Condé Nast Spain Sustainability Case Study

November 2019

Copyright © Txema Yeste for Vogue Spain


Environmental Background

Today, Spain is a habitat of more than 8,000 plant species, and forests cover around 30% of its land territory. The most important environmental threats are those derived from deforestation (fires), erosion, desertification and the pollution of river waters.

Spain is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. An average summer lasts four weeks longer than it did in 1980. Real changes are taking place, which puts Spain at the forefront of environmental concern.

Young generations are leading an ecological revolution, in which technology, social media, and new patterns of consumption play a key role. A revolution that, in a rapidly changing world, entail economic and social changes.

Condé Nast Spain

Condé Nast Spain has always been committed to being a social agent of its time. Its influence on culture and lifestyle is aimed at the construction of an ethical and beautiful world.

In 2007, the climate change concern was part of the public agenda, but according to the 2007 CIS (Sociological Research Center) Survey on Ecology and the Environment, more than half of Spaniards consider themselves barely informed about environmental issues.

In that year, the former CEO of Condé Nast Spain, Javier Pascual del Olmo, promoted the idea of actively developing a pioneering corporate strategy to tackle the threat of global warming, not only through information as a media, but also by taking action as a company.

Regulatory Background

The UN Global Compact

The UN Global Compact, announced in 1999, is a global regulation that sets the standard for sustainable business behavior in the private sector, and is the largest voluntary corporate social responsibility initiative in the world.

It is based on 10 universal principles. Principles 7, 8 and 9 are dedicated to the environment:

  1. "Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges“
  2. "Businesses should undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility“
  3. "Businesses should encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies" Companies that join the Global Compact undertake the commitment to implement CSR policies based on these principles.

That was the starting point for Condé Nast Spain. Through the development of those policies, the company became part of the world's largest initiative for corporate sustainability.

The UN Agenda 2030

In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, and set up the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a global call for action to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.

They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.

This UN initiative acts like a catalyst for the efforts of companies and organizations. It implies a paradigm of action and collaboration on behalf of the responsible entities, and is the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

Through this regulatory framework, Condé Nast Spain aligns its business strategy with the UN Global Compact and Agenda 2030.

Challenges and Objectives

  • Developing a pioneering attitude that lead to Condé Nast Spain becoming the first Spanish publishing group, and the first Condé Nast organization in the world, to implement practices that attempt to fight the effects of climate change.

  • Building an organizational structure inspired by sustainable principles, capable of developing an environmental policy with effects on CSR, public relations, institutional certification and reputation, and one that provides social and environmental benefits:

    • Giving shape to programs and management systems that support environmental impact objectives, based on improvement processes.
    • Actively promoting a culture of environmental commitment among its employees, suppliers and readers.
    • Maintain quality in products and services.
    • Make profitability and sustainability compatible.
    • Comply with national and international regulations regarding the sustainable practices of the private sector, and obtain the certifications and labels that show its compliance.
    • Generate trust, authority and security by meeting the necessary requirements to be a sustainable, responsible, ethical and forward-looking company.
    • Reinforce editorial leadership through innovative stories and formats.
    • Connect with new and young audiences who concern themselves with matters of sustainability and the protection of the environment.
    • In short, reinforce the notion that quality and excellence go hand-in-hand with protecting forests and biodiversity, preventing global warming, reducing the environmental impact of our activities and committing to sustainable development.


In order to achieve the UN’s 13th Sustainable Development Goal (take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts), Condé Nast Spain has developed the following initiatives:

  1. Carbon Footprint Compensation
  2. Develop an Environmental Management System: ISO 14.001:15

Phase 1 - Making a Strategy

Based on this analysis, Condé Nast Spain developed a strategy to offset its carbon footprint, which in turn lead to the organisation becoming the first Spanish media company, as well as the first within the Condé Nast group, to do so.

To achieve this, Condé Nast Spain outlined the following as starting points: a) The tons of CO2 emitted by a company to be offset through existing projects in the Carbon Markets. b) Kyoto Protocol does not oblige developing countries to reduce their emissions, while industrialized countries do have to meet specific objectives that can be achieved by reducing emissions in other countries. c) Thus, industrialized countries can implement a project to reduce emissions in developing countries. These projects can be:

i. Reforestation ii. Energy efficiency iii. Renewable energy

Phase 2 - Compensation Objective: Zero CO2 Label

  • These projects support sustainable development in the country in which they are implemented and help to slow down global warming.

  • Additionally, with this project, technology is transferred to the country in which it will be carried out, investments are made, additional jobs are created and environmental impacts are reduced.

  • All these projects go through a monitoring of methodologies.

  • The goal of carbon footprint compensation is to reach 0, through investment in cooperation projects in developing countries. This results in Condé Nast Spain becoming a "neutral" company, which compensates for all the CO2 it emits.

Phase 3 - Compensation Reforestation Projects

Condé Nast Spain set out to neutralize its carbon footprint impact through compensation projects of the Zero CO2 initiative promoted by certificated NGOs (ECODES, UN, etc).

