Rio+20: Supply Chain Management for Sustainable Development

SAI participates in UN Global Compact Sustainability Forum in Rio

June 2012

Businesses play a key role in fostering sustainable development, throughout their global supply chains. On June 16, SAI Senior Advisor Alan Spaulding spoke on the panel: "The Sustainable Supply Chain - Scaling Up Impacts of Sustainability Practice," to discuss this role, the impact of supply chain management decisions on sustainability, and how they relate to the Rio+20 agenda. This panel discussion was part of the larger United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum: Innovation and Collaboration for the Future We Want that took place June 15-18, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro. 

The forum offered an opportunity for over 2,000 participants - representing business, civil society, investors, governments, local authorities and UN entities - to strategize on how to scale up business' role in sustainable development. Social Development was one of the Forum's six core themes, the other five were: 1) Energy & Climate; 2) Water & Ecosystems; 3) Agriculture & Food; 4) Urbanization & Cities; 5) Economics & Finance of Sustainable Development.  

High-level principles and standards -- such as the UNGC's Ten Principles, and the SA8000® Standard for Decent Work - offer businesses a path toward leadership  in social responsibility and social compliance. However, putting principles in practice is a common challenge that companies face.  This was the focus of a 2010 set of six case studies that SAI co-authored with the UNGC and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE): From Principles to Practice: The Role of SA8000 in implementing the Global Compact. Beraca, a Brazilian company that also participated in the forum, was one of the six companies profiled in that publication.

SAI's work to help companies 'measure and improve' their capacity for sustainable supply chain practices and decent working conditions extends beyond SA8000 itself. Collaboration with other NGOs and UN agencies also help to strengthen business' contribution to sustainable development around the world. Below are four examples:   

•   UN Women Gender Equality Seal - developed by SAI and UN Women, this auditable standard and certification system will focus on gender equality in a company and its supply chain

•   Task Force on Human Rights - members of the UNGC Supply Chain Sustainability Advisory Group have joined forces to look at just two topics this year: Implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and Contract Labor in the Supply Chain

•   Handbook on UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights - in collaboration with the Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation (ICCO), SAI will publish a handbook and toolkit to help companies to operationalize the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (written by UN Special Representative John Ruggie and his team) in their supply chain by developing and implementing a management systems approach

•   Social Fingerprint®- in 2010, SAI developed this program based on ratings, classroom training, online training and toolkits designed to help companies understand, measure, and improve their social impact. Over 400 brands and companies have started using it, including Disney, Gap Inc., Carrefour, and Timberland 

This article was written by SAI Communications Intern Shirley Wu ( For inquiries, contact SAI Communication Manager Joleen Ong ( 

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