Identification and Management of Sustainability Topics

Materiality analysis

A materiality analysis helps BASF to recognize and assess key sustainability topics by examining the expectations and needs of external stakeholders - such as customers, investors, suppliers, politics and NGOs - and internal stakeholders. We use the results of our materiality analysis to constantly enhance our sustainability management by raising awareness for stakeholders’ needs and changes in their perceived importance of sustainability topics. The materiality matrix also provides a basis for guiding corporate processes to identify and manage potential opportunities and risks.

Materiality matrix


2019 we conducted an extensive materiality analysis. Therefore we identified around 100 potentially relevant topics and selected and clustered them into topics of particular importance for BASF. To assess the relevance of these topics for BASF from an external perspective, we applied big data analytics tools that harvest information from millions of data points of various sources representing the different stakeholder voices. In addition, we conducted interviews with individual key stakeholders with a holistic ESG understanding and knowledge of BASF. To assess the BASF perspective, we sent questionnaires to internal experts from various units, regions, and functions and combined these results with findings from an internal strategic impact evaluation. The results of the external and internal assessment are combined in the materiality matrix. Topics are categorized in “societal challenges” and “corporate measures to tackle societal challenges”. The first have an impact on BASF and are also impacted by BASF, whereas the latter give guidance on how to deal with these societal challenges. 

We continuously follow the development of ESG topics using big data analytics tools. These capture the constantly changing topic relevance for our stakeholders globally, comprehensively and timely. The results are evaluated internally. In 2021, we observed that the following topics have risen in importance for our stakeholders: digitalization & data security, organizational resilience, employment & diversity. There are no signs of structural shifts in the setting of topics.

To derive the topics that are material for BASF we developed the process shown in the graphic below. Here, we take into account topics that we have an impact on, topics that have an impact on us, and topics that our stakeholders consider important. The relevant topics identified based on these three dimensions of materiality include climate and energy, water, resource efficiency and waste, health and safety/ product stewardship, emissions to air and soil, and responsibility along the value chain.