The Zona Franca represents a strategic asset for boosting the economy of the Barcelona metropolitan area. Since our creation in 1916, we have always been an independent, self-financing body with a unique legal status. Our main activity is the management and administration of the Zona Franca Industrial Park assets and its Zona Franca Aduanera (Customs Free Zone) while promoting the international profile of Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain in the logistics and property sectors.
As promoters of spaces to develop manufacturing and technology transfer, we apply innovation to advance sustainability and economy 4.0. When it comes to expanding local and regional economy, the organisation of international trade fairs and events completes our activity.
The reinvestment of our profits, as part of our commitment to society as well as seeking to boost the economy, has resulted in our frequent partnership role alongside most key economic players and many social and humanitarian groups.
“The Zona Franca is a public agent that contributes to the technological advancement of companies and the achievement of SDGs in a new industrial culture that coexists with the urban context”
Pere Navarro, Círculo de Economía, Sitges 2019.
Throughout its 100-year history, our organisation has upheld a constant commitment to the Zona Franca’s local community. A commitment that has been clearly stated under the leadership of Pere Navarro.
2019 was the year in which the Sustainable Development Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda became Zona Franca’s priority and a distinctive element for our Corporate Social Responsibility. Throughout its 100-year history, our organisation has upheld a constant commitment to the Zona Franca’s local community. A commitment that has been clearly stated under the leadership of Pere Navarro. 2019 was the year in which the Sustainable Development Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda became Zona Franca’s priority and a distinctive element for our Corporate Social Responsibility. It is also the year in which began intensifying communications of all of our efforts regarding social and environmental issues.
The Circle of Economy meeting in Sitges also marked the launch of a new corporate identity for the Zona Franca, with which we sought to highlight the importance of Barcelona and the geographic area around the Zona Franca. It was also the start of a new era of governance, characterised by the universal elements of transparency, commitment and innovation.
In 2019, there were many opportunities for us to demonstrate our wholehearted involvement in the 2030 Agenda and support for Circular Economy policies from both the social and environmental perspective.
In May 2019, we published our Policy Declaration on Ethical and Responsible Management through the development of the 10 principles of the UN Global Compact, covering human rights, work, environment, corruption and the 2030 Agenda.
This declaration is a new guide for conduct based on business ethics and corporate social responsibility. We have gained deep knowledge in this area thanks to the Red Cross and Abertis, who shared their insights on fulfilling the 2030 Agenda and SDGs with us in July.
As well as reaffirming the Zona Franca’s adherence to the agreement, we want to give a public account of our progress and achievements towards the SDGs, which is why we have published the First Global Compact Progress Report which we hope to expand on with more success stories in future editions.
SDGs 3 – Health and well-being, a priority for the Zona Franca
In 2019, awareness of people’s well-being was a priority within the Zona Franca. In March, we signed the Luxembourg Declaration and committed to integrating its basic principles for the promotion of health in the workplace.
What’s the significance of our adoption of the Luxembourg Declaration??
- A commitment to implementing and sharing its principles.
- A commitment to sharing and promoting our knowledge and best practice in the field of health safety and well-being of employees.
Furthermore, we obtained ISO 45001 certification for our health and safety management system, which successfully passed the legal audits on prevention and monitoring.
In 2019, the best practice developed by our organisation on this topic was recognised with a refund of 10% of its Social Security contributions as a reward for the reduction of occupational accidents in the Zona Franca.
We wanted to celebrate the international awareness days for physical activity, no smoking, stroke and many others, to raise awareness and to show the Zona Franca’s commitment to the health of our employees.
The departments of occupational risk prevention and human resources also promoted well-being through activities that rounded off a year particularly focused on the health of those who work in the Zona Franca:
- “Stay Hydrated” initiative
- Healthy breakfasts with fruit
- Anti-flu vaccination and blood donation campaigns
- Workshops on sleep hygiene, posture control, stress management and mindfulness.
SDG 4 – Quality education, also in our sector
The agreement we signed in March with the Barcelona Port Authority,
“Forma’t al Port” (“Get Training in the Port”) aims to promote dual professional training in the city’s logistics/port area and was completed with a workshop on this training tool.
SDG 5 - We are committed to gender equality
Upholding equal opportunities regardless of gender is the aim of the #jotambésócfranca (#iamalsofree) campaign we launched on 8 March.
