Research Network Sustainable Global Supply Chains, Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Global Supply Chains (GSCs) have become a key feature of globalisation. Production processes are increasingly broken down into specific tasks and organised across national borders. They are organised and governed by “lead firms” that set many of the standards according to which other firms in the chain operate. About half of all global trade is nowadays organised in GSCs. The organisational structure of GSCs has an enormous influence on whether the global community reaches the Sustainable Development Goals. GSCs have enabled developing countries to access international markets and thereby increase people’s incomes, but the types of new employment created do not always meet international standards of decent work. Likewise, global firms often introduce new technologies and better environmental practices to local firms, but their integration in GSCs also triggers additional resource extraction and boosts transport-related greenhouse gas emissions. Put simply: While GSCs provide new opportunities to firms and countries, GSC integration does not automatically translate into sustainable development in its economic, social and environmental dimensions.