SDG and Sustainable Supply Chains in the post-global economy

International Symposium jointly organized by The Centre for Research into Sustainability (CRIS) at Royal Holloway University of London, University of Twente & Greening of Industry Network (GIN) in Egham, Surrey, Great Britain May 27, 2017







In September of 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030.  Industry and its networks will be critical partners in helping to achieve these goals. Against this background the Greening of Industry Network (GIN) is presenting this symposium.  It will thrive on trans-disciplinarity that encompasses multiple fields of knowledge and stakeholders in understanding and building knowledge on environmental and social sustainability.

Building sustainable supply chains are one of the major ways to contribute to SDGs. Particularly pertinent is SDG 12 which states “Responsible consumption and production”. The supply chain represents the distribution across the life cycle stages of goods and materials produced and consumed. It is a major dimension on how firms’ organizations can improve sustainability performance. In the last decades, as the world economy became more international and more globalized, the growth of cross-border supply chains and transnational production/consumption systems contributed to integrate economies, created political interdependencies and facilitated collaboration between multiple stakeholders- including governments, civil society, communities, and educational institutions in addition to industry- towards common goals in sustainability. 

However, the impacts on supply chains of political shifts such as Brexit and the new US administration policies are yet to be conceptualized. On the one hand, political changes may be seen as opportunities for new supply chain partnerships. On the other hand, they might be heralding a period of deceleration in deeper global economic integration, a drastic geopolitical shift that some fear may result in a post-global economy, with more isolationism, less collaboration and more trade and FDI restrictions. If so, it may hurt efforts towards a global circular economy, which are key to SDGs.

Our understanding of how sustainable supply chains can contribute to Sustainable Development (SD), or how and to what extent geopolitical shifts may affect sustainability in supply chains and the circular economy is limited because research on sustainability in supply chains is challenging and still in early stages of development. Research in sustainability in Supply Chains is challenging, because Sustainability in supply chains includes many dimensions that may be separable, but are definitely systemic.  That is, although studies in these spaces can be considered from a very specific lens for research and investigation, the interactions should always be recognized to fully appreciate the complexities needed to address sustainability in supply chains issues.  Knowledge from various disciplines can help to advance theory and practice on sustainable supply chains.