Commentary: Managing risk in the global supply chain

The World Economic Forum defines global risk as an uncertain event that, if it occurs, can cause significant negative impact for several countries or industries within the next 10 years.
Global supply chains create both opportunity and risk. Some of the macro issues we face both in day-to-day operations and future planning include cybersecurity, terrorism, climate change, economic instability, and political discord.
More specific to executives who manage global supply chains, risk is more apparent, and on a micro-basis potentially more consequential in the short term, in areas such as but not limited to reducing spend, leveraging sourcing options, creating sustainability, political and currency instability, government regulations in the U.S. and abroad, trade compliance management, free trade agreements, energy costs, and what the incoming Trump administration will mean for global trade.
Since the recession in 2008-2009, we have witnessed a serious uptick in companies worldwide reviewing their operational exposure and then creating risk strategies in managing these vulnerabilities. Risk exposure can negatively impact margin, profits, growth strategies, operational stability and personnel maintenance.
For companies operating in global supply chains the risks are vast, convoluted and often unanticipated. As a result, we tend to be unprepared for the impacts.

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How to Better Manage Supply Chain Climate Risks

Supply chains are responsible for up to four times the greenhouse gas emissions of a company’s direct operations and yet half of major companies’ key suppliers don’t provide requested climate data to their corporate customers, according to a study produced by CDP and written in partnership with BSR.

The report also gives examples of ways companies can encourage supplier performance. It says L’Oréal works with CDP to create supplier climate scorecards that can be easily understood in the purchasing department.

Additionally, Coca-Cola and Lego Group are both experimenting with incentives and training for suppliers that aim to improve climate performance. Coca-Cola, for example, encourages suppliers to implement sustainable agricultural practices, reduce material used in packaging, and reduce the carbon footprint of vending machines. Lego Group LEGO Group is hosting “innovation camps” that the report says not only identify projects to reduce CO2 emissions, they also strengthen partnerships with suppliers.

Read more at How to Better Manage Supply Chain Climate Risks

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3 ways companies can identify climate risks in supply chains

3 ways companies can identify climate risks in supply chains

Despite the enormous value at stake, climate risks in supply chains can be hard to see because they are so large. The key to getting it right, according to Acclimatise CEO John Firth, who spoke at the BSR Spring Forum last week, is for managers to address supply chain climate risks in terms of existing stressors — such as procurement costs, on-time delivery, water availability and secure energy and infrastructure.
At the Forum, speakers and participants identified three lenses that can help company managers connect climate change to existing supply chain concerns.

Vulnerable regions

The economic costs of climate-related disasters are rising, in large part because business is consolidating in vulnerable regions in the name of market growth and efficiency. It is projected that by 2070, seven of the 10 largest economic hubs will be in the developing world, and assets exposed to floods will rise from 5 percent to 9 percent of global GDP.

Categories at risk

Sustainability professionals also can address climate risk through global supply or procurement categories that are dependent on stable climatic conditions, such as crops, capital-intensive infrastructure and water-intensive operations.

Sustainability destabilizers

Finally, climate change undermines companies’ ability to address material sustainability issues. Many companies are working to improve economic development in the communities in which they operate, yet climate impacts, especially disasters, can depress job markets for years. Or, while it is typical for companies to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the lower water runoff associated with droughts can reduce the capacity of hydropower, the most mature source of renewable power

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