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The three dimensions of sustainable supply chains: Inspirational lecture by Prof. Alexander Hübner

Why are sustainable supply chains more relevant than ever? And what exactly is behind this concept of “sustainable supply chains”? Prof. Dr. Alexander Hübner, who holds the professorship for Supply and Value Chain Management at the Technical University of Munich, explained more about this topic in his latest inspirational lecture on the topic of sustainability at the TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning.

The picture is certainly still fresh in the minds of all readers: empty supermarket shelves in the spring of 2020; noodles, rice or toilet paper completely sold out. Some people are afraid that they will not be able to get their supplies in time before a possible further lockdown due to the Covid 19 pandemic. And it can still take days until the next delivery, how long – the companies involved, from the supermarket to the shipping company to the manufacturer in between, do not know exactly. This is just one of the examples given by Prof. Dr. Hübner at the beginning of his presentation, showing why functioning supply chains affect us all – and are more important than ever.

Supply chain law should ensure compliance with human rights

Prof. Alexander Hübner; Professor for Supply Chain Management am Campus Straubing
Foto: Andreas Heddergott

In the past, it was primarily a matter of ensuring that supply chains functioned and were profitable, Prof. Hübner recounts. The “profit”, i.e. price minus the costs incurred, was the determining factor. In the meantime, however, this picture has changed considerably, according to the TUM expert – and that’s a good thing: The factors “People” and “Planet” are adding sustainable and social topics to the supply chain mechanics. For example, the Supply Chain Law (“Lieferkettengesetz”), which will soon be introduced in Germany, aims to increase transparency and protect human rights along the individual stages. However, changing processes in companies so that they comply with the law is sometimes a challenge for companies – many individual steps have to be reviewed and optimized.

Responsibility of companies to design processes sustainably

But even beyond the law, Prof. Hübner considers the topic of sustainability and the associated social justice to be relevant for supply chain managers: The question “Why should I care about sustainability?” can be answered by humanity alone. For example, 80% of all cocoa produced on earth passes through the hands of people who live in slave conditions. Only an average of 18 cents of a T-shirt, which retails for around 29 euros, ends up with the person who ultimately produces the garment. Supply chain managers have it in their hands – and bear part of the responsibility – to change this and similar situations.

Prof. Hübner developed new certificate program at TUM for professionals

Therefore, Prof. Hübner clearly advocated in his lecture to become clearly aware of the different sustainability dimensions and to take the next step towards sustainability management in the company.

From February 2022, he himself will be supporting professionals in the field of “Sustainable Management & Technology” together with other TUM researchers and experts from the field. As Academic Director, he teaches in the certificate program of the same name, which uses various inspirational lectures and practical sessions to support participants in their careers in making processes in their companies more sustainable and managing transformation processes. In addition to sustainable supply chains, topics include sustainable energy, climate policy, and waste reduction. The certificate also includes the development of real case studies, which participants can bring in from their organizations. You can find out more about the program by following this link. Registrations are open now, the number of participants is limited.

Those who would like to take the RESPECT International test “How many slaves work for you?” recommended by Prof. Hübner can do so here.

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