Sustainability is more than CO2 neutrality and reaching Paris Agreement targets – How can the chemical industry act as a leader and benefit from a truly sustainable world


Khemia, Germany


Sustainability has been defined as meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generation to meet theirs. Let’s then look at what the chemical industry covers today, using the UNSDGs as our redline. More can obviously be done to address infrastructure, political stability, equality of chances, etc. and would actually immediately generate more value for the whole industry as well as for the whole society. This is why we need to act now, and why our role as industry leaders is to refocus the chemical industry on its mission to enable a safe and wealthy living for all inhabitants of the planet, through its own successful and truly sustainable development.

When one speaks about sustainability or sustainable development today, many will immediately understand environmental friendliness or climate change and climate neutrality. It is however much more. Sustainable development refers to the capacity for the Earth’s biosphere and the human civilization to coexist. It can be defined as meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs (1).


The United Nations created in 2012 and adopted in 2015, within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 17 goals that lead the way to a sustainable world. These goals aim to eradicate poverty and hunger, ensure good health and access to clean water (Goals 1, 2, 3 and 6), to give access to quality education and reach gender equality (Goals 4 & 5).
They additionally ensure access for all to affordable clean energy, promote economic growth combined to a decent work for all, and support building resilient infrastructures enabling sustainable industry and fostering innovation (Goals 7 to 9).
While Goal 10 addresses the reduction of inequalities within and among countries, Goal 11 drives th ...