The new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer firms the opportunity to improve both their performance and the societies in which they operate. But in order to achieve these goals, it’s essential that companies have a sustainable supply chain strategy in place.

The UN launched the SDGs last year as the life span of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) came to an end. From ending poverty to ensuring food security and protecting the environment, these 17 goals are set to shape the global remit for social, economic and environmental development over the next 15 years.

Unlike the MDGs, businesses have been deeply involved in the creation of these goals. The SDGs clearly acknowledge the vital role of businesses in delivering the sustainable agenda too.

On one hand, companies now have to take full responsibility for external factors such as air quality and water scarcity. In addition, they will be held accountable for both theirs and their suppliers’ conduct in relation to ethical issues.

On the other hand, more and more companies now recognise that it is in their long-term interest to invest in building safe and secure societies. Addressing development issues can contribute positively to their public image, give them a strategic advantage over competitors in the long-term and help them to make their business more effective. The expectation and demands of customers for ethical corporate behaviour provide further incentives.

Businesses play a vital role in driving the sustainable development agenda

A clear way business can make a positive impact on those in greatest need globally is through influence over theirs and their suppliers’ supply chains. As the facilitator for trade, manufacturing and production, supply chains play a crucial role in establishing sustainable patterns of production, consumption and labour. This is particularly true for sectors in which production is largely outsourced such as clothing, footwear and manufacturing.

Jul-Sep 2016 Issue

Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply