A company can only continue to exist if the business is growing, profitable, sustainable, and supported by all stakeholders. Organizations need to set sustainable development goals in the areas where they can create the most value for society and their stakeholders. UN climate summits are held every year, for governments to agree on steps to limit global temperature rises. They are referred to as COPs, which stands for “Conference of the Parties“. The parties are the attending countries that signed up to the original UN climate agreement in 1992. Before COP26 in 2021, UN chief António Guterres told world leaders that we are “digging our own graves” by failing to act fast enough on climate change. In 2022 sustainability keeps trending and is an important buzzword of governments, businesses, and people.
The original version of this article is written by Rudi Stalmans and featured in the 2021 autumn edition of Tank News International. The article on our blog has been updated based on recent developments.
Politicians acknowledge that cooperation is needed to handle climate change. The COP26, hosted by the UK in November 2021, worked as the platform for world leaders to set out their carbon reduction plans for 2030. Many countries have committed to getting to net-zero by 2050. To achieve this, governments, businesses, and individuals will have to make enormous and drastic changes. However, a document leak reported in the media at that time indicated that some countries were opposing several UN recommendations.
COP27 is the 27th annual UN meeting on climate, hosted by Egypt from 6 to 18 November. COP27 will focus on reducing emissions, helping countries to prepare and deal with climate change, and securing technical support and funding for developing countries for these activities.
Some areas not fully resolved or covered at COP26 will be picked up, including loss and damage finance, the establishment of a global carbon market, and strengthening the commitments to reduce coal use. For COP27, countries also submit ambitious national climate plans.
Oil & Energy
Oil companies are moving towards new energies to contribute to the sustainable development of the planet. These companies are energy market trading specialists and play a paramount role in global energy supply chains. They will probably also become carbon trading experts. Major oil companies are under a lot of pressure, with COP organizers even sidelining them during COP26 amid doubt over how genuine the big oil climate pledges are.
The chemical industry
The chemical sector focuses on four areas, namely (1) a low-carbon economy, (2) resource efficiency, (3) a circular economy, and (4) care for people and the planet. The chemical industry plays a crucial role in a circular economy to transform the ‘take, make, dispose’ model into a ‘make, use, return’ model. A circular economy aims to maintain the value of products, materials, and resources in the economy for as long as possible, and to minimize the generation of waste.
Set your sustainable development goals
With all these talks going on, here are three sustainable development goals that every company in the liquid bulk and hazardous goods industry should have.
Goal 1: Make safety your top priority
Accidents always remind us of the importance of safely handling dangerous goods and hazardous materials throughout the supply chain. Ensuring safe transport and handling of its products, with care for the environment and in full accordance with regulations, is of essential importance for the image and reputation of the industry. Health and safety management should embrace the interactions between the working environment, equipment, systems and procedures, and the people in the organization. The safety culture of a company is crucial and starts with our attitude towards it! The long-term value of implementing safety management systems is to create step-change improvements in safety without large-scale disasters to drive them.
Goal 2: Prepare for emergencies
Given the nature of our industry, there’s always the possibility of a safety incident. Risk management is not only a legal requirement, but risk management capabilities also result in confidence. There is, however, often a complacency towards risk, such as it will not happen to me. Negative impacts of accidents can range from an increase in legal expenses, penalties, insurance fees, and reconstruction costs to a decrease in share value, industry reputation, staff motivation, and business volume. It is critical to mount a successful crisis response plan covering activation, communication, information management, and decision making.
Goal 3: Minimize your environmental footprint
The environment is a hot topic, so environmental issues always have a huge impact. There is the cost of containment, cleanup, and damages resulting from a release. Reducing your business impact on the environment is crucial. The first two goals will already help minimize damage to the environment. Imagine having a proper emergency response plan in place that results in quick activation and fast containment of a chemical spill, for example. We should always promote excellence in supply chain operations to achieve higher efficiency, make better use of available resources and reduce the impact on the environment.
Make use of the UN Sustainable Development
Goals The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a blueprint to help achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The 17 SDGs are (1) No Poverty, (2) Zero Hunger, (3) Good Health and Well-being, (4) Quality Education, (5) Gender Equality, (6) Clean Water and Sanitation, (7) Affordable and Clean Energy, (8) Decent Work and Economic Growth, (9) Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, (10) Reducing Inequality, (11) Sustainable Cities and Communities, (12) Responsible Consumption and Production, (13) Climate Action, (14) Life Below Water, (15) Life On Land, (16) Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, (17) Partnerships for the Goals. Companies should use this as a guideline and pick Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to act in their approach to sustainability. To select their SDGs, businesses in our industry can focus on a safe working environment, preventing pollution, durable infrastructure, and the energy transition, for example.
The business case for investing in sustainability is clear and the only way for companies to survive. I hope my article will help you to set or re-frame your sustainable development goals. The UN SDGs are a good place to get started. Let me know if my message resonates with you. And if so, I ask you to grab a pen and paper and spend 5 minutes writing down what you think you can do differently to improve sustainability and help the environment in the next 12 months. Let me know.
Do you want to implement the three sustainable development goals suggested in this post? Download our Whitepaper to find the methods.
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