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Sustainable Development Goals

Strategy for the planet: The Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals

The "Agenda 2030" adopted by 193 companies at the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development on September 25, 2015 is the closest thing to a "Strategy for the Planet". The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to end poverty, hunger and inequality, halt climate change, promote environmental protection, improve access to health and education, and build strong institutions and partnerships. With these goals for sustainable development, the international community aims to promote global economic progress and social justice while respecting the ecological needs of our planet.

Sustainability targets in the chemical industry

Not only the governments of the countries, but also all other social actors are called upon to contribute  towards achieving the sustainable development goals. Decades ago, the chemical industry was one of the first industrial sectors to explicitly commit itself to pursuing sustainable development. Since then, awareness of the need for sustainable action in the broader sense and the associated opportunities has grown and matured beyond the borders of industries and countries. Today, sustainability stands for the future viability of an industry whose solutions make important contributions to the implementation of global sustainability goals.

Committed to sustainability in the sense of the SDGs

Sustainable, integrative thinking and action supports our corporate goals in a variety of ways - be it through greater resource efficiency, good stakeholder relationships, heightened risk awareness or cost structures that offer long-term benefits. In this context, our seven "material topics" are the guiding principles for our sustainable actions. They are based on the goal of increasing the value of our company, our stakeholders and society through our operating activities. We now view sustainability in a broader context than just a few years ago. In addition to our entrepreneurial activities, we also take into account the impact of our actions on society as a whole. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an important frame of reference for us in this respect.

We want to make further significant progress on our key issues in line with the SDGs in support of the Agenda 2030. To achieve this, we need to understand exactly how our priorities are linked to the priorities of the global community.

The SDGs and their importance for LANXESS

We have carried out a detailed analysis showing where and to what extent our sustainable development priorities support the SDGs, comparing the relationships between our main themes and the SDGs down to the subgoal level. We assessed the relationship using two factors:

  • How well do SDG sub-objectives and our priorities match ("match" factor)?
  • How active are we in supporting the sub-objective (“intensity” factor)?

We examined aspects such as our governance structures, sustainability goals, social commitment, products, supply chain, initiatives and programs, and research and development. Taken together, this results in a small, medium or large contribution to the goals that we present in the “LANXESS SDG Matrix” below.

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The "LANXESS SDG Matrix" leads us to a better understanding of our contributions to the SDGs. It can help us to understand societal challenges and how our goals and strategies coordinate. It can show us what opportunities there are to market our products as solutions to key challenges anchored in the SDGs. And it can draw our attention to risks and conflicting goals so that we can address them systematically.

We also discussed the significance of SDGs for LANXESS with our stakeholders in a roundtable at the end of 2018.

Our impacts on the SDGs - today and tomorrow

Our analysis is not solely based on contributions in support of the objectives - we have also examined the impact we have today on the aspects described in the objectives. Some time ago, LANXESS created a theoretical basis for this with its impact assessment concept.

The approach is based on the idea that a company's financial results alone do not adequately reflect the benefits and costs of its business activities to society. Therefore, the calculation must be extended beyond the pure business results, and should include the monetary value of the societal benefits and costs to show the company’s true  contribution to society ("social result").

We have supplemented this concept with positive or negative influences on the aspects underlying the SDGs – and the results show that we create social value and have a positive effect on many SDGs. But the challenges are also clear - for example in the area of climate protection: By pursuing our emission targets in line with the SDGs, we are tackling these challenges consistently and comprehensibly.

Our concept of "impact assessment" helps us to understand the impact of our activities today – and also in relation to the SDGs. It also helps us make management decisions while considering the overall social result - working to reduce negative impacts and expand positive ones.

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Sebastian Röhrig

Head of Corporate Responsibility

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