24 July 2018
Roadmap Paves the Way for SDG Implementation in Chemical Sector
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The World Business Council for Sustainable Development launched the Chemical Sector SDG Roadmap at the SDG Business Forum, in the margins of the 2018 HLPF.

The roadmap identifies the ten most material SDGs to the industry, articulates 18 “impact opportunities” that can help achieve them, and describes the short-, medium- and long-term actions needed, in collaboration with key partners.

17 July 2018: The ‘Chemical Sector SDG Roadmap,’ developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in partnership with chemical industry leaders, describes how chemical producers can come together to contribute to the SDGs. Launched in the margins of the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the roadmap identifies the most “material” Goals and targets for the chemical industry.

The publication recalls the Business and Sustainable Development Commission’s (BSDC) flagship report of January 2017, titled, ‘Better Business, Better World,’ which emphasized a need for companies to coalesce around common sector roadmaps that can guide each industry’s shift towards sustainable development. In response, WBCSD pioneered a set of SDG Sector Roadmap Guidelines that can be applied to any industry seeking to develop a roadmap.

The Chemical Sector SDG Roadmap is the first of its kind, piloting WBCSD’s three-step approach as articulated in the general guidelines. The roadmap aims to build understanding on: the chemical sector’s current level of SDG interaction across the value chain; areas where the sector can make the largest contribution to the SDGs; and short-, medium- and long-term actions that can deliver meaningful SDG impact.

Private sector participants at other HLPF side events noted that the chemical sector is the “industry of industries,” meaning its reach can affect all areas of production. Against this context, the roadmap identifies ten of the 17 SDGs as being of higher priority: Goals 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13 and 14 . These Goals stood out, the roadmap notes, based on: an analysis of how the chemical sector value chain interacts with each SDG; an exploration of the sector’s positive and negative impacts on the Goals; an assessment of the sector’s potential to impact each Goal; and a mapping of the SDGs in a materiality matrix to understand sectoral priorities.

As a US$4 trillion industry employing 20 million people, the Roadmap notes, the chemical sector has opportunities to be found through managing its own operational footprint, as well as by working along the value chain. The roadmap articulates 18 opportunities to contribute to the above SDGs, clustered into five themes: food, water, people and health, energy and infrastructure and cities, also noting cross-cutting factors such as human rights, a low-carbon economy and digitization.

On food, for example, the roadmap outlines three “impact opportunities” around: increasing productivity of the food system; reducing both food waste via better packaging and preventing waste from food packaging; and transforming food additives to combat malnutrition. The publication notes that these contribute to SDGs 2, 9, 12 and 14.

To achieve each of these impact opportunities, the roadmap spells out key actions points and partners needed to deliver the opportunity, whether the chemical sector will need to offer low, medium or high levels of input, and the timeframe for engagement (short-, medium-, or long-term). Further, it defines whether the initiative is a product innovation, process innovation or partnership innovation, noting the SDG targets affected and extent of impact (low, medium, high).

The roadmap also divides chemical manufacturers into five categories: commodities, diversified products, fertilizers and agriculture, industrial gases, and specialty high value-added chemicals. It notes that targeted working groups will be needed to advance the various action points, calling on actors in the industry to leverage the roadmap so that they can bring together collaborators from both within and outside of the sector. [Publication: Chemical Sector SDG Roadmap] [WBCSD Guidelines for Sector Roadmaps] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on ‘Better Business, Better World’]

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