The Path to Sustainability
There is definitely a need for sustainability and sustainable development
Discussions remained active throughout 2014. On October 23, EU leaders agreed the domestic 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target of at least 40% compared to 1990. Earlier this year, the member states agreed on corporate & social responsibility-related reporting obligations for the 6,000 public interest entities operating across the EU. Of global significance, in July the UN released the full findings of its Prototype Global Sustainable Development Report. October also saw the International Alliance of Research Universities hold its annual Sustainability Science Congress in Denmark, with the aim of encouraging broader research collaboration into global sustainability issues.
For a business, sustainability can feel like a minefield. Defining its scope and fitting that to a particular business, whether big or small, is a challenge. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability are now viewed as one and the same, spanning money-saving measures to safer working conditions for employees. For consumers, sustainability is often relegated to the environmental level and avoiding over-consumption. Reconciling different expectations of a sustainable footprint is not as straightforward as it might seem.
Christian Vang, Head of Planning & Strategy at Clariant, comments:
»What is clear is that it affects each and every one of us. When a customer decides to become more sustainable, its suppliers have to become more sustainable too. It’s a chain reaction and one that has a real impact on the future of companies. Choosing to ignore it or downplay its significance means not only lost business opportunities but also risking growth opportunities in the future, even risking staying in business.«
Clariant’s sustainability concept?
Clariant is taking steps to make its commitment more visible internally and externally. Sustainability is now one of its five strategic pillars — a reflection of the increasingly key role it plays in its operations, culture, and as a driver for growth and innovation. The CEO-chaired Corporate Sustainability Council has been introduced to review the many global and regional initiatives and projects now underway, including CSR projects. Clariant is also collaborating upstream at the chemical sector level in the »Together for Sustainability« initiative to obtain greater transparency and improve sustainability within its supply chain.
The company views working with customers and the rest of the value chain to help them achieve their sustainability goals as an important responsibility. Sustainability fuels innovation, and the need to find new solutions and fresh approaches. Fundamental to this are collaboration and partnerships; a sentiment echoed by customer Unilever on granting Clariant the 2014 Unilever Partner to Win Award in the category Joint Value Creation. Dhaval Buch, Chief Procurement Officer at Unilever said: »Partner to Win plays a vital role in helping us achieve our strategy for sustainable growth, which can only be delivered through partnerships.«
Providing information about sustainability on different products and operations is a further essential element. The Sustainability@Clariant Portfolio Value Program, for example, has identified key criteria for Clariant products qualifying as sustainable. Flagship products assessed through this process will carry the EcoTain® label, making the sustainability performance of our products visible for customers and other stakeholders.
Joachim Krüger, Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability & Regulatory Affairs
The pursuit of sustainability does require a transformation process but one that companies would be foolish to ignore because of the opportunities it presents. Joachim Krueger, Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability & Regulatory Affairs at Clariant, adds:
»The strategic significance is obvious, but it is important to accept that it won’t always be easy. The concept of ›being sustainable‹ has to be ingrained in an organization’s culture for it to work. And that takes lots of analysis, time, and on-going effort to see where improvements can be made; changing to a way of working that puts sustainability front of mind at all levels of an organization. There is more we still need to do at Clariant and we are talking more about the opportunities for all employees to participate.«
Clariant is taking the path to sustainability seriously. Its listing on the renowned Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, in addition to the 2013-achieved European Index, recognizes its progress. The company has also given its support to the Responsible Care® Global Charter with the signing of the Responsible Care® declaration by CEO Hariolf Kottmann. Clariant sees this path of continuous improvement as worth following, and there is much more to come.
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