Participants Needed to Develop a Capability Framework for Sustainable Value Chains

The new framework offers a broader engagement of globally dispersed suppliers.

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and The Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) are soliciting pilot participants in a new project that would evelop and test a capability framework for sustainable value chains.

The 'capability' approach shifts the focus from driving performance on certain sustainability metrics to building the capacity of organizations in a supply chain to identify and meet priorities tailored to their business strategy and local resources. This customized decision-making process is expected to better balance the tension between the economic logic of global value chains and the localized logic of sustainability.

The capability framework is designed to:

  • incrementally build skills,
  • gradually broaden the boundaries of concern from local facilities to the value chain, and
  • eventually broaden the boundaries to include civil society.

Each of these stages has a set of key activities appropriate to that stage of development, and that lay the foundation for moving to higher levels of performance. Improvement efforts are targeted, facilitating successful projects and faster learning.

"Companies are being overwhelmed by initiatives to measure their sustainability performance. The capability framework promises a much broader engagement of globally dispersed suppliers than possible through traditional supply chain management programs, and these suppliers are critical to the success of the various initiatives," observed project manager Tom Swarr.

The approach complements many existing supply chain initiatives to develop product sustainability indices or measure Scope 3 GHG emissions by ensuring that lower-tier suppliers have the capacity to provide accurate data.

The UNEP/SETAC project is structured in two phases. Phase 1 will build a network of companies from various industry sectors and geographic regions to refine the model and ensure its broad applicability. Phase 1 will also develop a detailed project plan, a self-assessment protocol and supporting training materials for a Phase 2 pilot of the framework. A stakeholder workshop to disseminate results of Phase 1 and launch the next phase will be held in conjunction with the SETAC Europe 20th Annual Meeting in Seville, Spain on 23-27 May, 2010.

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