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  • Writer's pictureLucy Boreham

Shaping Our Supply Chains

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

We have seen over the last few years the progress made by Governments, businesses, investors, and individuals on the sustainability agenda. The primary focus has been on driving down carbon emissions.

But for companies to make credible climate and wider sustainability commitments, they must engage their supply chain.

Supply chain engagement on sustainability though isn’t easy – over 90% of the UK’s businesses are SMEs, the supplier landscape is fragmented and understanding, and awareness of sustainability is varied.

Chairing the Shaping Our Supply Chains panel

On Friday, I chaired the Shaping our Supply Chains panel at The Globe Group CIC #ClimateExpo at Keele Hall. The event aimed to explore how organisations need to work with their suppliers to accelerate action on sustainability, in particular carbon.

The panel of Debbie Ward of The Alliance of Sustainable Building Products; Leigh Broadhurst of SUEZ and Beth Pilgrim of Supply Change shared their insights to the audience.

For me there were four key takeaways:

1. Collaboration is key

Government, business, individuals cannot tackle the environmental and social challenges alone. We will only unlock

new solutions, drive systemic change, and ensure the ripple of impact goes further by working with others.

2. We all have a role to play

All businesses have a role to play in helping raise awareness and supporting their suppliers on their sustainability journey

. Increasingly, businesses are setting very specific sustainability requirements of their suppliers but are not always providing the support to achieve them.

There are some great examples of tools to help SMEs on this journey from the SME Climate Hub to more sector specific initiatives such as Supply Chain Sustainability School.

3. Big isn’t always best

Procurement is a key lever to drive sustainability by aligning purchasing decisions with sustainability and climate goals.

Be open to working with new and different suppliers including micro businesses and VCSEs who will help you achieve your sustainability outcomes in different ways. You can see more on developing sustainable procurement plans here.

4. Move beyond carbon tunnel syndrome

There is no doubt that carbon is one of

the most pressing challenges of all time. However, to truly create value and see the full breadth of opportunities from sustainability you need to look at the wider environmental and social impacts. We also need to ensure that our transition to a more sustainable economy is one that is fair and equal for all.

The Government announcement a couple of days earlier could have dampened the spirits of those attending but there was a

great determination to continue to deliver against the agenda.

Regardless of the wavering Government commitment to the agenda, businesses will and must keep pushing forward to create the change for a fairer and more sustainable economy.

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