Furthermore, together with Woman magazine and its #womanpower campaign, we have held various debates to tackle the subjects of breaking the “glass ceiling” and removing gender stereotypes in society.
SDG 10 - The challenge of reducing inequality
Further evidence of the Zona Franca’s commitment to society was the organisation, together with COCEMFE Cataluña, of the first conference on the right to personal autonomy and physical and organic disability, ageing and chronicity.
We have strived for this commitment for some time, through initiatives such as our ongoing support, together with Onda Cero Cataluña radio and Renfe, for the Premios Ciudad Solidaria (City of Solidarity Awards) that recognise non-profit organisations in Barcelona working in the areas of solidarity, health, infancy, education and social and occupational reintegration.
SDG 17: A year of alliances
Our alliances continued to grow in 2019, as did the objectives we share with other organisations. These new alliances include the one we signed in January with the Barcelona Football Club to raise the profile of the city.
In 2019, the international profile of our region enjoyed another triumph with the organisation of the fifth World Free Zones Conference, with it being the first time for this global to be held in Europe.
The climate emergency demands a decisive response from all institutions and players. Given that the 2030 Agenda is a goal to be reached through daily management and corporative-level awareness, our environmental management indicators are proof of our performance.
It is a challenge that we address by promoting change from within and by making the most of our capacity to influence other companies: in December 2019, Pere Navarro represented the Zona Franca at the COP25 Climate Summit in Madrid when he took part in the panel on “Climate Innovation for Energy Transition.”
The Zona Franca industrial park was the first in Spain to obtain environmental certification for its management of communal areas and we have continued to work toward achieving our objective:
We want to become the greenest, most human and friendliest manufacturing area.
In June, our EcoCircularZFinitiative, led by the Zona Franca’s Planning department, received the Premio Barcelona+Sostenible (+Sustainable Barcelona Award) in recognition of its joint actions towards zero waste in industry.
Throughout 2019, we completed this initiative with numerous environmental awareness activities among the companies of the industrial park, with several workshops dedicated to:
- Reverse logistics for packaging
- Photovoltaic panels for internal consumption
- Sustainability in buildings
- Environmental awareness
- Circular economy and logistics
SDG 13: We know how to optimise the consumption of energy and resources
The Zona Franca has also made it a priority to optimise the consumption of energy and resources by:
- Developing a digital app for the supervision of works and business activities in the industrial park.
- Analysing the internal flow of water in the park so that it can be used to advantage, with regenerated water serving the Zona Franca companies.
- Collecting organic waste from company canteens and transporting it to the Ecopark housed within the Zona Franca.
- Providing new transport solutions, such as the extension of the bike path in the industrial park, supporting the BUS-UP company bus-sharing programme and encouraging the use of vehicle-sharing with the RACC-Hopp app, which 10 companies have adopted, reaching a potential 4,000 employees.
- The Environmental Management System of Zona Franca de Barcelona has the certification EMAS.
The Information Systems department is making progress towards the full digitalisation of processes, with priority given to document scanning.
This is our way of minimising the use of paper or cardboard, which we also purchase in recycled form. The eliminiation of plastic is also underway, with environmental certification being a general requirement for our purchasing. Likewise, before contracting suppliers or products and services, we consider their adoption of the 2030 Agenda.
Within the Visitor Guide for all the trade fairs organised by the Zona Franca, there is a special list that highlights the exhibitors offering sustainable products or services.
The wooden stands we provide for fairs have Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sustainable certification and are designed to make the best use of materials for subsequent events, as an example of our commitment to the Circular Economy principles.
Our signs are made from eco-printable vinyls, with solvent-free paint, LED lighting and using recyclable and plastic-free materials.
Events held in the Zona Franca always include activities that promote sustainability, the 2030 Agenda and SDGs.
Over 2019, the Zona Franca also lead the search for environmental solutions, joining pioneering initiatives such as the Ecoenergies plant, one of the most important energy efficiency projects in southern Europe.
This is a production and distribution plant for heat and cooling energy and biomass reuse. It fulfils the objective of supplying industrial cooling, heating, air conditioning and clean water to the industrial park, the district of la Marina and Gran Vía de L’Hospitalet in the most sustainable way possible.
In a second phase, it will have the capacity to reuse residual cooling from the port’s regasification plant.