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May 21, 2020

Platform aimed at creating sustainable supply chains launched

A new platform has launched, aimed at helping companies create more sustainable supply chains and in turn assisting businesses and governments to save industries and jobs worldwide currently under threat from the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Hannah Abdulla

A new platform has launched, aimed at helping companies create more sustainable supply chains and in turn assisting businesses and governments to save industries and jobs worldwide currently under threat from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Sustainable Future Foundation (SFF) aims to drive economic development in the UK, US, and EU by advocating and supporting exemplary sustainable practices across the fashion, retail, finance, and technology sectors and advise on supply chain strategies to respond to the new world shaped by the global pandemic.

SFF’s focus is on mapping out how to achieve widespread implementation of “leading-edge sustainability” throughout global supply chains and, working in partnership with others, will drive large-scale transformation towards high-level sustainability and security.

“SFF was created as a response to the unfolding Covid-19 pandemic that has highlighted the need for broader change at many levels and the acute unpreparedness of the global economy to a major shock as well as shortfalls in the existing social and economic paradigms,” said co-founder and international fashion entrepreneur Masha Hanson.

Co-founder and digital transformation leader Asia Tumasian, added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has hit global trade and investment at an unprecedented speed and scale. Businesses of all sizes faced an initial supply shock, then a demand crisis as politicians locked down their populations at home to suppress the virus. Governments, businesses and consumers suddenly struggled to access even basic products and were forced to confront the fragility of the modern supply chain. The urgent need to design smarter, stronger and more diverse supply chains is been one of the main lessons of the crisis and is the rationale behind the launch of SFF.”

The platform will include experts on virology, epidemiology, viral, public health, and disaster response/management who are up to date with Covid-19 related issues, including the latest scientific research on potential treatments, vaccines and government health responses.

“As the post-Covid world transforms its demand and supply model naturally, there are positive environmental implications associated with this readjustment. Sustainability will no longer be just a trend or a lifestyle choice it will become an economic necessity. For that change to happen SFF calls for government support and clear solutions that could save thousands of jobs and reduce carbon footprint emission.

“For months prior to the Covid-19 crisis, trade tensions had been mounting due to the escalating tariff war between Washington and Beijing, and a broader populist streak running through several other capital cities. This rise in protectionism, coupled with concrete costs and new financial barriers, fuelled broader challenges and concerns for logistics networks operating on the global level.

“Today’s globalised supply chain network has been optimised to identify minimum lead times at the lowest possible price. However, rapid political developments, a shift towards consumers buying niche products and now, a global pandemic have revealed the weakness that lies at the heart of this model of manufacturing.”

As a result, the change that had already begun, towards more flexibility and multi-level sourcing, will accelerate tremendously, says SFF. Over the next years, SFF says we can expect to see a broad overhaul of supply chain infrastructure and a new order based on three key dimensions:

  • From globalisation to regionalisation: Logistics hubs will re-emerge at the regional level as the offshore labour cost differential has reduced. To eliminate single-source dependencies, and to establish a flexible and adaptable supply chain, product integrators, sub-system suppliers and component suppliers will source, assemble and deliver locally.
  • Stress testing the logistics: Since the 2008 financial meltdown, regulated financial institutions globally have been forced to stress test their balance sheets to assure preparedness for an economic shock. In addition, large-scale cyber-attacks in the past 10 years have forced technology companies to institute penetration tests to scrutinize their cyber-security mechanisms. In a post-Covid-19 world, supply chain stress tests will become a new norm. The distributed global business model, optimised for minimum cost, is finished. 
  • Manual steering and volume flexibility: The human dimension is back, and it will play a prime role in rebalancing the global supply chain during this crisis, and well beyond. We will need visibility for the people in the supply chain to be able to make complex decisions. 

“Covid-19 has revealed the weaknesses of a globalised manufacturing system and in order to respond, SFF believes we need to fundamentally rethink supply chains. Our goals in the medium term should be making them more regional, modifying the supply chain as a key business driver and putting back the human asset as the most important factor for an agile business to succeed.”

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