Harnessing Value Chains for the SDGs: How Far Have We Come, and What Next to Deepen Scale and Impact?


(Business Fights Poverty) #1

Tsitsi R Choruma: Senior Advisor on Gender, Fairtrade International
Penny Fowler: Head of Private Sector Team, Campaigns, Policy and Influencing, Oxfam GB
Alison Ward: Executive Director, Cotton Connect
John Morrison: Executive Director, Institute for Human Rights and Business
Quintin Lake: Director, Fifty Eight
Francis West: Head of Private Sector Policy and Advocacy, Unicef
Stuart Coupe: M&E Manager, Hand in Hand International
Businesses, by harnessing their value chains, can be powerful drivers of social, economic and environmental progress and, consequently, can play a critical role in achieving many of the draft SDGs, most notably: Goal 1: ending poverty, Goal 2 ending hunger, Goal 5: achieving women economic empowerment and gender equality, Goal 8: promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, Goal 12: ensuring sustainable production and consumption patterns, Goal 13: taking urgent actions to combat climate change and its impacts, and Goal 15: protecting terrestrial ecosystems.

A growing number of companies are actively integrating social, environmental and economic improvements in to core business operations and their value chains, working with certification schemes like Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance, and through sector and issue specific focused platforms and initiatives.

As the world starts to gear up to adopt and deliver the SDGs, this online discussion will draw on the perspectives of leading businesses, civil society organisations and development agencies, to take stock of where progress is being made to harness value chains for social, environmental and economic impact. Contributors will consider how to build on progress to deepen impact and increase scale, and identify key enablers and barriers for business including governance and regulatory environments, and how to strengthen them.

Key questions to be addressed are:

  1. Where has the most progress been made in harnessing value chains for social and environmental impact, and where do the challenges remain for companies looking to translate principles in to practice?
  2. What are we learning about the key enablers for business seeking to improve their ESG performance, including the role of good governance and regulatory environments?
  3. How can businesses and development partners collaborate more effectively to take ESG performance to the next level of scale and impact, including the reporting of impact?

Editor's Note:

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(Abdi Malik O. Ismail) #2

Capacity building should be given top priority. It is the old argument "Teach him /her how to fish to stop him/her await your hand-out" The only we can overcome poverty is when configure efforts to teach every young man & women how to earn bread.


(Janet Landey) #3

Starting Community Conversations on the SDG's with children as the agents of change (seen here in the Conceptual Eyes "Chatterboxes")



(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #4

Welcome to this live chat about harnessing value chains for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We're joined by a great panel to help us explore how far we have come, and what's needed to deepen scale and impact.

In terms of the format for this one hour live session, we will work our way through the three questions set out in the introduction above. Click reply under a question or comment to add your thoughts. And please do feel free to put your own questions to our panel by typing in the comments box above. (You'll need to sign in or sign up to do this).

You'll see a feed of comments in the right hand column of this page, with a notification of new messages appearing regularly at the top. Click refresh in our browser, or via the link in the introduction, to display all the new comments, in time order, below.

Before we begin, I'd like to ask each our our panellists to introduce themselves.


(Peter Mbiyu) #5

The potential for achieving #SDGs through value chains is enormous but requires a complete re-engineering of business models by most corporates. Businesses should stop looking at low income populations as vulnerable populations only capable of receiving CSR donations but as capable people who lack opportunity. As such, they should structure their business models to accommodate the poor as either producers or consumers. In some cases additional investments may be required but the paradigm shift is important to end poverty and hunger among other #SDGs. The impact potential for inclusive business models has been demonstrate through financial inclusion in Kenya.


(Stuart Coupe) #6

Hi Stuart Coupe here from Hand in Hand International, looking forward to the discussion and getting feedback on the challenges raised in my colleague Graham Stegmann's blog


(Francis West) #7

Thanks Zahid. This is Francis West at Unicef UK. I'm our Head of Private Sector Policy & Advocacy. My work focuses on supporting companies to implement the Children's Rights & Business Principles, which bring a child's lens to the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights. Looking forward to this.

Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Welcome to this live chat about harnessing value chains for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We're joined by a great panel to help us explore how far we have come, and what's needed to deepen scale and impact.

