Saori Dubourg, Member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF, explains how collaboration is one of the essential elements to reach the SDGs. She was a keynote speaker at CSR Europe’s Brussels SDG Summit.
Why is it important for a company like BASF to support the SDGs?
We see the challenges – to grow food for 10 billion people on the planet by 2050, to ensure their access to affordable energy, housing, healthcare and quality food, to name just a few. No single player can solve these challenges by himself. The SDGs are a good framework to combine forces from the private, the public and the civil sector. Cooperation and new business models are the key to the future.
What is BASF’s contribution to the SDGs?
For us, successful business doesn’t only mean creating wealth, it means creating value – and this is highly relevant for achieving the SDGs. We create value through collaboration for new business models and innovative solutions, for example with our “Starting Ventures” program. Innovative BASF solutions include our fertilizers for higher yields to fight hunger, our catalysts for cleaner air, and our coatings to boost wind energy plants. We create new partnerships and business models to promote circular economy.
How do you measure the overall value we create?
In addition to financial reporting, we measure the non-financial impact of our actions along the entire value chain in monetary terms with our “Value to Society” assessment, being aware that our business activities are connected to both positive and negative impacts on the environment and society around the globe. For example, we make an important positive social contribution by paying taxes and salaries and by investing in human capital. We can also measure the effects of reducing air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, or water consumption. The results of these assessments are helpful in our discussions with stakeholders, in internal progress measurements, and in decision-making processes.
What tools do you offer to your partners to increase sustainable value creation?
We are committed to increasing the share of sustainable solutions in our portfolio. From the early research stage, we apply methodologies such as our Eco-Efficiency Analysis, Hot Spot Mapping and the SEEbalance method to understand the ecological and social performance of products and their applications in their lifecycle. We use the SDGs in our tools as a benchmark to develop the sustainability criteria.
To help our customers and other companies to also steer their portfolio towards a better sustainability profile, we published our Sustainable Solution Steering methodology in detail. It guides them in screening their whole portfolio, understanding which applications have special ecological or social benefits and should be promoted, and which ones should be challenged. We have done so with our 60,000 products and keep reviewing them in regular intervals.
Which partners does BASF collaborate with for the SDGs?
In the value chain, suppliers and customers are our most important partners. Sector initiatives such as ‘Together for Sustainability’ for the supply chain in the chemical industry have proven to be beneficial.
We know that there are special challenges when the supply chain is global and European standards not the norm. This is why we need collaboration between regulators and business, too, to reach a level playing field.
Speaking about cross-stakeholder collaboration, we have joined several multi-stakeholder platforms because we see the dialogue and collaboration with civil society as crucial to understand societal needs. In this context, we welcome the European initiative to address sustainable finance. I am personally convinced that in the long run, we need to change the way we do corporate accounting, including social and environmental impacts.
Last but not least, CSR Europe is an excellent example for collaboration across actors from industries and politics. To achieve the SDGs, we need an investment in trust in European institutions and economy to promote collective action of politics and private sector.
Saori Dubourg was a keynote speaker at Brussels SDG Summit, May 23.