Al Benyan speaking at the conference

Leaders of the GCC chemical industry have reiterated their commitment to advancing sustainability, developing nature-positive solutions, and contributing to climate action at the 4th Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) Responsible Care Conference, being held in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

In line with the event’s theme ‘Seizing the New Normal Opportunities through Responsible Care’, senior industry leaders, government officials, dignitaries and stakeholders from global organisations attended the high-profile event to demonstrate their support to sustainable industry performance, which contributes to mitigating climate impact and positions the GCC as an important player in efforts to achieve carbon targets.

Delivering the opening address at the conference on day one, Yousef Al Benyan, Vice Chairman and CEO, SABIC, and Chairman, GPCA, praised the role of GPCA and its achievements over the past 15 years.

He said: “Today, it is leading a new phase of transformation, moving towards maximising the returns of our industry, advancing its developmental and social impact, and raising its standards to achieve sustainability goals.”

At a time when the chemical industry is on the way to playing an even bigger role in the future of global communities, it is imperative that companies in this field focus all the more on safety and commit to producing even greater outcomes in Responsible Care.

“This includes adopting new technologies, identifying the challenges we face, and embracing effective sustainable methodologies, through which we create value in everything we do,” Al Benyan added.

In his keynote address, Baudouin Kelecom, Regional Environmental and Regulatory Manager, ExxonMobil and Chair, ICCA Responsible Care Leadership Group, said: “Sustainable development is one of the pillars of the Responsible Care charter and Responsible Care is the basis for addressing sustainability.”

At the GPCA Responsible Care Conference being held from October 31 to November 2, leaders will discuss important issues, and the opportunities and challenges to deliver on the region’s sustainability commitments, coinciding with the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

The whole world will watch closely as the parties are expected to urge the public and private sector to do their part to turn the tide on climate change and take concrete actions to put a world with net-zero carbon emissions within reach. Prior to the meeting, ministers called on nations to meet the $100 billion per year climate finance goal.

This is against the backdrop of Saudi Arabia launching the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) and a Middle East Green Initiative last month with the aim of securing SR39 billion ($10.4 billion) to support efforts towards reducing regional carbon emissions.

Furthermore, GPCA has released the 2020 edition of its Performance Metrics Report ‘Rising to the New Normal Challenges and Opportunities’, which provides an annual review of the environmental, health, safety, and security (EHS&S) performance of GPCA member companies.

Despite a 54 per cent increase in chemicals production, non-hazardous disposal at GPCA member companies dropped by 50 per cent, when compared to the seven-year average from 2013 to 2019.

Wastewater discharges too registered a substantial decrease against the same period (2013 to 2019), with a drop of 76 per cent, while non-hazardous waste dropped by 27 per cent in 2020 from the year before.

In an effort to drive continuous sustainability improvements across the chemical industry in the region, Dr Abdulwahab Al Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA, used the conference platform to announce the launch of the Gulf Process Safety Network, the first of its kind professional group in the region representing the chemical and petrochemical industry in the six GCC states.

The purpose of the network is to establish a regional platform of process safety experts that enables and supports knowledge exchange, investigates major process safety incidents, and promotes collaboration among GPCA member companies.

According to Al Sadoun: “I am pleased to see efforts made on all fronts to advance sustainability, environment, health, safety and security (EHS&S) performance across the regional chemical industry over the last year, despite facing major challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The hard work and efforts of GPCA member companies as well as the Responsible Care Committee have culminated in the announcement of the region’s first Process Safety Network and the release of the 2020 Performance Metrics Report, and I commend everyone involved for this significant milestone in our collective journey.”

He added: “There is no better place than Riyadh and no better time than now to address the challenges related to sustainability. The road ahead is long and far from easy but the chemical industry in the GCC has already demonstrated strong commitment to investing in technology, fostering collaboration and formulating key partnerships to meet our climate commitments. GPCA stands more committed than ever to enable the industry to advance its progress towards EHS&S excellence and support its continuous efforts.”