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Driving Innovation And Building Inclusive Supply Chains Through Sustainability Map: Initiative Of T4SD, ITC

Sustainability Map offers data to make informed sustainability decisions in the value chain: Joseph Wozniak, Head, T4SD, ITC

At the India and Sustainability Standards 2017 conference organized by Centre of Responsible Business, there was a session on ‘The Sustainability Map: Driving Innovation and Building Inclusive Supply Chain’, with the International Trade Centre co-hosting the session. The session focused on advancing and encouraging sustainable trade with the involvement of all levels of supply chain, from SMEs to large multinational companies and government. There was a discussion on IT solutions towards facilitating the empowerment and connectivity of upstream value chain actors with downstream buyers in the agriculture and textile sector, with specific case studies presented that addressed concerns such as traceability, the need for capacity building and for the harmonization of voluntary sustainability standards, in short, how to make inclusive trade the norm.

The objectives of the session were to raise awareness on new initiatives that have emerged which contribute concretely to building sustainable supply chains and bringing SMEs into these chains, to discuss the business case for using the platform and emphasize that certification to standard is not required in the system nor of its uses, to show how various users (public and private sectors, standard organizations etc) can benefit from the Sustainability Map content.

Giving his introduction to the Sustainability Map, Joseph Wozniak, Head, Trade for Sustainable Development Programme (T4SD), International Trade Centre gave a guidance on how users can short-list relevant standards, used case illustration from the agriculture sector, focused on the relevance of SMEs in India- inclusion of SMEs in the sustainability standards space, and the linkages with the SDGs, specifically SDG 2, SDG 8 and SDG 12. Wozniak said, “The challenges faced in the trade for sustainable development are that meeting mandatory market access requirements are no longer sufficient, voluntary sustainability standards needed to access global value chains, confusion among SMEs, TSIs and governments around the proliferating VSS and so on. What we are doing is trying to put together a sustainability tool-kit, the idea is to provide a lot of different functionalities and resources to our users. We have market data on agricultural products and sustainability standards, for more informed decisions in sustainability. We are connecting businesses along sustainable value chains by creating a sustainability network”.

He also went on to add, “We have created an internal value chain management tool. We are also doing training and capacity building on the ground and beyond through this platform. The Sustainability Map is a roadmap to sustainable consumption, production, and trade. There is a standards map on the platform, which provides information on standards, code of conduct audit protocols addressing sustainability hotspots in the global supply chains.” He went on to demonstrate the functionality of the platform and its interface, showing data on different standards for sustainability. “Basically the idea is to work with cooperatives and farmers and upstream producers to collect their data and present them. There is market data on voluntary sustainability standards at your fingertips through this platform”, said Wozniak, demonstrating another part of the interface.

The panel discussion consisted of Anil Bhardwaj, Secretary-General, FISME, S. Swaminathan, Head, Industry engagement, GS1 India and Rajni Kant Sharma, Adjunct Professor, Maastricht School of Management and consultant of Fairtrade Original, Netherlands. Swaminathan said, “We work on identification of a product, we also have a concept of the unique identification of a location and then sharing of information across the value chain. We bring the industry together and work out the process and work with the communities as well. The data on everything related to farm is captured and seamlessly given to the buyer community. The platform gives an assurance of traceability through the batch number we give, which has data related to the coordinates of the farm it came from”

“We work in market access, reforms, and SME development. One of the biggest challenges I see is how information is updated. Another suggestion is that when the standard is shown, even the testing labs and where the certification was done should be shown. If you look at the global trade, developing countries rose by 44% in terms of the amount. India is generally a domestic country, but times are changing. Traditionally when speaking about CSR and voluntary and government prescribed standards, the western sensibilities dominated standards, but this is now changing. In the space of voluntary standards also, national voluntary guidelines were produced and adopted by many institutions“, said Bhardwaj.

Sharma said, “From the farmer’s perspective, till we do not have the understanding of sustainability on the grass-root level, nothing can happen. The problems on our grass-root are immense. There is very little being done on farmer empowerment. This platform will help the farmers to do something for themselves, breaking the shackles of contract farming. The whole regime worldwide is full of competition and standards”.

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