AkzoNobel supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, countries around the world adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Devised by the United Nations, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out a comprehensive list of targets to be achieved by 2030, covering all three dimensions – economic, environmental and social – of sustainable development.

Sustainable Development Goals – Collected (illustration)Sustainable Development Goals – Collected (illustration)

Although they are primarily aimed at governments, the SDGs also call on businesses to apply their creativity and innovation to help solve sustainable development challenges. An advantage for companies putting the SDGs at the heart of what they do is they can discover new growth opportunities and reduce their risk profile across the value chain.

Ultimately, the SDGs mean companies will increasingly pay for the cost of their negative impact on the environment and society, emphasizing the growing importance of radical resource efficiency. New business opportunities will also open up for companies that develop innovative solutions for tackling the challenges that the SDGs represent.

AkzoNobel takes this challenge to heart. In 2014, we were one of over 60 signatories of the Post-2015 Charter that committed to contributing to the achievement of the SDGs. Through our Planet Possible sustainability agenda and our global initiative, we aim to be part of the solution.

Our contribution

We recognize that different companies impact each SDG to a different extent, subject to geography, sector and strategic profile. In 2016, we revised our review of the SDGs against our own agenda and priorities, in line with guidance from the SDG compass – a tool developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, UN Global Compact and Global Reporting Initiative. The findings revealed that we contribute, to varying degrees, to all the SDGs through our operations and supply chain, products and Human Cities initiative. There are a few where we can have a particular impact through our products or activities – including SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy; SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production; and SDG 13: Climate action. Our main focus areas are SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities and SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals, which are explained in more detail below.

Further information on our complete SDG mapping can be found in Note 3 of the Sustainability statements.

Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities

SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities (logo/icon)SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities (logo/icon)

Founded in 2016 to build on the work of our global Human Cities initiative, the Coalition is focused on contributing to SDG 11. This public-private partnership was created after AkzoNobel brought together a unique coalition of global and local partners from business, governments, academia and civil society to help make megacities in the emerging world more liveable and prosperous places for all. Each partner organization uses its expertise to improve the economic, environmental and social development of cities, such as designing new financing mechanisms for large infrastructure projects (e.g. water sanitation, affordable housing). AkzoNobel CEO Ton Büchner serves as Chairman of its Supervisory Board.

The work of the Human Cities Coalition includes designing inclusive models to build sustainable business cases that meet the many planning challenges megacities face. This is based on an approach where bottom-up meets top-down, which means community organizations are closely involved in the co-creation of solutions, while public-private partnerships and financing ensure feasibility of the implementation. To ensure that impact on the ground is achieved, measurement plays a key role. One of the main aims of the Human Cities Coalition is to ensure this approach is converted into a replicable and scalable model. The first two cities for which urban interventions will be designed are Jakarta and Manila.

Launched in 2014, Human Cities is everything we do for and with society and includes the work of our global Community Program and “Let’s Colour” initiative. During 2016, it saw the introduction of more than 300 projects, impacting over nine million people.

The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The goals are interconnected – often the key to success on one will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another.

Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals (logo/icon)SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals (logo/icon)

Partnerships between private companies – as well as public-private partnerships – are becoming ever more important to accelerate sustainable development. At AkzoNobel, we appreciate the power of partnerships to help give us further momentum to becoming a more sustainable business. This enables us to have an impact on creating economic, environmental and social value, thereby contributing to the achievement of the SDGs. A number of examples where we have acted as consortium leader can be found throughout this Report 2016 and on our corporate website, including:

  • We established a consortium with Van Gansewinkel, Air Liquide, AVR, Enerkem and various others to explore the feasibility of setting up waste-to-chemicals facilities in Europe, contributing to SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production. See Note 8 of the Sustainability statements
  • AkzoNobel led a partnership with Google, Philips and DSM to jointly source power from renewable energy projects, contributing to SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy. As part of this collaboration, the first agreement is to buy power from the Krammer wind park in the Netherlands
  • Another partnership contributing to SDG 7 is our sustainable steam project in Delfzijl, the Netherlands. We have signed a 12-year agreement with Dutch energy provider Eneco to purchase steam generated from reclaimed wood. See Note 8 of the Sustainability statements

We set up a landmark carbon credits scheme for ship owners in conjunction with the Gold Standard Foundation and the Fremco Group which is contributing to SDG 13: Climate action. See the case study New business models driving fresh approaches to sustainability.

More details on how we aim to scale up our positive impact and minimize our negative impact across the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainability – and throughout the value chain – can be found under Creating shared value across three dimensions in the Sustainability statements.

Human Cities

Everything we do for and with society is channeled through our Human Cities initiative. This incorporates AkzoNobel’s Community Program, which encourages and gives financial support for employees to get involved, hands-on, in their local communities; and our “Let’s Colour” program, which uses the power of color to improve people’s lives.

Human Cities

Everything we do for and with society is channeled through our Human Cities initiative. This incorporates AkzoNobel’s Community Program, which encourages and gives financial support for employees to get involved, hands-on, in their local communities; and our “Let’s Colour” program, which uses the power of color to improve people’s lives.