In terms of the format for this one hour live session, we will work our way through the three questions set out in the introduction above. Click reply under a question or comment to add your thoughts. And please do feel free to put your own questions to our panel by typing in the comments box above. (You'll need to sign in or sign up to do this).

You'll see a feed of comments in the right hand column of this page, with a notification of new messages appearing regularly at the top. Click refresh in our browser, or via the link in the introduction, to display all the new comments, in time order, below.

Before we begin, I'd like to ask each our our panellists to introduce themselves.


(Abdi Malik O. Ismail) #8

What lesson were learned from the Millennium Development?


(Penny Fowler) #9

Hello, Penny Fowler here from Oxfam GB's Private Sector Team. Looking forward to today's discussion.


(Tsitsi Rosemary Choruma) #10

My name is Tsitsi Choruma, The Senior Gender Advisor for Fairtrade International. Past experience icludes working with International Organisations that include, World Vision, Action Aid InterNational, Oxfam, Progressio. A proponent of gender, and believer of women's potential. I also believe if all sectors, Pvt, Government and CSOs can work together, more effective solustions can be found.



Tsitsi Rosemary Choruma said:



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Welcome to this live chat about harnessing value chains for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We're joined by a great panel to help us explore how far we have come, and what's needed to deepen scale and impact.

In terms of the format for this one hour live session, we will work our way through the three questions set out in the introduction above. Click reply under a question or comment to add your thoughts. And please do feel free to put your own questions to our panel by typing in the comments box above. (You'll need to sign in or sign up to do this).

You'll see a feed of comments in the right hand column of this page, with a notification of new messages appearing regularly at the top. Click refresh in our browser, or via the link in the introduction, to display all the new comments, in time order, below.

Before we begin, I'd like to ask each our our panellists to introduce themselves.


(Alison Ward) #11

Hi

It's Alison Ward here from CottonConnect - looking forward to joining the discussion today.

Just in Delhi with my team where we have been talking about how we encourage more brands and retailers to engage with cotton communities here in India.

Alison


(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #12

Let's start with the first question:

Question 1: Where has the most progress been made in harnessing value chains for social and environmental impact, and where do the challenges remain for companies looking to translate principles in to practice?


(Abdi Malik O. Ismail) #13

Hello everybody -Abdi Ismail From ISTAG cic - Invest Somali Social Enterprise. Please seem y above question!!


(Quintin Lake) #14

Hi, Quintin Lake here from Fifty Eight - working with companies to address modern slavery challenges in their value chains. Really looking forward to our discussion today.


(Francis West) #15

I think there has been great progress in the sense that there is now an emerging consensus amongst businesses that they have a responsibility for their impacts across not just immediate operations, but their business relationships. Recent research from the Economist makes it clear that most businesses (83%) accept that they have responsibilities for human rights alongside governments. Human rights impacts are seen predominantly- but not exclusively- in the value chain in geographies where protections for the rights of individuals, particularly children, are often weak.

We also have an accepted framework for managing these impacts- the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights- and particularly the concept of human rights due diligence, whereby businesses need to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their impacts on human rights, particularly with respect to vulnerable groups such as children. It’s true that the practical implementation of these Principles has proven challenging, but with Unilever releasing its first Human Rights report this month, there is clearly movement.


Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's start with the first question:

Question 1: Where has the most progress been made in harnessing value chains for social and environmental impact, and where do the challenges remain for companies looking to translate principles in to practice?


(Alison Ward) #16

Giving a perspective on the garment sector good progress has been made at a factory level, with reduced water use, less and better chemical management and more attention on workers rights. More to do!

But the cotton sector has many challenges - a fragmented supply chain, with many brands relying on Tier One suppliers to undertake sourcing on their behalf, due to the complex nature of transactions.

Greater transparency from farm to garment is needed in order to connect brands and manufacturers to the beginning of the supply chain. We are beginning to see a step change here, with brands increasingly establishing sourcing teams in India and China and with some developing vertically integrated supply chains.


(John Morrison) #17

Hello everyone. On Zahid's first question - I think the most progress has been made in supply chains where commodities are traceable or revenues can be made transparent (e.g. oil, gas, diamonds, conflict minerals etc). Similar, progress has been made where labour can be contextualised within international standards (e.g. ILO Better Work etc.).

