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Ground-breaking Governance at The Red Sea Project

By Maryam Ficociello, Chief Governance Officer, at The Red Sea Development Company



Governing well is about more than simply adhering to rules and regulations. At The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), we’re striving to build a ground-breaking tourism destination, and that means taking a comprehensive approach that sets new standards in good governance, compliance and risk management. Ahead of welcoming our first guests to the destination in 2022, we’ve embedded a holistic approach to structural governance into the business at every stage, from construction through to hospitality partner management. 

Redefining best practice

Our approach to governance is centred on the core principles of transparency, fairness, accountability, and responsibility – and we have put a number of measures in place to ensure that we are meeting these commitments at every level of the business. As a starting point, we have developed a comprehensive Internal Code of Conduct, setting out the legal and ethical behaviours we expect of our employees (from Board level through to our construction workers on the ground). This Code of Conduct, signed by all employees, outlines our most important commitments, from respecting human rights and the protection of the natural environment, through to our anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies. We are proud that all our employees are united by a set of common goals and behaviours that are central to our core company values.
As part of this compliance infrastructure and to enhance transparency, we’ve also created a dedicated anonymous Whistleblowing Platform that any of our employees can use to report suspected illegal or unethical behaviours. This is all part of keeping us accountable and open across our operations. Our principles also extend to those we work with, and we’ve simultaneously created a Supplier Code of Conduct to ensure that all our stakeholders are committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct.

Setting new standards across the board

In just the same way that we’ve committed to breaking new ground in regenerative sustainability, generating socio-economic opportunities in our local communities and creating unrivalled experiences for guests, we’re going above and beyond on project governance. We’re not just complying with local legal and regulatory framework requirements – we’re setting our sights higher, and plan to exceed these by adopting global leading governance practices.
Additionally, we’re looking to implement international best practice in our compliance and reporting structures, adopting the Open Compliance & Ethics Group (OCEG) principled performance approach for an integrated Governance, Risk, and Compliance framework, in addition to implementing a tech-driven approach, using an integrated Enterprise Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (EGRC) platform.

Maintaining excellence in sustainability

Sustainability in all its forms (environmental, social and economic) is our key focus as we build The Red Sea Project. Because of this, we’ve chosen to set new benchmarks in this area, committing to Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) sustainability reporting (the world’s most widely used standard for sustainability reporting) – and are on track to start in 2020. We’ve also implemented additional sustainability reporting measures in line with The Global ESG Benchmark for Real Assets (GRESB), allowing us to contribute to global, cross-industry collaboration on sustainable development. We are not yet required to implement a sustainability reporting infrastructure, but given the importance of sustainability to our project, we are committed to being transparent in how we achieve our goals. 

Compliance with a purpose

Our efforts to boost our governance and compliance procedures are done with the ambition of creating a truly ground-breaking tourism destination in the most accountable, transparent and responsible way possible. Signing up to international frameworks and reporting structures that go beyond our legal requirements is done to ensure that every step of the way, we’re developing sustainably and in accordance with our core principles.

Rethinking Risk

Whilst pursuing our overarching objectives we’ve adopted leading risk management practices to ensure confident risk reporting and effective decision making. Four us, it is not simply enterprise risk listing; it is fully dedicated strategic, enterprise and projects risk management capabilities that provide a consistent and periodic risk reporting approach across TRSDC at all levels; driving tone at the top from board level all the way to departmental level mitigation planning, coupled with accountability.
Our risk response approach is primarily dependent on our board-approved Risk Appetite and associated early warning signals represented by Key Risk Indicators covering our business. At TRSDC we value risk culture and continuously thrive to measure and monitor our risk awareness index progress. 
With our structured, integrated and compliance driven risk approach, we are the first giga project in the Kingdom to receive our letter of conformity with ISO31000:2018 risk management standard.