Leading the SSCI’s development and activities
The Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI) Steering Committee is co-chaired by Jessica Meisinger, Global Sustainability Lead, MSD Animal Health, and Elles de Jonge, Manager Quality and Sustainability, European Marketing Distribution (EMD).
The Steering Committee, consisting of 23 CGF members, has the mission of shaping the SSCI’s strategy and driving its development. It oversees the actions of the SSCI’s Technical Working Groups, provides the final recognition of SSCI Benchmark applicants, and acts as a champion for the SSCI’s vision in their own companies to meet the SSCI’s overarching objective of driving meaningful change.
Currently, there are 23 members of the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative.
The Steering Committee also ensures alignment and support among the wider CGF by working together with other CGF Coalitions, including the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Notably, in coordinating with the GFSI, it also helps ensure a streamlined approach to benchmarking across the CGF. While the SSCI helps to set the baseline for credible and robust third-party standards, it is mainly a tool in organisations’ supply chain management strategies and not a new sustainability standard. As a result, the SSCI supports the work of the CGF’s other sustainability-focused Coalitions to help ensure these Coalitions’ strategies understand our industry’s expectations for sustainability standards.
The SSCI works closely with the CGF’s Human Rights Coalition (HRC) to ensure the social compliance standards included in the SSCI criteria are well aligned within the HRC strategy. One of the main priorities of the HRC is to set up and develop human rights due diligence (HRDD) systems, initially in HRC members’ Own Operations and among their palm oil supply chains, that are designed to identify and address forced labour issues. These HRDD systems will help ensure a human rights policy is in place, a gender lens/policy is integrated, and risk assessments, mitigation strategies, grievance mechanisms, and public reporting requirements are included. The SSCI supports this work by providing alignment and insights on the industry’s expectations for social sustainability standards in managing their auditing, monitoring and certification programmes. Social concerns such as responsible recruitment, labour fees, and freedom of movement, on which the CGF has been raising awareness for many years, are incorporated into elements of the SSCI Benchmark Criteria.
In addition, with the goal to develop an environmental compliance benchmark, the SSCI is also aware that ensuring supply chain sustainability is not limited to social compliance. As a result, we are working closely with the CGF Forest Positive Coalition to ensure that the SSCI Benchmark Criteria will be informed of and tailored to relevant issues and current dynamics within efforts to end commodity-driven deforestation and develop forest positive supply chains. We also will collaborate with the CGF Plastic Waste Coalition to similarly incorporate the specific concerns related to plastic production, use and management, as well as anti-pollution efforts.
All of these cross-Coalition efforts aim to ensure a good synergy across the CGF and within the overall sustainability agendas and priorities of CGF member companies.
Under the strategic guidance of the SSCI Steering Committee, the SSCI Technical Working Groups (TWGs) collaborate to develop the benchmark criteria for each SSCI scope. The TWGs consist of SSCI members, other CGF members who are not members of the SSCI, and external expert stakeholders.
An original TWG was developed to create the SSCI Social and Scheme Management Criteria which now serves as the benchmarking requirement for the Manufacturing and Processing Scope. Technical Working Groups were also set up to adopt the Social and Scheme Management Criteria for the At-Sea Operations and Primary Production scope, the latter which was also supported by the Expert Panel on Aquaculture. Both the At-Sea Operations TWG and the Expert Panel on Aquaculture are supported by the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SSCI).
In 2022, the SSCI launched an Environmental Working Group to develop benchmark criteria that can apply to environmental sustainability standards and expand the SSCI Benchmark’s scope from social to environmental sustainability. The members of the EWG are Land O’Lakes, Merck Animal Health, and Naturipe Farms, in addition to the Working Group chair, the International Fresh Produce Association. Interested members and stakeholders who would like to become involved with the EWG can reach out to the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI) team.
The SSCI works with Benchmark Leaders who are independent experts in social sustainability and compliance, labour and human rights, auditing principles, management systems, and other relevant areas. SSCI Benchmark Leaders carry out the SSCI Benchmarking Process and work with the applicant scheme owners under the supervision of the SSCI Team. They provide independent insights and make recommendations to the SSCI Coalition, which ultimately provides final recognition for schemes undergoing benchmarking.