This year the annual Sedex AGM Conference had two underlying themes, the new UN Sustainabilty Development goals or SDGs and the human cost of both modern slavery and poorly educated supply chains. It's no longer good enough to claim we are too small to make a difference, we all have to stand up and be counted and we all have to ensure we look under the surface of our global purchasing.
An empowering address from Georg Kell of the UN Global Compact passed on a personal message from Ban Ki-Moon asking the business world to pick up the mantel of taking up the SDGs and pushing further to make global trade a level playing field as clearly commerce is one of the key activators in driving progression and change. He asked that we turned what was a threat to modern stability into an opportunity, to embrace transparency, and where the private sector continues to push further and further into the privatisation of the most basic public commodities such as water and air that the right decisions are made to ensure everyone has access.
There was a strong emphasis on the continued environmental impact our global trade is having and Dexter Galvin of the CDP was upbeat about the difference they were already making on sustainability of supply chains and, in particular, it was encouraging to hear the Diageo have benchmarked a 50% reduction on their Co2 emissions as a group by 2020, and that they were already well on the way. Not only were these issues proving to be essential for global survial it turns out that most of these environmental savings also resulted in major cost savings so once again, turing adversity into a business opportunity.
Finally the day for me was summed up by a hard hitting speech from Rani Hong, the President of the Troni Foundation ( #AdoptTheSeal) who told us her story of being stolen from her parents at the age of seven in southern India, being forced to work on a production line making bricks and when she was not longer of any use she was sold into the west as an orphan. Ultimately she was lucky as she found love, first from her adoptive family and finally from her husband, who also had been a victim of Human trafficking but I dread to think how many are not so lucky and it really opened our eyes to the cold hard facts that this sort of human trade is still all too prevalent.
Here at Thinktank with our friends and partners we will strive to continue to put these issues to the forefront of our work and if you want more information on how we safeguard our supply chains and always try to do more please get in touch.