To push sustainable value creation forward, we have established a clear vision about how to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals into our daily operations. We want to continuously challenge ourselves to develop more sustainable solutions within our portfolio so that our operations become more environmentally friendly. We identified eight sustainability themes that will support us to create sustainable value.

Sustainability report 2018
Sustainability report 2019

Climate and energy

Goal 7Goal 13



We are faced with two main challenges related to climate and energy. By their very nature, some of our activities such as dredging are extremely energy-intensive. We recognise that one of our first tasks is to reduce our energy consumption and improve energy efficiency and this requires continual optimisation of our operations.

Secondly, we need to reduce our carbon footprint. We want to play our part in the reduction of greenhouse gases for our operations and in the project value chain.


Ultimately, we plan to reduce our GHG emissions by 40% (compared to 2008) by 2030 and we are striving to be completely climate neutral by 2050. In line with this and for several years now, we have embarked on a programme of integrating more eco-friendly energy into our fleet by the use of dual fuel engines. By initiatives such as this, where we continually seek to optimise our energy efficiency, we aim to have the greenest fleet in the industry.

Additionally, we want to achieve our Climate and Energy vision by focusing on infrastructure. We are driving the energy transition forward by expanding our offshore renewable energy solutions, thanks to our specialised teams which have worked on the largest wind farms in some of the most challenging marine environments in the world.

We are also implementing flood protection solutions - working with nature - which are more able to handle the rise in sea levels and coastal erosion brought about by global warming. We continue to explore new, marine-based solutions for renewable energy production (including hydrogen, tidal & wave, geothermal etc.), connection and storage. Together, these projects improve access to affordable energy, increase the share of renewable energy and improve energy efficiency.


We anticipate carbon-free fuels and renewable energy into all our solutions, including our vessels, floating equipment, car fleet and offices, a prerequisite in our striving to become a climate neutral organisation by 2050.


CO2 performance ladder

In the Benelux, DEME is certified according to the requirements of the CO2 performance ladder, which encourages companies to map out and reduce their CO2 emissions. Since 2012 LRQA (an accredited independent party) has regularly verified our processes and results. In 2018 DEME passed the renewal audit with the highest qualification level (level 5).

Fleet of the Future

We have embarked on a multi-year investment programme called “Fleet of the Future”. This ambitious programme recognises that approximately 90% of the GHG emissions we produce are directly linked to our working equipment and its fuel use. To tackle this, we are investing in implementing future-proof technology on board our vessels and heavy equipment.

We are taking the lead in the industry by implementing dual fuel (DF) technology on our new vessels. DF engines are capable of running on liquefied natural gas (LNG), reducing carbon dioxide emissions and almost eliminating SOx, NOx and particle emissions.

Our recent fleet additions – TSHDs 'Minerva' and 'Scheldt River' and cable laying vessel 'Living Stone' – are unique in their market segments as the first vessels in our industry to run on LNG. They also have a Green Passport and a Clean Design notation. This is a major stepping stone in the transition towards climate-neutral fuels.


Natural capital

Goal 6Goal 14Goal 15


Our oceans, seas, rivers and coastlines are vital for a healthy planet and economy. For this reason, it is important to find solutions that safeguard and improve marine and terrestrial ecosystems. We believe there are two key elements to help achieve this sustainability goal: protecting biodiversity and avoiding (ocean) habitat disturbance during our operations.


We aim to prevent and reduce marine pollution and at the same time, want to sustainably revive and rebuild marine, coastal, inland waterway and terrestrial ecosystems. We work with our customers during the project design and engineering stages to integrate a holistic approach to engaging with natural ecosystems.

While it is undeniable that many of our marine engineering services (dredging, port extensions, offshore wind turbine installation, underwater cable-laying, deep-sea harvesting, etc.) alter the environment, we focus on working with nature to minimise the impact of our operations and, where possible, strive for a net positive impact on biodiversity and ecosystems.


We strive to reduce and restore the environmental impact of our operations and create awareness about preservation of ecosystems, for example by integrating nature-inspired design into our project engineering.


Flood protection measures inspired by nature

We have co-developed multiple novel initiatives that integrate nature to offer flood protection services. For example, Coastbusters, our beach protection programme, and habitat restoration/creation with biogenic reefs as an alternative for coastal zone management.

