A record 53 participants, representing 34 companies and organisations, attended the second AIM-PROGRESS membership meeting this year, hosted by Pernod-Ricard at their GH Mumm site in Reims (France) on 23-25 June.
Orkla’s account of how they collaborated with Greenpeace on mitigating deforestation and climate change risks from palm oil sourcing provided a topical background to a panel discussion between senior representatives of companies from the AIM-PROGRESS Advisory Board (Coca-Cola, General Mills, Mars, Nestlé): how are companies’ sustainability commitments operationalised throughout their organisations and translated into clear responsible sourcing practices, and how can companies manage and respond to critical NGO campaigns? All recognized that senior company management engagement, as well as involvement of buyers was key to ensure that sustainable sourcing targets were achieved. Collaboration with different stakeholders, in particular with NGOs, creates opportunities for companies to achieve more and is becoming the norm for responsible businesses.
Practical testimonials on how companies are implementing responsible sourcing are a regular feature of AIM-PROGRESS meetings, both to share best practice and also to obtain advice from the companies present on problem areas presenters may be experiencing. Participants had the opportunity to get inspiration from L’Oreal and Keurig Green Mountain.
Human Rights and operationalising Ruggie remain a top priority for responsible companies. Participants heard from IMPA-Act about the shipping industry’s efforts to adapt their responsible sourcing approach to the due diligence processes required by the UN Guiding Principles and discussed future work plan priorities for AIM-PROGRESS.
Agriculture is a focus area for responsible sourcing for many food companies represented in AIM-PROGRESS. SAI Platform presented their recently launched Farmer Self-Assessment tool and provided insights how to take sourcing requirements to farm level without overwhelming small-scale producers. AIM-PROGRESS members expressed their support for this tool, and those companies using Sedex made a strong recommendation that any update of the Sedex SAQ should mirror the SAI tool.
Participants worked in break-out sessions to provide input into further developing the AIM-PROGRESS three strategy pillars: member capability development, effectively assuring compliance and going beyond compliance. Particular attention was given to the question on how to drive compliance in the supply chain through advanced member capability. A “top-tips” document was shared by the Mutual Recognition work stream for comment by participants. For all three pillars concrete deliverables will be suggested for AIM-PROGRESS to achieve until the end of 2016, in support of our mission of Positively impacting people’s lives through our combined leadership of robust responsible sourcing practices throughout our supply chains. Members expressed an appetite for pooling their individual efforts to support concrete projects “on the ground” together, such as supporting development for key commodity providers.The ambitious strategy will require an adaptation of the resources which are currently at the organisation’s disposal.
The next meeting will be held in New York City (US) 3-4 November 2014, hosted by Colgate-Palmolive.