaborations with NGOs and institutional partners. Furthermore, we are dedicated to supporting positive changes within disadvantaged communities through philanthropy and projects managed by the Orange Foundation.

    How does Orange incorporate principles of the circular economy into its product design, manufacturing processes, and service delivery?

    According to the European Commission, waste electrical and electronic equipment is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the Union, growing by 2% per year. In 2019, an average of 16,2 kg per capita of waste was generated in Europe while in the Union, in 2020 about 10,5 kg per capita was separately collected to be properly treated. Of this, the collection rate of mobile phones in Member States is reported to be under 5 % and an estimated stock of 700 million unused and waste mobile phones are stored in households.

    In 2022, we were the first operator in Romania to launch a national circular economy initiative, “Re” – Refurbish, Return, Recycle, Repair program, which is our invitation to our customers to get involved in more sustainable practices and support the emissions-reducing goal.

    To be more precise, phone repair has been a part of Orange’s portfolio since 2005, and since 2022, it has become part of the “Re” program. We are the only European affiliate that owns its own repair center, authorized by major phone manufacturers (Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, Alcatel, Nokia, Huawei, etc.), which makes it possible to repair any mobile phone sold officially in Europe, both for Orange customers and for those in need of this service. In the repair process, Orange uses only original parts.

    Our teams have repaired over 2 million phones at Orange service centers (since 2005), thus extending their lifespan.

    Also, since the launch of “Re”, we have collected approximately 448,000 old phones thanks to Returns (Buy-Back) and many more in our Recycling collection boxes placed in all our stores. Some of the phones collected received a new life, being refurbished.

    And because “Re” is now 2 years old, until the end of May, customers can take advantage of the program’s anniversary promotion, offering a 22% discount to buy a refurbished smartphone along with a 2-year subscription. Why choose a refurbished phone? It offers an affordable price, looks like new, is a top-of-the-line model, and comes with a 2-year warranty. At the end of the day, sustainability is a decision for all of us.

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