As part of our field trial process, we have installed Coastbuster reefs with different types of biodegradable substrates for ‘grass matting’ near the Belgian town of De Panne. The tests will show whether biogenic reefs (shellfish, marine flora, sand mason worm reefs) have the capacity to reduce erosion of the beach, including from storm waves and can keep up with sea level rises by natural accretion. Compared to conventional approaches, ecosystem-based flood defences can improve water quality and carbon sequestration, produce fisheries, stimulate biodiversity, improve nature conservation and create recreational space. The tests are due to be concluded in 2020.

Noise mitigation during offshore wind turbine installation

Most marine fauna depend on sound for almost all vital functions, meaning that the effects of construction noise on marine species is a pressing issue. During the Hohe See wind turbine project in the German Bight in 2018-2019, we equipped our heavy-lift jack-up installation vessel with an IHC Noise Mitigation Sleeve (NMS). This big cylindrical double-walled steel tube surrounded the monopile (MP) during the piling process and contained the sound emitted from the MP by internal reflection of the sound waves, damping it in the contained air bubble and by diffraction of the air bubbles created within the IHC NMS. Additionally, a double big bubble curtain (DBBC) surrounded the installation vessel, making a loop with a radius of about 100 m. The DBBC captures secondary sound waves that slip past the IHC NMS. Together, the IHC NMS and DBBC mitigated noise levels to meet the stringent noise limit of 160 dB Sound Exposure Limit (SEL) imposed by the German government.

For future projects, we are preparing our installation equipment using a novel integrated solution for noise mitigation. This involves an extra integrated element that doesn’t jeopardize the basic functioning of the pile gripper.

Sustainable innovation

Goal 9Goal 17


Our challenge is to facilitate the concurrent use of oceans and seas for traditional maritime activities (shipping, fisheries, oil & gas, tourism, etc.) and for new, large- scale activities such as offshore renewable energy, aquaculture and nautical leisure.


We participate in multi-stakeholder partnerships and industry collaborations to drive the transition towards sustainable and holistic solutions. And we aim to enhance scientific research, upgrade technological capabilities and encourage sustainable innovation within our projects.


We will continue to promote sustainable entrepreneurship within the organisation by building multi-stakeholder partnerships that support sustainable R&D and embrace projects involved in the global energy transition, circular economy and the environment.


DEMEx and DEME Innovation Diver

Two of our innovation programmes – DEMEx and DEME Innovation Diver – aim to enhance our technological solutions and capabilities in favour of a low carbon, circular and resilient society. One of the results of the DEME Innovation Diver is an exoskeleton suit for manual lifting tasks on our vessels.

Blauwe Cluster

We take a leading role in the Blauwe Cluster (Blue Cluster). This is an industry cluster that uses the “blue economy” as an engine of sustainable growth. The idea is to align R&D priorities with national and international sustainable development priorities in order to multiply the impact of the R&D investments. This type of innovative collaboration enables sharing of sustainability knowledge and best practices.

Waste and resource management

Goal 12


With the United Nations’ prediction that the global population is set to climb by 2 billion to a staggering 9.7 billion in 2050, resource demand will continue to be under pressure. Managing our precious resources requires a circular economy to successfully manage soil, sediment, water and land to ensure the efficient use of natural resources. Reducing waste generation through resource and reduction, reuse and recycling is vital. Our challenge is to ensure the efficient use of resources such as sand, gravel and metals etc., and to embrace circular business processes wherever possible.


We aim to increase the sustainable supply of resources and provide technical solutions for waste, soil, water and sediments to accelerate the move towards a circular economy. Our technology enables us to repurpose waste materials after treatment to maximise the efficient use of materials throughout our projects.


We will continue to reduce waste in our operations and maximise the reuse of materials to minimise our impact on the environment.


Brownfield regeneration at Blue Gate, Antwerp

An example of circular land use is Blue Gate in Antwerp, Belgium, a 66 ha polluted site. This is one of the most complex remediation projects we have ever been involved in, both in terms of scale but also because of the number of parties involved in the Public Private Partnership.

Blue Gate Antwerp is the transformation of Antwerp’s old petroleum harbour into the first circular, eco-effective, water-bound sustainable business park in Belgium. The redevelopment is being undertaken in three phases, which will run until the end of 2036.

