Safeguarding supply chains

Safeguarding supply chains

Patricia Convey of the Rainforest Alliance explains the business value of sustainability and how it can safeguard supply chains for future generations.

‘Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.’ This is #13 of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a strategic global plan for tackling humanity’s greatest needs.

Yet achieving many of these targets relies on the business sector proactively investing in measures to tackle the most pressing economic, social, and environmental issues.

Such external investments can offer a high return for businesses; rather than waiting until supply chains have been severely impacted by erratic weather patterns, now is the best time to start developing a business plan that will be resilient to climate change.

Without investment to establish sustainable supply chains and implement responsible business decisions, it’s hard to say what state agricultural commodities and supplies will be in 10, 20, or 30 years from now.

The business sector’s potential positive economic, environmental, and social impacts have an astounding ability to resonate around the world, from more secure livelihoods for smallholder farmers in developing countries, to the potential for heightened brand relations at home.

Companies can attain significant value from sustainable sourcing through the potential of reducing risks and improving brand value, reputation, product quality, and reliability of supplies. Sourcing certified materials can also bring true business value through greater access to new supplies, markets and customers.

Since 1987, the Rainforest Alliance has been actively working to help the private sector realise the business value of sustainability. To date, 101 crop varieties are grown on 1.2 million Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms around the world. And production from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms accounts for 15.1% of the total world production of tea, 13.6% for cocoa, 5.6% for bananas, and 5.4% for coffee.

Here are four incentives for merging sustainability with business plans:


Strengthen supply chains’ resilience against climate change

Staying in business means looking towards the future, and a reliable supply chain is the foundation for a successful business.

And although climate change is a complex issue with far-reaching global implications, the bottom line for your business is that this scientific phenomenon often means lower yields for farmers.

From droughts to floods to pests, the countless impacts of climate change will keep placing supplies at risk.

In many developing nations, the agriculture sector is facing a state of emergency; it is essential for businesses whose interests sit within this sector to design realistic plans to help combat climate-change induced risks specifically related to their products.


Serve as a beacon for positive change within your sector

Your company can act as an industry leader by joining the growing movement for a more sustainable business world.

Truly resilient organisations continually strive to ensure their future success. Integrating sustainability into your business plans can transform your tactics into a model that competitors will want to emulate and measure their success by.

Of the Rainforest Alliance’s work, our president Nigel Sizer recently stated, ‘when we’re out there certifying agricultural and forest products, we are already well ahead of the SDGs.

Any company’s supply chain that is consistent with our standard goes above and beyond what’s being mandated by the SDGs.’


Foster an emotional connection with consumers

Consumers from Generations X, Y, and Z are increasingly making the choice to support companies who have aligned themselves with environmental and social responsibility.

These ‘conscious consumers’ want to feel that companies understand their overarching values and concerns, while also being proactive about solutions to global crises.

According to the branding and marketing agency BBMG, today’s consumers have a strong desire for responsible consumption, and increasingly believe that the right thing to do is the cool thing to do; this ‘creates new possibilities for brands, businesses, and the society that we share.’

Through showing customers that your business’s operations have a conscience, sustainability becomes an opportunity to enhance your relationship with current and new audiences.


Enrich your communications through certified offerings

The ability to share credible, fact-based claims about a product’s quality, production methods and origin should be a crucial part of many businesses’ external communications.

The Rainforest Alliance can provide traceability and transparency in the supply chain, two additional components critical for mitigating risks. We also regularly publish reports evaluating and highlighting impacts on the ground.

Today’s consumers are one of the most highly educated sectors in history, and are discerning when it comes to a brand’s quality and trustworthiness.

Opening up your communications channels to share information about sustainability commitments can enhance the depth and variety of the how, what, and why of your company’s engagement with the public.