How to scale up efforts for fair trade and sustainable value chains


Beyond an increasing number of partnerships and collaboration initiatives, many challenges to foster sustainability in trade and value chains still remain.


CSR Europe recently organised a meeting in cooperation with the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the opportunities and challenges of integrating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ‘fair’ considerations in trade and value chains.


Efforts are evidently being extended worldwide. Corporations, European and International business networks, NGOs, representatives from the Member States and European policymakers shared insights of their most recent projects, initiatives and strategies, including Chemie3, Drive SustainabilityEuropean Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials, Global Battery Alliance, Just Gold, Responsible Supply Chain in Asia, Sustainable Business for Africa Platform (SB4A), Together for Sustainability and World Diamond Council.


"Participants showed a clear interest in widening and deepening their current efforts to foster sustainability in trade and value chains," explains Jan Noterdaeme, who was moderating the discussion on behalf of CSR Europe. "Despite practical examples of partnerships and collaboration, also many challenges for collaboration were identified":

  • Complex value chains – e.g. the automotive sector needs 28.000 assembled parts of thousands of raw materials to produce a car
  • Lack of information
  • Lack of clear and common understanding of the meaning of sustainability
  • Lack of engaging of SMEs and understanding of the informal market at a local level
  • Creating a level playing field that would attract a wider participation
  • Difficulty in addressing consumers – e.g. through labels or more information which will allow more responsible consumption
  • Constructiveness without demonising an activity or a material

To address these challenges and scale up the efforts, participants called for the further allocation of resources, creating a common set of priorities and measures, integrating sustainability into a strategy or an action plan which addresses the issue in a long-term perspective, and most importantly, leadership.


CSR Europe has developed a specific methodology to develop collaborative platforms. We facilitate the Drive Sustainability initiative, which serves as a good example of how 10 leading automotive companies address sustainability issues in raw materials sourcing. 



We would like to extend our appreciation towards CSR Europe’s President Etienne Davignon, who took part in the Roundtable as well as to the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who co-hosted the meeting.


For their active participation at the roundtable, we would also like to thank:



Other pictures from the meeting can be found here.

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