INDUSTRY INSIGHTThought Leadership

10 Years of Responsible Care® in the Arabian Gulf

By Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA

This year we celebrate 10 years since the adoption of Responsible Care®, the industry’s voluntary commitment to improving its Environment, Health, Safety and Security (EHS&S) performance, by chemical producers in the Arabian Gulf region.

At a time when environmental responsibility unites governments, industries and communities across the globe, it is more important than ever to shed light on the significance of this voluntary initiative and the role that regional chemical producers have played over the years to position the region on the world’s map in achieving excellence.

The Arabian Gulf’s Responsible Care® journey began in 2009, when CEOs of 29 GPCA full member companies signed the Responsible Care Declaration of Support, joining 63 countries currently and 96 of the world’s 100 largest chemical producers who have adopted the program. This marked the official implementation of the initiative in the GCC region.

That same year, GPCA held the region’s first RC technical workshop and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the American Chemistry Council (ACC) for collaboration in the development and implementation of the Responsible Care® program.

The adoption of RC came at the just right time, as the lack of standardization in the adoption of technologies, industry practices and standards across the chemical industry in the region had for years inhibited its progress.

Within 18 months since adopting RC, GPCA became the youngest ever association in the world to join the prestigious Responsible Care Leadership Group of the International Council of Chemical Association (ICCA).

“The adoption of Responsible Care® came at the just right time, as the lack of standardization in the adoption of technologies, industry practices and standards across the chemical industry in the region had for years inhibited its progress.”

“More than world recognition, Responsible Care® has brought about a cultural shift and the highest level of transparency, driving rapid EHS&S improvements.”

Then a year later, as part of our voluntary commitment to transparency and measuring the industry’s performance, we published the Responsible Care Codes of Management Practices which saw GPCA member companies begin to report regularly on key performance metrics for the first time. At the start of last year, an updated, second edition of the codes was published and presented at the 2nd GPCA Responsible Care Conference in Dubai.

In 2014, an even bigger milestone was in the making when we launched the Gulf Safety & Quality Assurance System (SQAS)– a unifying system designed to evaluate the Environment, Health, Safety, Security and Quality (EHSS&Q) – for logistic service providers (LSP) in the region. We then extended our efforts to unify industry standards across the value chain with the introduction of Responsible Care® to include the petrochemical and chemical LSPs in the region for the first time.

In so doing we aimed to promote transparency and accountability and empower our industry stakeholders to take meaningful steps to address their environmental and safety obligations. In 2017, the GPCA Responsible Care Committee (RCC) adopted another world-class initiative – the Peer Review Program which was successfully completed by seven GPCA full member companies till date.

The ethos behind Responsible Care® is safe chemicals management and commitment to continuous improvement. Since the adoption of RC, chemical producers and logistics service providers across the value chain in the region have enjoyed global and regional acclaim, bringing home 10 Responsible Care® Excellence Awards, for demonstrating environmental leadership and innovation at various levels of their processes.

But more than world recognition, RC has brought about a cultural shift and the highest level of transparency from the floor of our member companies’ operations to outside the fence, driving rapid EHS&S improvements and adopting a mindset of constant learning and sharing of best practices.

On 14-16 October 2019, the global and regional Responsible Care® community will gather in Jubail, Saudi Arabia to mark a “Decade of Excellence” at the 3rd GPCA Responsible Care Conference. On day zero, a special student seminar will take place as part of GPCA’s flagship Leaders of Tomorrow program, bringing together university students from across the GCC, to spread awareness about Responsible Care® and the industry’s role and commitment to sustainability.

We will launch the 2018 Responsible Care Performance Metrics Report which this year combines information from 42 participating companies with 924 data entries, a noteworthy increase from previous years.

I am particularly proud of the level of transparency the report demonstrates, which is a true reflection of the support we have from our members and a testament to the leapfrog improvement and commitment to EHS&S standards that we’ve witnessed over the years.

Since its launch, more than 125 incidents have been shared and over 75 company’s success stories have been celebrated. This piece is a tribute to everyone who made the success of our journey a reality and a celebration of their achievements. But the journey of Responsible Care has no end, and I look forward to witnessing the industry’s continuous progress and the making of new milestones in the years to come.