Identification and Management of Sustainability Topics
In 2023, we updated our materiality analysis from 2022. The results do not only set the framework for reporting, but also help us to better understand the complex and sometimes diverging requirements and expectations that our stakeholders have of us and to define strategically relevant topics for our long-term business success. As part of the update in 2023, we reviewed whether new topics had been identified or the topics from the previous year had significantly changed in priority. We used a big data tool to review the relevance of sustainability topics for various stakeholder groups. We also included the expertise of external stakeholders, with whom we are in constant contact, and of employees in this review.
A sustainability aspect is considered material in the sense of double materiality if it has been classified as having both impact materiality and financial materiality. To assess impact materiality, both actual and potential positive and negative impacts of our company’s activities were considered along the value chain. To this end, the scale, scope and likelihood of occurrence of these impacts were assessed. For the analysis of financial materiality the topics were classified based on their potential financial impacts on BASF. Specifically, we analyzed how each sustainability aspect affects us geographically, for example, whether a local business unit or an entire region is affected, whether it impacts our production, our employees, the achievement of targets we have set for the BASF Group, or our reputation.
Identified key sustainability topics
- Circularity and resource efficiency
- Climate change adaptation
- Climate change mitigation
- Process safety1
- Water and wastewater
- Diversity, inclusion and equal work
- Human rights and labor rights
- Occupational health and safety
- Product stewardship
- Business ethics
1 The topic is presented separately here due to its allocation to the “Environmental” category, but it was considered in the materiality analysis as “Process safety, occupational health and safety.”
The topics from 2022 were confirmed, with two adjustments: “Occupational health and safety” was expanded to include “process safety.” “Plastic waste” was integrated into the overarching topic of “circularity and resource efficiency.” Based on this update, 11 topics were identified as material (see list) and confirmed by the BASF Sustainability Reporting and Controlling Committee. At the beginning of 2024, we will review the methodology of our materiality analysis again to ensure that it meets the requirements of the European Sustainability Reporting Standards, for example, in terms of double materiality.
Our organizational and management structures
Together with decentrally organized specialists, the units Corporate Strategy & Sustainability and Corporate Finance are responsible for integrating sustainability into decision-making processes and for steering and reporting on sustainability topics. The Corporate Strategy & Sustainability unit is also responsible for the global steering of climate-related matters. The Net Zero Accelerator unit plays a key role in achieving our climate protection targets by accelerating and implementing projects related to low-emission production technologies, circular economy and renewable energy. The Corporate Finance unit reports to the Chief Financial Officer, while the other two units report to the Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors.
Sustainability topics are discussed and managed by the Board of Executive Directors. When making its decisions, the Board of Executive Directors considers the results and recommendations from sustainability evaluations of business processes. It makes decisions with strategic relevance for the Group and monitors the implementation of strategic plans and target achievement. The Supervisory Board is regularly briefed on the development of individual sustainability topics by the Board of Executive Directors.
The Chief Human Rights Officer is responsible for further embedding human rights aspects in decision-making processes. He reports directly to the Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors.
We systematically evaluate sustainability criteria, including the effects of climate change, as an integral part of decisions on investments, acquisitions and divestitures in property, plant and equipment and financial assets. In this way, we not only assess economic dimensions, but also the potential impacts on areas such as the environment, human rights or the local community. We evaluate both the potential impacts of our activities here as well as how we are affected.
If we identify potential negative impacts, for example, in planned investments, these are presented transparently in the internal decision-making process together with possible mitigation measures.
In our Sustainable Finance Roundtable, experts from departments such as Finance, Corporate Strategy, Investor Relations and Communications discuss new legal or capital market-driven requirements. The interdisciplinary group analyzes the steadily growing requirements, assesses the impacts on BASF and drives forward the necessary change processes as well as the concrete implementation of measures.
The Sustainability Reporting and Controlling Committee is the central decision-making body for questions relating to internal and external reporting and the controlling of sustainability topics. This committee of managers from the relevant Corporate Center and operating units facilitates rapid decisions to ensure that external and internal requirements for sustainability-related information and data are met immediately and in the best possible way.