We are the main contractor for the project and are responsible for all remediation landscaping and infrastructure works, including constructing a new bridge. The overall project uses sustainable land management concepts to emphasise the sustainable reuse of soil, sediment and water to halt land and soil degradation. The soil-sediment-water system delivers many services (food supply, soil energy, water regulation, space for human activity, etc.) in a sustainable way.

In the first phase, we have removed mineral oils, PAHs and heavy metals. We have moved almost 600,000 m3 of terrain, remediated 100,000 tonnes of polluted soils and moved 200,000 tonnes.

Tuas Terminal Phase 1, Singapore

In Singapore, we implemented innovative and smart techniques to reduce the volume of resources needed at the Tuas Terminal Phase 1 mega port project. Instead of using (long distance) virgin sand, we maximised the reuse of existing, local reclamation materials such as dredged materials, earth from civil excavation works and crushed rock from drilling and blasting. This lowered the overall carbon footprint of the project, as well as substantially lowering the relative resource impact compared to the baseline work method.

Health, safety and well-being

Goal 3Goal 8


We operate in challenging and often dangerous environments, so workplace health, well-being and safety for our own people, as well as subcontractors, suppliers, partners and other stakeholders is our primary concern. We take this responsibility seriously and seek to ensure that everyone on site or at sea is in a safe working environment.


We provide a safe, secure and healthy working environment for all people involved in our operations. In order to achieve this, we analyse and manage every potentially dangerous situation related to our activities and workplaces to mitigate potential risks as much as possible.


We will continue our efforts to eliminate Lost Time Incidents by improving the health, safety and well-being of everyone on our vessels, project sites and offices. We also have a global safety and health action plan which provides the basis for annual plans specific to each activity line.



Last year we proudly celebrated the 15th anniversary of our Energy​@DEME sports and well-being programme.

The campaign encourages our employees to become healthier and do more exercise, especially in groups since team sports can contribute substantially to a person’s well-being. We collaborated with Energy Lab, an external specialist consultant, to structure the activities, share health tips across different company channels and provide an expert support network in an informal setting. The programme includes sports such as: running, cycling, football, rowing, climbing and yoga. Employees welcome the opportunity to meet new faces outside the workplace, have fun together and foster a healthy team spirit.


Diversity and opportunity

Goal 4Goal 5Goal 10


Our Diversity and Opportunity theme promotes inclusive working environments where everyone has the same opportunities for promotion and training regardless of their gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, culture, political conviction, mental or physical ability. Given our growth over the last few years following a surge in offshore energy projects, dredging, infra and environmental activities, and our ambitious plans for the future, we are always looking to recruit new talent and to make sure our existing employees fulfil their career potential.


We already have employees from all corners of the globe but we want to maintain this diversity and give everyone the same opportunities to pursue a rewarding career within the Group. This policy stimulates economic development and in turn reduces inequality. We ensure we have an inclusive workplace where all people are treated equally, with dignity and respect. Furthermore, we strengthen employee competencies by facilitating talent development and promoting sustainable entrepreneurship.


We aim to increase gender diversity and internationalisation across management positions, while improving employee understanding of career opportunities and training options available to them.


Recruitment practices

Our recruitment practices aim to hire, employ and develop the best people in our industries while actively promoting the enhanced development of our differentiated workforce. Thanks to a surge in our offshore energy projects, as well as in our dredging, infra and environmental activities, we faced the considerable challenge of recruiting more than 600 employees in 2019, including 150 crew members. This massive recruitment drive was unprecedented in our history.

Training for starters

We focused on expanding our training offering for starters with our Basics4Starters, people management and leadership skills training courses. Employees can access the range of courses, divided into mandatory training, recommended training and courses of interest, via the updated training system. We also spent time developing DEME 2030, our senior management development programme.


Ethical business practices include good governance of processes, improving transparency and incorporating anti-corruption measures.


Conducting business in an ethical way confirms and strengthens our reliable and well-respected reputation. We operate in countries with a higher risk profile for non-ethical practices, so we need to be vigilant at all times, including when working with third parties (recruitment agencies, subcontractors etc.).


