Self-governance for sustainable global supply chains: Can it deliver the impacts needed?
Business Strategy and the Environment
Utrecht University - Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht, Netherlands; Stellenbosch University - Sustainability Institute, Stellenbosch, South Africa
The world community convened in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 for the third UN Conference on Sustainable Development. We are, however, increasingly facing major persistent threats, which despite being known for a few decades are still far from being solved - or are even still increasing. On the individual business level, this has four major implications: increased social pressures; possible reputational damage; exposure to resource wars; and front-running competitors adjusting their value chain strategies. In supply chain governance this leads to four main types of strategies: do it yourself; join forces; the 5C-approach and harmonising. The key question is: is this sufficient? Imagine 2022 - where will we be 10 years after Rio 2012? Is a rapid and structural transition to a circular and fair global economy possible, using this path of self-governance for products traded in the global economic arena? This will strongly depend on four key factors: rapid growth of consumer demand; 'all-inclusiveness' of these supply chain governance approaches; successful uplifting production practices of all suppliers; and addressing the major issues of unsustainability. Here we see various serious weaknesses, like the lack of third-order evaluation and biases causing some of the more recent issues to be overlooked and less visible supply chains. The challenge is to develop a form of 'meta'-governance, including new approaches by governments, combining public policy strategies with the demonstrated virtues of self-governance. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.