2018 AI Sustainability Conference - the Full Report

Supply chain and CSR professionals gathered in Hong Kong to discuss the latest challenges and opportunities in sustainable sourcing and supply chain ethics. Get the full transcript of the conference and join the discussion!

In the two conference sessions, compliance and environmental experts from leading global brands and NGOs explored multiple facets of ethical sourcing and environmental sustainability, with in-depth Q&A at the end of each session.

Feel free to use the session guide below to explore our star speakers’ presentations, with video footage and downloadable slides available

Session 1: Critical human rights issues in global supply chains: modern slavery, human trafficking, gender inequality

  1. Sustainability and Ethics in Supply Chains: Current State and Progress (Michael Bland, AsiaInspection)
    Setting the stage of the first session of the AI Sustainability Conference, Michael Bland presented an overview of the current state of sustainability and ethics in global supply chains, highlighting issues specific to individual countries and industries.
  2. Lessons for Brands Looking to Eliminate Forced Labor from Their Supply Chains (Aditi Wanchoo, Adidas)
    As the leader of the Modern Slavery Outreach Program implemented by the major sporting brand Adidas, Aditi Wanchoo shared the brand’s experience mitigating modern slavery risks at multiple tiers of a supply chain.
  3. The Importance of Worker Voice in Managing Migrant Labor Modern Slavery Risks (Joyce Fong, Pentland Brands; Anders Lisborg, Ohmar Ei Ei Chaw, the Issara Institute)
    Joyce Fong of Pentland Brands, together with Anders Lisborg and Ohmar Ei Ei Chaw of the NGO Issara Institute, emphasized the importance of making worker voice heard cross complex supply chains, and shared practical examples of fostering worker empowerment and ethical recruitment practices.
  4. Leveraging Technology to Fight Modern Slavery in Supply Chains (Dr. Zoe Fortune, The Mekong Club)
    The Mekong Club is an NGO that aims to harness the skills of the private sector to combat human trafficking. Dr. Zoe Fortune outlined the main advantages and opportunities offered by modern digital technologies in the ongoing fight against modern slavery, highlighting the numerous tools that brands can use to investigate their supply chains.
  5. Working Towards Gender Equality in Global Supply Chains (Marat Yu, BSR)
    Marat Yu shared some key insights on gender equality and women’s rights from his work with HERProject, a collaborative initiative that strives to empower low-income women working in global supply chains.

Session 1 Q&A:

  • Clearing up supply chains: what are the biggest obstacles?
  • Migrant labor risks: the increased challenges of dealing with irregular migration
  • Impact of macro factors on modern slavery risks: geopolitical tensions and climate change
  • Advancing gender equality in supply chains: case studies from HERProject
  • Data sharing and transparency in cross-sector collaboration: what are brands doing, and what is the impact?

Session 2: Environmental compliance and chemical management in China: a focus on compliance efforts of local and western businesses

  1. Best Practices for Establishing Your Brand as a Recognized Sustainability Leader (Wander Meijer, Globescan)
    Building on 20+ years of data collected by the strategy and insights consultancy Globescan, Wander Meijer shared practical insights to help brands better communicate their sustainability efforts to the consumer and become recognized sustainability leaders.
  2. How Will China’s New Environmental Protection Tax Affect Your Sourcing? (Brian Ho, EY)
    China’s changing environmental regulations continue presenting challenges to business. Brian Ho of EY, a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services, provided valuable insights for businesses on navigating the latest Environmental Protection Tax Law (effective January 2018).
  3. The Power of Information Disclosure in Greening China’s Supply Chain (Bai Hui, IPE)
    Bai Hui of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, China, gave an overview of the groundbreaking work the NGO has carried out since 2006 to increase transparency around environmental issues in China, and the resulting impact on the management of environmental compliance in global supply chains.
  4. Sustainability and Chemical Management – Practical Insights from Fristads Kansas (Caroline Bouisset, Fristads Kansas)
    Speaking as the sustainability and CSR officer for Fristads Kansas, a major workwear and servicewear manufacturer, Caroline Bouisset shared her group’s practical experience of implementing a sustainability and chemical management program throughout a global supply chain spanning hundreds of suppliers.
  5. Key Compliance Considerations for Brands Sourcing from Small Factories in China (Charles Coletta, Fourstar Group)
    Based on 15 years of experience of directly working with over 1,000 Chinese factories, Charles Coletta, SVP QA & Compliance for a major trading company Fourstar Group, provided an overview of the key challenges a brand or buyer may face when sourcing from small factories in China, and strategies to overcome them.

Session 2 Q&A:

  • Environmental vs. ethical compliance: can the costs associated with environmental protection taxes result in increased labor risks on the supplier side, e.g. exploitation, unpaid overtime, etc.? How to ensure that environmental protection measures are not carried out at the cost of worker safety?
  • Burden of regulation in sourcing: is there a risk of over-regulation, particularly for smaller businesses?
  • Formalizing chemical management: how important are formal Restricted Substance Lists? Should it be sufficient to give the supplier instructions to abide by a specific regulation (e.g. REACH)?
  • Keeping up with regulatory updates: pros and cons of in-house knowledge management and 3rd party consultations.
  • Merging the CSR and QA functions: is it always possible, desirable, or effective?
  • The main driving force behind compliance requirements: consumers, brands, governments, NGOs, or investors?

Download the Full Conference Presentation