Our policy is to conduct business with integrity at all times. Our commitment to ethical business forms part of our STRIVE values. This ethical business mindset is continually embedded within the organisation and we only cooperate with third parties which apply equally ethical standards. This includes but is not limited to respect and protect human rights as defined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


We intend to raise ethical business integrity awareness across the organisation, ensure decent working conditions for all involved and we want to encourage social dialogue. We will only engage with stakeholders that abide by the same ethical standards as we do.

Ethical business

Goal 16

Code of Ethics & Business Integrity
DEME code of ethics_1Download


DEME Code of Ethics and Business Integrity

The DEME Code of Ethics and Business Integrity is based on the principle that we should always act with honesty and integrity in all matters. The Code’s purpose is to help our employees engage in the right behaviour and align with our core values. Complying with our Code of Ethics and Business Integrity paves the way for stronger relationships by enhancing the trust between us and our stakeholders. Our Code and its related documents provide useful guidance in making sound ethical business decisions in our daily work and inspire dialogue about the key ethics and compliance issues that we may face.

Raising and reporting integrity issues

At DEME we believe that the final building block of our integrity programme is the possibility for both our personnel as well as any concerned third party to raise integrity concerns without fear of reprisal.

For extended guidance on this topic we refer to the chapter “Raising And Reporting Integrity Issues” of our Code of Ethics and Business Integrity (‘Code’) which can be accessed by clicking the document above.

We all have the duty to promptly report any known or suspected violations of our Code, as well as any violation of applicable laws and regulations.

Your integrity concerns may be communicated on a disclosed or anonymous basis and can be filed:

  • by email:;
  • by telephone at: +32 3 250 53 06 (during business hours);
  • by regular mail:  Attn. Chief Compliance Officer, Scheldedijk 30, 2070 Zwijndrecht, Belgium.

Regardless the manner of escalation, all matters are reviewed carefully and investigated with the highest discretion. To the utmost extent permitted by law, we will keep your identity as well as any identifying element confidential at all stages of the process.

We strictly prohibit reprisal, threats or retaliation against any person who has reported a violation in good faith or who is assisting in an investigation, regardless whom the report concerns.

Social dialogue

We are convinced that social dialogue and open communication between employees and management are essential for creating optimal and safe working conditions, establishing a fair policy in terms of working conditions and successfully executing all our activities.

Local communities

Goal 1Goal 2Goal 11


    Building collaborative and sustainable partnerships around our projects in different locations around the world requires trust between all parties and knowledge of local cultures and customs.


    We aim to help increase the resilience of communities to cope with economic, environmental and social challenges and to build collaborative relationships. By starting these relationships when preparing for a new project or investment, we can better understand local needs and concerns, which we can then address in our decision-making process.

    OUR 2030 TARGETS

    Giving back to the community is embedded in our company culture. With DEME4Life we continue to support a wide variety of social projects across the globe.



      Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an integral part of DEME's drive for sustainable solutions, which are overseen by the DEME4Life Foundation. Many of the DEME4Life initiatives are driven by our employees, who often spend years working locally, supporting and working with local charitable organisations in the communities where they live and operate. Projects around the world include

      • A partnership with Ondernemer voor Ondernemers for a sustainable dredging project on the Congo River, supporting Mercy Ships 
      • A partnership with The Red Pencil, an NGO that offers both creative and clinical arts therapy services to various organisations including hospitals, family centres, shelters and schools, as well as humanitarian missions in communities;
      • Supporting Mercy Ships’activities with funding and volunteers. Mercy Ships’ hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, sails along the African coastline and offers free local operations, medical treatment and medical training. Following the success of the current ship, a second ship is under construction in China. This is an absolute highlight for us and a huge milestone for Mercy Ships. The new ship, Global Mercy, will be the largest private hospital ship with 199 hospital beds and 6 operating theatres.

      CO2 performance ladder

      In the Benelux, DEME is certified according to the requirements of the CO2 performance ladder, which encourages companies to map out and reduce their CO2 emissions. Since 2012 LRQA (an accredited independent party) has regularly verified our processes and results. In 2018 DEME passed the renewal audit with the highest qualification level (level 5). Widely used, the CO2 performance ladder is an instrument that helps organisations reduce their carbon emissions, in the performance of projects and in their business operations. The principle behind the ladder is that efforts concerning CO2 are rewarded economically; i.e. the higher score on the ladder, the better the company’s assessment in tenders.

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