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Westrock and Colgate-Palmolive were the hosts of the first AIM-PROGRESS member meeting of the year 2018, held in Richmond, VA at the end of February. In its 10th year of existence, AIM-PROGRESS continues to deliver value to members in terms of learning, networking and helping them build their own responsible sourcing approaches. In 2017 we can proud of an impressive list of achievements:
· Organisation of four supplier events in Dubai, India, Malaysia and Mexico, at which brands discuss responsible sourcing, ethical audits and specific geographical challenges with their suppliers. Focus was mainly on migrant/forced labour, grievance mechanisms, anti-corruption, land-use and working conditions. Around 600 supplier representatives attended these events.
· Joint supplier conference in Bangkok with the Consumer Goods Forum on the specific topic of forced labour. AIM-PROGRESS supports the CGF resolution on eradicating forced labour, as well as the three priority principles, and is committed to spreading the message and help implementation in the FMCG industry.
· Launch of a regional AIM-PROGRESS hub in Asia-Pacific, which is managed by CSR Asia/ ELEVATE. This is currently in pilot phase to see whether there is sufficient local member traction to maintain an active Asian member base.
· Agreement to start working "on the ground" on specific issues in certain geographies, where members have common interests and are ready to co-fund responsible sourcing projects and solutions. First pilot work has been launched on cane sugar working conditions in Mexico.
· Mutual Recognition of audits is still going strong. The current shared list of suppliers audited by member companies comprises just over 19,000 records - a huge opportunity to avoid duplication of audit efforts.
· But Mutual Recognition is not only about audits; our dedicated work stream is also looking at other "things" which can be mutually recognised. A pilot is running with EcoVadis to share supplier assessments initiated by AIM-PROGRESS member companies who are also members of EcoVadis with the broader membership. The value of getting access to these assessments lies in not having to initiate a different one with suppliers, should the existing one be acceptable.
· Update of SMETA: AIM-PROGRESS was a key contributor to the update of the SEDEX SMETA audit protocol. We managed to enhance the protocol with new elements which are of crucial importance to leading members of AIM-PROGRESS. Given that SMETA or equivalent is our common audit protocol benchmark for mutual recognition of audits, this is a very important achievement, and will further enable mutual recognition of audits between members.
· Impact measurement: together with Sedex and Impactt Ltd, AIM-PROGRESS released a first draft of a worker voice based measurement tool on the effects of our human rights efforts in responsible sourcing. This tool will be made available to the broader responsible sourcing community soon.
· Business toolkit for suppliers: this toolkit explains in simple terms how good management practices - as requested by brands through their responsible sourcing requirements - are an essential part of ensuring a sustainable and resilient business model. The toolkit gives practical advice on how to improve productivity, quality and work force management - areas which are inextricably linked. It will be translated into mandarin, portuguese and spanish.
2018 will be seeing a continuation of our efforts and closer collaboraton with similar initiatives.