Telenor has a proud history, for more than 165 years, of connecting people and societies. The company has expanded its role in Norway and internationally not only because it has proven capable of handling change, but by embracing change. Going forward the capability to transform will be as pivotal. A fast-moving world requires a fast-moving Telenor. Our industry is facing challenges from disruption and new competitors, as well as increasing customer expectations and regulations. However, technological and economic development unveil new opportunities. Internet is spreading, smartphone ownership is surging and communication technology is democratizing globally.
In 2019, Telenor continued to invest in upskilling our employees as well as modernising the way we work. We are progressing on our promises to become leaner and more agile through ambitious modernisation efforts. Operational excellence and delivering great customer experiences is at the core of what we do. Both are elements we see as a license to operate.
We continued to optimise Telenor’s portfolio of businesses in 2019. The Finnish company DNA was welcomed as a new member of the Telenor family, expanding the Nordic footprint. DNA is an agile and growing business with a strong customer focus, a challenger mind-set and an ability to utilise new technologies, which fits well with Telenor. Building scale, creating synergies and leveraging our unique position to create value was the rationale behind our efforts to enter into a merger with our Asian assets in 2019. This initiative did not succeed, but our strategy of looking at value-creating opportunities and our belief that Asia is one of the most dynamic and innovative regions in the world, remains.
Responsible business is, and has always been, important to us. Expectations from customers and stakeholders are increasing on our core services and on all aspects of our services and deliveries. Telenor has over the last years strengthened substantially our efforts with regard to business conduct. We have also learned that building a proper understanding in all parts of our organisation require continuous efforts. For 2020 and onwards the work to strengthen responsible business efforts will continue, but there is one area where we will increase efforts notably; within climate. Our climate ambitions cover two main pillars. The first pillar regards our own climate footprint. In early 2020 we committed to targets of becoming carbon neutral in the Nordic region and reducing our CO2 emissions by 50% in the Asian region by 2030. Second, we aim to leverage our knowledge of technology and connectivity to empower other industries to reduce their own emissions through emissions-saving business solutions derived from 5G and IoT.
Telenor is continuously striving to empower the societies where we operate. This is best done by combining efforts to create value for both shareholders and stakeholders. We have aligned our strategy with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and we remain committed to our efforts to reduce inequalities. In this regard we are focusing on harnessing Telenor’s technology and knowledge to deliver tangible and practical results. One part of this effort is providing digital birth registration of children in Pakistan and Myanmar, providing them with an identity and thus access to essential services and opportunities. Entering into 2020, the world has faced a truly global challenge; the COVID-19 pandemic. Telenor works with other industries, partners and governments to provide services and solutions to the challenges presented by the spread of COVID-19. With this exceptional situation, access to robust connectivity is crucial. Our connectivity services throughout our nine markets are critical for functioning societies, and maintaining our service levels across all of our markets therefore remains a top priority.
Future challenges and future opportunities will be proactively dealt with while staying committed to our ambition to create value for customers, shareholders and stakeholders. To deliver on this promise we believe in agility, responsiveness, long term strategic focus and customer centricity in all parts of our organisation and value chain. On behalf of the Board of Directors I would like to thank all employees of Telenor for their efforts and achievements in the year of 2019. You have delivered on the strategy we jointly laid out in 2017 with promises to customers, shareholders and stakeholders. And in March 2020 we presented a strategic update pointing to 2022 with new promises. I feel confident that our workforce will work very hard to deliver on them. Our strong performance has allowed Telenor to stand out in a challenging industry, build trust and make our choices from a position of strength. Let us make the joint effort it will take to ensure we stay this way.
– Gunn Wærsted