Integrating sustainability in the value chain of SMEs’ corporate social responsibility

hands holding a tree and coins / making the right choice

In light of globalisation and the trend toward decreasing state regulatory capacity, businesses are under more pressure than ever to assume their responsibilities throughout the supply chain. Recent political initiatives including the pledge on the part of the G-7 heads of state and government on corporate responsibility in supply chains as well as the implementation into national law of EU guidelines on non-financial reporting by the end of 2016 underscore the topic’s importance – not only for large but also for medium-sized businesses.    

How can businesses take on the task of sustainable supply chain management? What established approaches have they been using to orient themselves in the task, and how might they go beyond them? Answering these questions is the key concern of the research project “Corporate Social Responsibility in the Value Chain”, commissioned by the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) and the German Environment Agency’s (UBA).  It is especially taking into account the practices and particular opportunities for and restrictions posed to small and medium-sized businesses.

adelphi has taken on the project leadership and is working on the project together with the Hochschule für nachhaltige Entwicklung Eberswalde, oekom research and attorney-at-law Prof. Dr. Remo Klinger to prepare a guide that will provide businesses with practical advice on how to sustainably manage their supply chains.

The project team is using case studies to seek best practice examples that show how pioneering businesses from different sectors and with varied specialisations fulfil their responsibilities in supply chain management. The project team is additionally integrating representatives from businesses, civil society organisations, academia, professional associations, and state institutions into the development of the guide through guided interviews and expert dialogues.   

The project team is also investigating how the state can best support German businesses in sustainable supply chain management through the design and development of political frameworks.