World’s first guide on traceability advances supply chain sustainability

Supply chain sustainability   

The United Nations Global Compact and BSR have released the first guide on traceability, which will help companies and consumers to ensure their material or product is produced responsibly.

Conflict-free minerals

Ensuring that minerals are sourced without conflict or human rights abuses is one example of what supply chain traceability can accomplish, thanks to the big push the UN Global Compact and BSR are making with their new guide on traceability for sustainability.

Supply chain traceability is increasingly becoming a key component in the business operations of palm oil, paper, minerals and diamonds, and select food commodities, said the United Nations Global Compact and BSR.

The two organisations recently launched the first worldwide guide on traceability, which aims to shed light on the importance of traceability in achieving sustainability while providing steps on how to conduct traceability programmes within companies’ corporate social responsibility efforts.

Called the A Guide to Traceability: A Practical Approach to Advance Sustainability in Global Supply Chains, it also presents lessons and real-life case studies on a wide range of products that are applicable across companies and industries around the world.

According to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), as cited by the guide, supply chain traceability is “the ability to identify and trace the history, distribution, location and application of products, parts and materials, to ensure the reliability of sustainability claims, in the areas of human rights, labour (including health and safety), the environment and anti-corruption”.

Firms are becoming more aware of the significance of traceability due to growing regulatory pressure and consumer demand for responsibly sourced and produced goods and services, said the UN Global Compact, the largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative in the world

Currently, only a small per cent of products can be traced based on sustainability, the organisation added. The 45-page guide, which culls over a year’s worth of research and interviews, noted that such traceability still has a long way to go become part of supply chain management and procurement practices.

Ursula Wynhoven, general counsel and chief of governance and social sustainability for the UN Global Compact, said: “With corporate supply chains growing in scale and complexity globally in recent decades, it is critical for companies to think beyond short-term financial considerations and build capacities to deliver long-term value along the entire supply chain.”

For example, the guide cited schemes that assessed whether minerals are not sourced from conditions of armed conflict, ensuring that it did not in any way finance such conflicts and that no human rights abuses resulted from purchasing these minerals.

“Only by tracing the origin of these materials in their supply chains can companies work to build conflict-free products,” said Michael Rohwer, program director of the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative, spearheaded by the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI). He added that strong traceability practices mean tracing the metals “all the way back to the mine”.

Similarly, traceability initiatives include certification programmes that check the sustainability of producing commodities like cocoa, nuts and coffee, since the cultivation of these crops have an impact on the environment, noted the two organisations in the report. They explained that monitoring how these agricultural items are produced could lead to reducing carbon footprint and preventing deforestation.

Aside from minerals (including diamonds) and cocoa, the guide also specifically discusses areas of collaboration and alignment for eight other commodities that are frequently linked to traceability for sustainability goals. These are beef, biofuel, cotton, fish, leather, palm oil, sugar and timber.

Recently, Procter and Gamble adopted a ‘no-deforestation’ policy concerning the use of palm oil in their consumer products after the continuous campaign of Greenpeace to protect forests and the rights of local communities. The manufacturer aims to ensure that its products are free from deforestation by 2020, while its palm oil supply should be traceable by 2015.

Wynhoven stressed: “Traceability systems offer an unprecedented opportunity for companies to improve transparency throughout the supply chain and fulfil their wider sustainability promises.”

“Customers want to know that the sustainability claim they see on a product is true. When done correctly, traceability is a powerful tool to provide re-assurance to customers that companies mean what they say,” explained Tara Norton, director for advisory services at BSR, a consultancy and network of more than 250 international firms engaged in sustainability and collaboration.

“In writing this guide, we aim to de-mystify traceability, to show companies clearly what it is all about, who the key players are, and how they can approach it,” she added.

Read More about BSR and  Guide to Traceability: A Practical Approach to Advance Sustainability in Global Supply Chains

Where is regional Australia in our Asian Century future?

By Jack Archer, Regional Australia Institute

A stocktake of research conducted into regional development in Australia shows that we are failing to do sufficient research on opportunities for sustainable growth and prosperity in regional Australia.

Anyone even remotely engaged in the public discussion of regional issues will know that we often get bogged down in the challenges faced by areas outside of our major cities. It is surprising then to learn this pre-occupation with regional problems in the media also extends deeply into the research that we do in Australia.