But the remaining challenges are many. Not least the fact that for some products - such as Ready Made Garments - price remains the overwhelming concern and this affect's labour conditions. There are two fundamental challenges in my view: (i) to move away from audit-led approaches to the supply chain to those focusing on impact and (ii) to involve the wider value chain, including investors and eventually consumers themselves. At the moment there are just not enough incentives and disincentives for action in most value chains.


Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's start with the first question:

Question 1: Where has the most progress been made in harnessing value chains for social and environmental impact, and where do the challenges remain for companies looking to translate principles in to practice?


(Francis West) #18

Yes, I agree. There is a challenge in terms of the transition from a traditional process for determining corporate sustainability priorities (considering the impact on an amorphous group of ‘stakeholders’ combined with ‘materiality’ or business relevance) towards the concept of salience as defined by the UN Reporting Framework on Human Rights. The former means that some impacts on people may be ignored if they don’t have an effect on the performance of the business. This latter would urge prioritisation of issues on the basis of the company’s most severe potential negative impact on individuals, families and children.



John Morrison said:

Hello everyone. On Zahid's first question - I think the most progress has been made in supply chains where commodities are traceable or revenues can be made transparent (e.g. oil, gas, diamonds, conflict minerals etc). Similar, progress has been made where labour can be contextualised within international standards (e.g. ILO Better Work etc.).

But the remaining challenges are many. Not least the fact that for some products - such as Ready Made Garments - price remains the overwhelming concern and this affect's labour conditions. There are two fundamental challenges in my view: (i) to move away from audit-led approaches to the supply chain to those focusing on impact and (ii) to involve the wider value chain, including investors and eventually consumers themselves. At the moment there are just not enough incentives and disincentives for action in most value chains.


Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's start with the first question:

Question 1: Where has the most progress been made in harnessing value chains for social and environmental impact, and where do the challenges remain for companies looking to translate principles in to practice?


(Stuart Coupe) #19

NGOs have come an extremely long way in market systems approaches in the last few years, understanding the processes of facilitation rather than prevailing upon beneficiaries to produce something and then thinking about how to market it. Millions of people, a majority of them women, have been successfully re-orientated towards enterprise development and creating jobs for themselves and others in a world where formal sector employment opportunities are diminishing. Companies have been willing to enter in to dialogues where bottleneck in supply chains are identified.


(Francis West) #20

Where companies have undertaken impact assessments, this has helped focus where value chains and expertise can be harnessed for positive impact. If a company integrates the voices of the most vulnerable into its human rights impact assessments, it will be better placed to determine where to focus its efforts to positively support the delivery of the SDGs. This is clear from the experience of the telecoms company Millicom. After conducting a child rights impact assessment across its supply chain with Unicef, Millicom supported the creation of a new SMS service in Tanzania that allows parents to register new births as well as those of children under five on any mobile phone, straight to a centrally-run database. Birth registration- the subject of another SDG target- rose from nine per cent to 40 per cent in the pilot region of Mbeya in six months.

This isn't an easy process however. There is a challenge in that determining the impacts of a business (and therefore the opportunities to best support desirable social outcomes) requires consultation with stakeholders that are potentially or actually affected by a company’s operations and supply chain, particularly vulnerable groups, rather than with those organisations that have best managed to grab the company’s attention. Impacts on individuals take place in specific geographic locations at specific times and while it might be easier to undertake stakeholder consultation with NGOs HQ’d in London, businesses really need to get as close as possible to the voices of those at the sharp end of impacts in the value chain.

For Unicef UK, that means bringing the voices of children into the due diligence process so that a company can understand how they affect their lives beyond the traditional focus on child labour (which remains a grave issue with 168 million child labourers worldwide). Children are important stakeholders for business - as consumers, family members of employees, young workers, and as future employees and business leaders- but are rarely treated as such. Almost every business activity can leave a footprint on children’s lives - whether through employment conditions of parents, product safety, marketing practices or environmental impact.


Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's start with the first question:

Question 1: Where has the most progress been made in harnessing value chains for social and environmental impact, and where do the challenges remain for companies looking to translate principles in to practice?