Supply Chains and Sustainability – UNGlobal Compact – Resources and Ways to Engage

supply chainsA company’s entire supply chain can make a significant impact in promoting human rights, fair labour practices, environmental progress and anti-corruption policies. Companies rank supply chain practices as the biggest challenge to improving their sustainability performance. In response, the Global Compact provides a range of resources and projects to assist companies in this regard, all of which provide opportunities for the academic community to engage with and incorporate into curriculum and research.

This one pager provides a brief overview of the different projects and resources available on the topic of Supply Chains and Sustainability by the Global Compact and outlines a range of ways that academic institutions can get involved in these projects.

The Global Compact hosts a website,, which is a one-stop-shop for business seeking information about supply chain sustainability. It provides information to assist business practitioners in embedding sustainability in supply chains including initiatives, programmes, codes, standards, networks, resources, and tools, as well as a range of case examples highlighting company practices.

Guide to Traceability, produced by the Global Compact and BSR, helps companies and stakeholders understand and advance supply chain traceability, which is the process of identifying and tracking a product or component’s path from raw material to finished good. Traceability is a tremendously impactful tool for advancing sustainability objectives, but still has a long way to go before it is an integral part of sustainable supply chain management and is used widely by companies. The guide shows companies and stakeholders how to effectively engage together in traceability.

Practical Guide for Continuous Improvement looks at how to integrate sustainability into procurement strategies. It includes alignment with relevant standards and initiatives and also reflects current and emerging trends within this area. The guide can also help schools think about their own procurement strategies and aligning them with sustainability goals.

An online assessment and learning tool around Supply Chain Sustainability is also available aimed at assisting businesses in measuring progress in implementing a holistic sustainable supply chain approach. This tool assesses gaps and share challenges and successes.
There are also several resources that relate to specific issues within the supply chain. Human rights examples include:

  • Human Rights and Labour Working Group Good Practice Notes on Supply Chains A series of Good Practice Notes on how companies can partner with suppliers, governments and civil society to promote human rights in supply chains.
  • Embedding Human Rights in Business Practice – Case Studies Series: A collection of case studies about efforts by companies to integrate human rights principles into their practices and supply chains. Case Studies on ANZ, Ford, Telenor Group and Total include a focus on supply chain management.

And corruption:

  • Fighting Corruption in the Supply Chain: A Guide for Customers and Suppliers Practical guidance and tools for both customers and suppliers to engage in the fight against corruption.
  • Stand Together Against Corruption this resource provides short and practical guidance to companies on managing anti-corruption in the supply chain.

Ways for the academic community to get involved

  • Listen to specific examples: Global Compact hosts a number of webinars on topics around sustainability and supply chain including traceability focused on specific sectors including forestry, minerals and diamonds, garments, and food and agriculture. These recordings are available on their website and can be used in the classroom.
  • Case studies: has a section with dozens of short case studies of global compact companies implementing sustainability strategies in specific parts of their supply chain which can be incorporated into the classroom including Unilever’s sustainable sourcing of palm oil or Intel developing a “conflict free” supply chain.
  • Watch out for calls for input: Most recently there was call out for input on traceability solutions for the apparel sector in order to understand the functional and technical requirements along each step of the supply chain, and then explore what solutions providers exist that could address these requirements.
  • Use the website and current topics explored by this group of companies to inspire student and research projects or connect with these companies locally to propose related partnerships or to invite them in as guest speakers.

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