As one of its first initiatives, the Regional Australia Institute has conducted a comprehensive stocktake of research on regional development since 2000 which was launched last week in Wagga Wagga. The online database of regional research and data we compiled and the associated analysis of this work shows at best 10% of the research undertaken since 2000 is focused on opportunities for growth and development. There is also comparatively little work done to understand the inherent future potential of regions.

This research profile is in stark contrast to the projections for the future of the economy outlined in the recent Asian Century White Paper and the fact that it has been mining (an almost exclusively regional industry) that has driven our national economy in recent years. It also ignores the strong international evidence from the OECD that demonstrates the role that a diversity of regions have played in the growth story of the developed world for the last 15 years.

Importantly, this approach does not reflect policy makers and regional leaders interest and thirst for knowledge about potential and future opportunities which was expressed to us during consultation for the project.

So how do we fix this?

Firstly, we need to rebalance the diverse research already underway on regional issues to ensure we are recognising and exploring the upsides of change.

The stocktake suggested some high level priorities for structuring new research on regional opportunity:

  • The resource sector and regional areas – what are the best ways for policy-makers to help extend and maximise the benefits (and minimise costs and disruption) for localised and sustainable community advantage?
  • The Asian Century and Australia’s regional areas – what does regional Australia need to do to position itself to be benefit from the expansion of the Asian economic size and increasing demand?
  • The major transformative opportunities for regional Australia – what are the lessons and ideas that the current generation of policy-makers need to understand and consider to help enhance confidence to plan future major transformative initiatives?
  • The National Broadband Network and regional Australia – What are the specific ways of best leveraging off the NBN to maximise its economic and social value in regional Australia?
  • Enhancing the productivity of regional areas – what are the specific opportunities for regional Australia to pursue productivity-enhancing initiatives? Does the answer lie in “soft” or “hard” investments?
  • Learning from Australia’s history of achieved potential – what is the recent history of realised potential in regional Australia? What tools will best assist policymakers to replicate these successes in their own localities?

At the RAI we are thinking about work in each of these areas and how we can better define and understand ‘regional potential’ so that regions and governments can explore these issues in planning and policy making. We would encourage others establishing their research plans to also consider how their work can contribute to these priorities.

The key driver of change however will be the attitude and perspective we choose to adopt when thinking about regional Australia.

In looking to the future we can be confident that there will droughts, fires and floods; that exposure of regions to the vagaries of international markets will continue to drive rapid economic change; that our populations will age; and that our natural environments will remain at risk of decline and destruction.

But there will also be massive opportunities for regional Australia in the Asian Century – in resources, in agriculture and in services. These will be driven by the innate strength and innovation of regional businesses and communities. Associated with this will be new investment, new residents, new businesses and a better quality of life for people prepared to have a go in regional areas.

We certainly need to understand the challenges we face and how to respond to them, but we also need research that helps us to recognise and grasp these opportunities. We are by no means doing enough work on this at the moment.

The ConversationThe Regional Australia Institute (RAI) is an independent policy think tank and research organisation  for regional Australia. It was established in 2011 with the support of the Australian Government.

RAI is governed by Board of eminent Australians including distinguished academics Professor Sandra Harding (Vice-Chancellor of James Cook University) and Professor Ngiare Brown (University of Sydney). All of our research is overseen by a Research Advisory Committee comprised of leading national and international academics with expertise in regional development.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.  Read the original article.

Australia Regional Development Conference

The Australian Regional Development Conference will be in held in Albury NSW on the 15 – 16 October 2014, to find out more about this conference and compelling issues in Regional Development please visit the website.  

Would you like to present at the Regional Development Conference?

Would you like to present at the Regional Development Conference? If you have not yet submitted your abstract this is your last chance, the call for abstracts closes on Friday 30th May 2014.

Submissions must be entered online at website

Delegates and Presenters will engage on regional matters for Economic Development, Planning and Building, Environment and Sustainability and Community Development.

The conference theme is “Where to from Here?” will provide equal focus on economic and social outcomes for regional Australia. This important event will be held in Albury, 15-16 October, 2014.

The aim of the conference is to advance economic and social outcomes for regional Australia. The conference provides the opportunity to discuss the challenges, opportunities and future of regional Australia.

