ER And Sdgs

Supporting UN Sustainable Development Goals with level 1 telephone emergency response best practice

02 Feb 2022


Telephone emergency response is about more than compliance. It is a powerful means to demonstrate your organisations' commitment to sustainability frameworks, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and other interlinking sustainability initiatives, like Responsible Care®.

Ricardo recently hosted the virtual event ‘Supporting UN Sustainable Development Goals with telephone emergency response best practice’ to discuss the role telephone emergency response plays in supporting organisations to show their commitment to implementing sustainability frameworks.

The event included a panel of leading experts in the chemical industry from top organisations and associations around the world: Michele Twilley, Certified Industrial Hygienist, AIHA; Gert Van Bortle, Vice President, BASF; Peng Paternostre, Transportation & Sector Groups Manager, European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic); Dr Gerhard Ahlbrecht, Responsible Care & Logistics Manager, European Association of Chemical Distributors (Fecc); and Craig Thomson, session chair and Head of Chemical Risk at Ricardo. 

In this blog, we explore important sustainability initiatives and frameworks and the role telephone emergency response plays in supporting you on your journey to becoming a more sustainable organisation, including key insights from the panel.


What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals and how are they supported by telephone emergency response best practice?

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDGs are a global framework of 17 interlinked global initiatives that aim to protect people and the environment, to help achieve a more sustainable future for the planet. Many SDGs apply to organisations that manufacture, transport or use chemicals. Below we have outlined SDGs where telephone emergency response best practice can provide a positive impact on the SDG agenda:

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

Target 3.9 focuses on reducing the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals. Organisations should strive to minimise the negative impact on human health from the exposure to chemicals by having an emergency response provision in place that can provide actionable advice in the language of the caller, at the point of chemical misuse or exposure. 

Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation for all and Goal 14: Life below water

Target 6.3 focuses on water quality and wastewater and 14.1 focuses on reducing marine pollution. Organisations across the entire supply chain have a responsibility to ensure they have emergency response plans in place that protect water quality and maintain sanitation. A robust telephone emergency response partner will understand the full scope of the incident and will work with those at the scene of an incident to intervene safely, reducing the chances of chemicals entering waterways and causing further harm to the environment.

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Target 12.4 focuses on the environmentally sound management of chemicals. Organisations should ensure their emergency response service has a strong knowledge of chemicals and the impact they can have on the environment. This enables them to provide actionable advice to mitigate a chemical incident, protecting people and the environment from harm throughout the life cycle of chemical products. In addition, target 12.6 encourages large and transactional organisations to include sustainability information in their reporting, including the steps that are taken to protect people and the environment from harm in a chemical incident.

Investing in a level 1 telephone emergency response partner, which provides advice when there is an incident involving chemicals, is one action that organisations can commit to taking to have a positive impact on the SDG agenda. Ricardo's emergency responders consider the immediate risks posed by the release of chemicals and will provide proportionate and actionable advice to the caller that can mitigate risks to the environment and reduce the negative impact on human health.

During our event, we found that 46% per cent of organisations either don’t know or don’t believe their emergency response provision can provide advice, making the service they have in place less effective in having an impact on the SDG agenda. 

A telephone emergency response service that cannot provide advice is unable to effectively reduce the impact of a chemical spill incident, potentially allowing the incident to escalate and cause a pollution event. It is ultimately the advice part of a service, such as ours, which is critical to reducing the impact a chemical incident can have.  

Having a robust emergency response partner means interlinking sustainability initiatives are also supported. Dr Gerhard Ahlbrecht, Responsible Care and Logistics Manager, Fecc, said: “The EU Green Deal is the new 2030 Biodiversity Strategy that aims to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems by 2030. It is in line with the UN sustainable development goals and, of course, in emergency response, we have a role to play to mitigate the effects of incidents involving dangerous chemicals.”


Cultural shift in sustainability reporting

Perceptions of telephone emergency response are beginning to change with more organisations having higher expectations of their provider. This is partially because of a growing correlation between external financial investment in an organisation and its sustainability efforts.

Stakeholders are increasingly vigilant about what organisations are pledging for their sustainability strategies and how they will be implemented. Investors, as well as other stakeholders, are requesting organisations be more transparent with their sustainability and environmental strategies.

Michele Twilley, Certified Industrial Hygienist, AIHA, said: “There has been a cultural shift in investment strategies by younger investors, such that corporations in the USA are embracing sustainability through demonstrated environmental, social and governance policies in their annual financial reports. Stakeholders not only want to make sure their organisation is supporting sustainability frameworks, such as the UN sustainable development goals, but are now making sure their customers, suppliers and manufacturers are instilling the same ethos in their culture.”

SDG 12 aims to “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”, and target 12.6 encourages “large and transactional organisations to include sustainability information into their sustainability reporting”. Showcasing a robust and versatile telephone emergency response partner such as Ricardo as part of your sustainability reporting demonstrates to stakeholders that your organisation is serious about protecting the environment, their employees, their stakeholders and their own reputation when an incident occurs at any point in the product or chemical life cycle. 


Why you should choose Ricardo as your telephone emergency response partner

39% of organisations said they don’t know if their current telephone emergency response service is capable of supporting beyond emergency response compliance regulations and are therefore uncertain if it can support SDGs. Just having a telephone emergency response number on product and safety documentation is no longer enough and will not support organisations who manufacture, use or transport chemicals in making a positive impact on the SDG agenda. Telephone emergency response provision like ours provides advice beyond the safety data.

Choosing an external emergency response provider should not be a snap decision and should be taken very seriously. Peng Paternostre, Transportation & Sector Groups Manager, Cefic, advised: “Telephone emergency response can be subcontracted to an external provider, but the manufacturer of the product still remains responsible.” It is important to choose an emergency response partner you can rely on, and who will give you complete peace of mind.

Our telephone emergency response service is aligned with the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) Guidelines for Level 1 Chemical Emergency Response and the Guiding Principles of Responsible Care®. We take full responsibility for and stand by the quality of the advice we provide, which is underwritten by our comprehensive liability insurance.

Your organisation’s commitment to protecting people and the environment is important to us. You want to make sure when an incident occurs involving a harmful chemical, advice is available to safely support those on the scene. Our emergency responders have extensive chemical and environmental knowledge. They provide advice and not just information. This means in the event of an incident, our emergency responders will advise beyond the information contained on a safety data sheet, helping to manage the risk of harm being inflicted on people or the environment.

Our service is available 24/7 and 365 days of the year, through a network of international telephone numbers and local language speakers, so it looks and feels like a local service.

Our team of experts takes into consideration your organisation’s needs, as well as any global regulations, to build a service that will meet your requirements, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. We will work with you to create a service that supports your business in areas where telephone emergency response can play a role.


Learn more about sustainability for the chemical sector >

Contact our chemical sustainability experts today