As more than 1,200 business leaders and policy makers converge on Lima, Peru, for the annual Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC), an international forum created in 1989 to enable cooperation, economic growth, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, sustainable development is at the top of the agenda.
According to a recent McKinsey survey, many businesses are actively integrating sustainability principles into their businesses. Respondents to the McKinsey survey noted that their companies’ top reasons for addressing sustainability include improving operational efficiencies and lowering costs, enhancing corporate reputations, aligning with business goals, missions and values, and seeking new growth opportunities.
Focusing on economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection, the core elements of sustainable development are all interconnected and crucial for the well-being of individuals and societies. The very notion of sustainable development is broad and can include sustainable energy, sustainable infrastructure and sustainable supply chains.
From sourcing all the way on down the line to manufacturing, many producers are seeking to boost the connection between sustainable development and business development. Those looking to balance health and wellbeing while also protecting the planet face a broad range of concerns from social and legal issues, such as child labor, to environmental concerns, including illegal dumping and pollution.
Sustainability issues are often supply chain issues, according to a recent Harvard Business Review article. With a traditional emphasis on pressuring upstream suppliers to drive down costs, transactional supply chain relationships have lacked the trust to innovate together on solutions. UL and others are working to bridge those gaps through greater cooperation and supply chain transparency.
At the APEC conference, UL President Gitte Schjøtz will contribute her knowledge on sustainable supply chains during a panel entitled, “Pathways to Sustainable Development.” Panelists will participate in an active dialogue on the challenges confronting sustainable development, the choices we face and the possibilities open to us.
“The diversity and complexity of today’s global supply chains can challenge even the most well-intentioned companies,” notes Schjøtz. “UL believes that public-private partnerships are essential to enabling sustainable innovation by driving more sustainable supply chains through the greater availability of information. As an independent organization, we are often brought to the table to create frameworks that can be used as an industry standard.”
The 21 member countries of APEC, on the whole, are active participants in global supply chains, and home to a plethora of industries. From tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing through traceability solutions in Thailand to keeping waste out of landfills for Apple suppliers in China through the identification and classification of various waste streams, UL is helping to improve the sustainability of supply chains throughout the APEC nations.
Schjøtz will be joined on the panel by H.E. Peter O’Neill, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea; Wang Hongzhang, chairman of China Construction Bank; and Alfredo Rivera, chairman of The Coca-Cola Company’s Latin American operations.
Accomplishing APEC’s goal of common prosperity and truly sustainable growth is ambitious, yet attainable, with the wealth of knowledge and forward-thinking conversations planned for the APEC CEO Summit 2016.