  • Reforestation and deforestation avoidance was the main objective of the chosen projects, fulfilling a dual objective: to stop climate change and fight against poverty in the local communities.

  • It was a process that involved the entire company, as the staff were informed of the progress of these projects, creating a sense of pride and commitment.

  • So, Condé Nast Spain calculated and compensated for its carbon footprint through two reforestation projects, one in the Peruvian Amazon and the other in Chiapas (Mexico), and, in turn, obtained the "Zero CO2" label.

2. Developing a Continuous Environmental Management System

Standard ISO 14.001

Condé Nast Spain has developed its own Environmental Management System, certified by ISO 14.001: 2015, to take responsibility for the consumption of natural resources, and to complement the UN’s 13th Sustainable Development Goal of action against climate change.

Characteristics of the ISO 14.001 standard:

  • It is the international standard for environmental management systems (EMS), which helps an organization to identify, prioritize and manage environmental risks, as part of its usual business practices.

  • It is responsible for monitoring the growing importance of environmental management during business processes.

  • Leadership is fundamental to ensuring the Environmental Management System works correctly.

The Green Seal

The objective of developing these policies is to obtain the certification of the EMS.

The environmental seal for the products offered by the organization to its customers, demonstrating compliance with the requirements of the ISO 14001 standard, is known as the "green seal".

Condé Nast Spain won the green seal in 2012 and, since then, its brands have included it across their mastheads as a symbol of the organisation’s environmental commitment.


Operational control: This means constructing and combining processes to ensure that there is total operational control over the organisation’s sustainable practices.

These methods of defining and implementing controls include:

  • Constructing processes to ensure consistent results.

  • Considering the lifecycle of every product.

  • Monitoring and results measuring.

Analysis of context, risks and opportunities

Business plan for prevention & internal audit:

  • Since 2012, Condé Nast Spain has passed an annual audit from AENOR (The Spanish Association for Standardization and Certification), which certifies that the organisation has implemented, and is adhering to, its environmental management system.

  • Every year the company analyses how it has evolved. An annual ACTA review is generated by the company's management, which includes a SWOT analysis and a review of compliance with annual objectives.

Procedure of environmental emergencies

Supervision and information to suppliers, collaborators and subcontractors, regarding the importance of compliance with its Quality and Environmental policy

Operational initiatives:

  • The goal is to take advantage of any opportunity for environmental improvement. All actions and operational changes in the company must be developed following a sustainable approach, from sustainable printers to energy efficient lights.

  • All the waste generated by Condé Nast Spain activity is managed responsibly, according to national regulatory standards.

  • Condé Nast Spain is not only committed to environmental matters, but to welfare and health issues too. For this purpose, the organisation intends to develop a sustainable mobility plan focused on both employees and the business activity it develops, from the promotion of video conferences to increased awareness around the use of public transport and bicycles.

Internal and external awareness campaigns:

  • Human Resources initiatives - Culture creation

  • The Human Resources Department to develop several actions to foster creative initiatives that trigger engagement and environmental awareness. The objective is to encourage staff to actively participate and adopt sustainable habits part of their daily working routines, and environmental awareness as part of the corporate culture

  • Welcome kits that include the Condé Nast Spain environmental policy, which includes recommendations that contribute to a healthy working environment for all.

  • The installation of water sources/fountains at the offices.

  • ‘Zero Plastics Project’, which tries to reduce the use of this material in the daily life of Condé Nast Spain:

  • Promotion of the use of mugs instead of disposable cups at the Coffee shop / Gourmet corner.

  • Removal of cups and plastic material.

  • Reuse of disposable cutlery.

  • Recycling bins and waste sorting on all floors of the building (paper, glass, plastic, organic).

  • Quantification of generated waste: information available for the staff in intranet systems.

Editorial standards and initiatives:

  • Establishing an internal policy to foster the editorial team’s awareness of the interest, relevance and timeliness of sustainably focussed content.
  • As part of Condé Nast Spain’s editorial policy, every team must be committed to developing sustainability-related content, from articles to special “Green Issues”.

Developing active protocols that respect environmental requirements in content production:

  • Waste management

  • Prohibition of the contamination of natural environments where photoshoots take place

  • Use of recyclable materials

  • Use of the least polluting means of transport

Paper use and treatment:

  • Shrink-wrapping of magazines: substitution of PVC for a less polluting material as polyolefin

  • Subscription wrapping made of corn and potato starch material, 100% biodegradable.

  • All magazine printing paper comes from sustainable forests, which allows for sustainable certifications.


Following the internal awareness campaign, staff agitated for environmental initiatives and projects, so they could play an active role in changing the conversation around sustainability and responsible resource consumption.

Other concrete goals achieved:

  • 20% decrease of electricity consumption.

  • Replacement of printers with energy efficient printers.

  • Installation of self-regulating light sensors that allow for optimization of electric power consumption.

  • Reduction in the stock of non-PEFC paper up to 10% (PEFC paper:Certified Paper for the Print, Packaging, and Publishing Industries).

  • 11% decrease in color copies.

  • 100% reduction of Gasoil consumption by company vehicles.