Over 300 participants joined in the15th European Round Table on Sustainable Consumption and Production (ERSCP), – resulting in a lively discussion in plenary sessions, as reflection on some interesting plenary speeches from representatives from government, industry and research organisations. This year's ERSCP took place from 2 to 4 May in Bregenz (Austria): the four-country-corner around Lake Constance (Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) is one of the most prosperous and dynamic regions in Europe – in economic growth as well as in sustainable development and quality of life. For SWITCH-Asia projects especially the focused sessions on ‘building’ could be of interest – insight in new developments and good practices partially also applicable in Asia. But also sessions on ‘tourism’, ‘energy’ and ‘consumption and lifestyles’ contain interesting angles for Asia.
The ERSCP 2012 placed special emphasis on intense and vivacious dialogue between research and business. The motto “SCP meets industry” demonstrated this approach; shown by the fact that 8 leading companies located in the region sponsored and participated in the conference. SWITCH-Asia was responsible for chairing one of those sessions – on ‘Bridging Asia and Europe with Sustainable Supply Chains’.
After a short introduction by Frans Verspeek of the Network Facility – that triggered again some organisations to perhaps become member of our SWITCH-Asia family – 3 examples were presented how in SWITCH-Asia projects efforts are made to green supply chains; mainly via actions on the ground in Asia, but with specific links also to European companies. WWF-representatives – resp. Bella Roscher and Peter Sawyer – presented their projects on Sustainable Rattan Industry and Sustainable Wood Processing and Trade, and Alena Labodova from the Technical University of Ostrava shared her experience how in the Creating Greenphilippines Islands of Sustainability project supply chains are used to enlarge the impact of working directly with SMEs, and channelling the message across the chain.
Input by SWITCH-Asia project experts:
In a relatively small but lively discussion afterwards the lessons learnt were addressed and especially the challenges debated – European participants shared their experiences how difficult it is for companies to really try to engage on a large scale (when having hundreds of heterogeneous suppliers) or deeper (trying to go also into 2nd tier and further) their supply chains in different countries. Examples were shared on strategies, communication mechanisms, and harmonisation via code of conducts or even strict standards and labels. No silver bullit is existing and each supply chain has its own characteristics, but at the same time more experiences should be shared on strategies. The SWITCH-Asia Network Facility tries to facilitate this, via its studies on upscaling mechanisms, a.o. on engaging actors of the supply chains (see below).
The session clearly illustrated that in our globalised world – with strong interconnectedness - concerted actions are needed with partners from both regions – one of the characteristics also from the SWITCH-Asia Programme.
The upscaling study examines the role that engaging the supply chain is playing and potentially can play in enhancing the ability of SWITCH-Asia projects to achieve their goals of promoting uptake of sustainable consumption and production in Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs).