Making Supply Chains Sustainable

A large part of global value creation takes place in integrated supply chains. Here, large companies determine the parameters of the production and action of their suppliers. The competitiveness of developing countries increasingly depends on their companies participating in supply chains. To achieve this, they have to meet ever higher requirements, including sustainability standards. Despite the increasing importance of global supply chains, many chains in developing countries, especially in the food sector, are still local and national; but here, too, demands regarding quality and efficiency are increasing.


For many international supply chains, firms and civil society partners have agreed on voluntary standards and codes of conduct. But the public sector can also influence the design of supply chains. It can mandate basic standards or exert gentle pressure through transparency rules, labelling, promotion of innovative practices, sustainable public procurement and other measures. It is important, however, to keep an eye on unintended consequences: higher standards create barriers to entry and can exclude the weakest market participants.


Supply chain research helps identify opportunities for companies in developing countries. It provides insights into the distribution of income between stages of the value chain. It provides information about dependency relationships, knowledge transfer, or environmental impacts. In this way, policy approaches can be identified that lead to better results for society as a whole. IDOS analyzes, inter alia, the following questions: How can supply chains in agriculture and industry be shaped to serve the interests of society? What is the potential of public procurement? How effective are voluntary sustainability standards and to what extent are they used in emerging countries? How can we move towards a circular economy?



Sustainable and inclusive supply chains in specific industries

Inclusive agricultural supply chains

Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) and Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs)

Greening supply chains and promoting circularity

Sustainable Public Procurement

Promoting Voluntary Sustainability Standards in partner countries

Other Projects