As part of the sustainability efforts of the G7 German Presidency, I was honoured to represent the CGF and GSCP, providing the perspective of our industry at the recent Meeting of the G7 Employment and Development Ministers organised by Ms. Nahles, Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs and Mr. Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.
This gathering brought together national ministers, international organisations and social partners to adopt the Declaration “Action for Fair Production.
” The declaration crystallises the issue of Responsible Supply Chains which has been central to Germany’s G7 presidency, and outlines key objectives, goals and the way forward around these political ambitions.
Through such a roadmap, Germany is currently leading the way on improving the application of labour, social and environmental standards in global supply chains, with a focus on six areas of commitment:
- promoting a level playing field for small and medium-sized enterprises and mainstream a joint understanding of corporate due diligence,
- providing consumer information to help them in making more informed purchasing decisions,
- promoting multi-stakeholder initiatives to join forces for responsible supply chains,
- support for developing countries in meeting sustainability requirements,
- setting-up the Vision Zero Fund, to invest in preventive actions for health and safety,
- and strengthening OECD National Contact Points.
The CGF’s participation in such high-level political discussions allows to anchor our role as partner for sustainable change. Decent working conditions, environmental stewardship, and harmonisation of sustainability standards as objectives of the G7 German Presidency find a natural echo in what the consumer goods industry is already committed to, notably through the Global Social Compliance Programme.
In fact, such constructive discussions are shining light on these long-term efforts by companies in the consumer goods industry and will no doubt allow us to take them further together. My talk focused on three areas: engaging the consumer, thinking cross-sectorally and keeping the momentum.
Engage the consumer
One component that will be vital to the success of these efforts is that of addressing consumer awareness as an integral part to any efficient progress plan. Today consumers are not always aware of the complexities of the supply chain, nor are they conscious of what companies are already doing to implement sustainable change. Consumer support and understanding are vital to the remediation of social and environmental challenges in our societies.
We also see a need for the G7 efforts to take the focus from textile across to other sectors. At the Consumer Goods Forum, we are calling for a wider approach to sustainability – one covering consumer goods at large. Our member companies are cross-sectoral and global, and are working to raise the bar transversally. A more global “sustainable retail” scope would allow us to cover multiple sectors and ensure sustainable development on a larger scale.
Keep the momentum
Looking around the room at this meeting where representatives from the G7 countries, the ILO, the World Bank, OECD and so many more high-level organisations were present, one can only commend the G7 on gathering these leaders and creating this momentum for sustainable and responsible change. However, we now need to keep this movement alive without multiplying stakeholder initiatives, and ensure the bridge with other key fora and notably the future G20.
Photo: Didier Bergeret speaking with Mr Müller, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Cristina Tébar Less, OECD, Head of Unit/Responsible Business Conduct