Together Forever: Building Partnerships for the Goals

11 best practice examples on sustainability partnering from the chemical industry
Together Forever: Building Partnerships for the Goals Together Forever: Building Partnerships for the Goals
Publ. date 8 Nov 2016
If you want to go far, go together: unleashing the power of partnerships is key to accelerate performance on today’s biggest sustainability challenges. The Sustainable Development Goals provide an excellent opportunity to identify key issues and align organizations that are working towards the same objectives. Successful examples of how to develop impactful partnerships with value chain partners and other stakeholders are set by a range of different chemical companies.

One of the main conclusions from our recent report on the state of circular economy innovation within the chemical industry was that the approach of successful frontrunner companies towards a circular model is characterized by close collaboration within the value chain. Entire value chains are competing more and more on their sustainability profile. For successful partnering, the willingness to collaborate, possessing the right skills, and commitment of senior management are key factors.

Is the chemical industry selling itself short?

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a widely recognized framework to identify organizations that are working around similar sustainability issues and facilitate partnering. Sector-wide industry data from eRevalue on what chemical companies report on in terms of SDGs showed that topics such as climate action, clean water, and renewable energy are already widely discussed. Reporting on goals 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and 17 (partnerships for the goals), in contrast, stays far behind.

However, the chemical industry may be one of the most active sectors when it comes to collaborating and partnering, particularly in (open) innovation models. Are chemical players being too modest, or taking this for granted? We have selected a number of partnerships that illustrate how the industry collaborates in order to create impact across a range of the sector’s most material Sustainable Development Goals.

Lessons learned from successful partnerships

As the examples show, the SDGs provide a solid and universal framework for multi-stakeholder collaboration between businesses, NGOs, governments, and communities. In order to establish a successful partnership, mutual understanding of vital elements such as partnering competencies and leadership is required – not only to make the collaboration profitable for the individual company – but to achieve both business, societal and environmental prosperity. From our experience, we have boiled down a top 3 key success factors for partnering:

  1. A pro-active selection approach and crystal clear criteria that pinpoint what is desirable and feasible for the potential partnership to achieve, is fundamental when choosing a strategic partner to collaborate around a specific development agenda. This is all about real conversations about where partners are today and where they want to go. Furthermore, it requires a lucid view on a (lengthy) list of joint strategic options and setting up a comprehensible set of KPIs that define the success the partnership is looking for.
  2. A strategic partnership team has to make tough choices. This requires that team members are empowered to make decisions, have the right leadership skills, have an in-depth understanding of which  joint initiatives are right to pursue, and understanding how to make them winning.
  3. Execution of one joint strategic partnership agenda entails collective ownership of the strategic partnership, working together across cultural boundaries, individual commitment to – and accountability for – action in order to create maximum impact that is measured with a solid set of KPIs that were defined at the start.

Is your company working on forging alliances with value chain partners and other stakeholders? Please contact us at for more information.

About Nikkie Vinke

Seasoned advisor in ESG benchmarking, sustainability strategy and stakeholder engagement. |

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