G7 Sustainable Supply Chains Initiative: From Commitment to Action


Future generations need more sustainable and stable food systems. But how can this comprehensive transformation succeed and what responsibility does the private sector bear? These questions were the focus of the G7 Sustainable Supply Chains Initiative (G7 SSCI) side event as part of the ‘Champion Youth Action’ day at the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27).

From left to right: Felicitas Rörig (BMZ), Diane Holdorf (Moderation & WBCSD), Michael O. Okoroafor (Mc. Cormick & Co.), Viktoria de Bourbon de Parme (WBA) at the G7 SSCI Side Event of the COP27. © GIZ, 2022
From left to right: Felicitas Rörig (BMZ), Diane Holdorf (Moderation & WBCSD), Michael O. Okoroafor (Mc. Cormick & Co.), Viktoria de Bourbon de Parme (WBA) at the G7 SSCI Side Event of the COP27. © GIZ, 2022

By Shivani Kannabhiran

Shivani Kannabhiran is Sectorlead for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains at the OECD Centre for Responsible Business Conduct. She is a specialist in risk-based due diligence and leads the work on responsible agricultural supply chains. She works closely with policymakers, businesses, investors, civil society and labour representatives to promote the OECD standards for responsible business conduct worldwide.

All contributions

Climate change and current geopolitical developments show that large-scale efforts are needed in the private sector to make global agriculture and food supply chains more sustainable, inclusive and resilient. With that in mind, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in collaboration with the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) and the Centre for Responsible Business Conduct of the OECD (RBC Centre, OECD) organised a side event at this year’s COP27 on 15 November. Under the title ‘Delivering transparency and transformational change in food systems – How the G7 Sustainable Supply Chains Initiative is working to meet young people’s demands for sustainable and resilient food systems’, representatives from politics, business and youth came together to discuss the possibilities and limitations of voluntary measures to achieve sustainable agricultural supply chains within the context of the G7 SSCI.


The G7 SSCI was launched in December 2021 under the UK G7 Presidency and subsequently expanded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) during the German G7 Presidency. The G7 SSCI brings together stakeholders from the public and private sectors to sustainably transform food systems and reinforce global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Under the initiative, 22 leading global food and agriculture companies from G7 countries have committed to improving their supply chains based on environmental, nutritional and social indicators. In this context, the WBA’s Food and Agriculture Benchmark facilitates an objective and internationally recognised measurement of sustainability progress.


The fact that voluntary declarations of commitment are not enough and that all stakeholders need to be involved became clear during the event. Felicitas Röhrig, Senior Policy Officer at the BMZ, emphasised in her opening speech that future generations will clearly bear the disastrous consequences of climate change and must be increasingly involved in strategic decision-making processes. Moreover, change can only be possible through close collaboration between the private and public sectors, as in the G7 SSCI. Viktoria de Bourbon de Parme (Lead Food and Agriculture Transformation, WBA) also sees the G7 SSCI as a great example of the private sector taking accountability. In only 12 months, 75% of the 22 member companies were able to show first successes, mainly in the environmental indicators of the benchmark. At the same time, there are still many problem areas, such as in the area of deforestation-free supply chains or the achievement of living wages. At this point, she appeals especially to the youth and civil society to draw attention to deficits.


Young people can make an important contribution with fresh and unconventional ideas.


According to youth representative Silke Remmits (i4nature), an essential component of enabling successful collaboration is that companies provide transparent and open information about their sustainability practices and goals and involve young people as equal stakeholders in important decisions. This idea was also echoed by G7 SSCI Corporate Representative Michael Okoroafor (Chief Sustainability Officer, McCormick & Co.), who highlighted the need for ‘reverse mentoring’, which stipulates learning from younger generations within the company.


‘We don’t inherit the planet from our ancestors – we borrow it from our children’ (Michael Okoroafor, McCormick & Co.).


While voluntary commitments are only part of the necessary smart mix, they are a first step towards achieving climate and sustainability goals. Therefore, I emphasize the need to open up the G7 SSCI to more companies in order to further measure the success of private sector action. Voluntary commitments can only lead to effective action if all stakeholders, including civil society and youth, work together.


Back to overview