The Regional Development Conference streams for 2014 include the following;

  • Economic Development
  • Planning and Building
  • Environment and Sustainability
  • Community Development

RDA ConferenceTo submit your abstract online, please visit the conference website or for further information, please email [email protected]

Planning and Building Awards for Regional Innovation

Australian Regional Innovation Awards aim to recognise and showcase individuals and organisations that are achieving innovation in regional and rural Australia

Planning and Building Award for Regional Innovation

Who can apply

Representatives from all types of organisations active in regional development across Australia, including councils, shires, rural and regional organisations, NGO’s and government agencies that aim to better serve their communities.


The Award Presentation Ceremony is held in conjunction Regional Development Australia Conference Dinner on October 15th at the Commercial Club Albury.

Important Dates

Nominations open: Thursday 29th August 2013Nominations close: Tuesday 15th July 2014

Award Submission

Click here to submit a nomination, entries can only be accepted via the website.

The online entry:

  • requires you to provide a brief overall description of your project, for use in the Conference Proceedings and other promotional material
  • has a 300-word limit to each criterion
  • requires all selection criteria to be addressed as appropriate to the project; if a criterion is not relevant to the project state ‘not applicable’.

Note: applications and attachments will be printed in black and white only

Planning and Building Awards for Regional Innovation

Selection criteria

Entries for the awards should address the following selection criteria:

Innovation and/or best practice How does your project demonstrate innovation and/or best practice in the way your organisation does business or delivers services to your community?

Process and planning How did you determine what changes were required to improve your business practices and/or better meet your community’s needs (for example, consultation processes, needs analysis, etcetera)?

  • Benefits
  • What are the benefits of the project? Who benefits and how? Innovation
  • How does your project demonstrate innovation or deliver to community in terms of economic and social outcomes?

Community needs How are community needs met by this project

The judging process

Each Award will be judged by the Advisory Committee with judging based on the submitted entry form (entrants do not present). Judging will be based on the material provided by you, within the online entry form.

Meet one of the Judges

Tony McBurney, Director, Integrated Design Group

ARDC Committee-tony mcburneyTony established Integrated Design Group in 1999 after previous experience in both the public and private sectors, including his role as a Senior Architect at HPA / Mirvac and as an Associate at Stanton Dahl Architects.

Tony has a long-standing dedication to the community and housing design, with the goal of bringing the benefits of good architecture to ‘the common man’


There are sponsorship opportunities for these Awards, please refer to the Sponsorship Proposal or contact the Conference Secretariat.


RSA  two part logo large - word usePlanning and Building Awards for Regional Innovation More information

If you require more information about the Awards submission process and sponsorship please contact the Conference Secretariat.


Planning and Building Awards for Rural and Regional Innovation

Regional Innovation Awards 2014 Secretariat

Ph: (61 7) 5502 2068 Fax (61 7) 5527 3298

Email: [email protected]

We invite you to submit an abstract for the Australian Regional Development Conference

Call for Abstracts ends soon – we invite you to submit an abstract for the Australian Regional Development Conference which is being held in Albury, 15-16 October, 2014.

The theme of the conference is “Where to from Here?” will provide equal focus to the advancement of economic and social outcomes for regional Australia.

The aim of the conference is to advance economic and social outcomes for regional Australia. The conference provides the opportunity to discuss the challenges, opportunities and future of regional Australia.

The Australian Regional Development Conference streams for 2014 include the following; Submit an abstract on

  • Economic Development
  • Planning and Building
  • Environment and Sustainability
  • Community Development

submit an abstract on topical issues

  • Renewable energy and energy supply
  • Natural resource management including water management
  • Planning and Building with focus on small inland town, regional cities and coastal developments
  • Social and recreation developments – cultural, sporting, historic precincts and services
  • Economic development of major and smaller regional industries
  • Community Service Delivery with a focus on health, housing affordability/access and special attention to aged care services
  • Employment –  job creation, skilled migration and unemployment
  • Education and Training – regional universities and vocational training
  • Government – policy, funding and evaluation
  • Infrastructure and Transport stream – Road Freight, Rail, shipping and ports, regional airports/airlines, passengers services,
  • Digital – broadband technology

Important Dates

  • 30th May 2014 – Abstracts Close

RDA ConferenceTo submit your abstract online, please visit the conference website or for further information, please email [email protected]au