When you think about all of the horrible things associated with business using fossil fuels and creating
harmful emissions destroying communities via the extraction of natural resources using so many of the
earth’s natural resources that habitats are destroyed creating tons of industrial waste each day toxic
waste nuclear waste creating products that will one day occupy landfills for hundreds if not thousands
Who in business is responsible for most of those things.
I’m happy to say it’s the folks in the supply chain.
Yeah that’s the bad news.
But here’s the good news.
This also means that the folks in the supply chain are the ones with the power to make this world a
And here’s even better news.
You don’t have to be into sustainability to be onboard.
Because there really is no difference between good supply chain management and sustainable supply chain
What do good supply chain managers want.
They want to buy fewer materials make only what is needed.
Use the least amount of resources and they want to deliver and distribute goods in the most efficient
Not one of those things is in conflict with a sustainable supply chain.
So when supply chain managers find ways to lower inventory levels recycle packaging and defective items
reused boxes and pallets decrease retail packaging use fewer trucks and containers by filling them the
capacity reduce defective and damaged goods and even shift toward using renewable energies.
They aren’t just being green.
They are creating world class supply chains supply chains that are creating safer products supply chains
that are less vulnerable to shifts in the price of fuel materials and energy plus the more green the
supply chain the more likely it is that your supply chain is legally compliant.
Around the world when there is no waste and no emissions there is nothing for governments to regulate.
Plus leading sustainable supply chains may become the model for future environmental laws.
Tell me would you rather be the company that has to rush to comply with new laws or would you rather
be the model for the new laws thus forcing your competitors to play catch up.
Supply chain sustainability is sort of like shifting to a healthier diet isn’t it upfront.
It seems difficult.
It requires change.
It requires researching and experimenting.
But when you find those healthy meals you love eating becomes so much more satisfying you feel healthier
because you are healthier and thus your life becomes better you have more energy you’re more productive
at work you save on health care costs in the end.
When done right.
Eating healthy may cost you less than paying for cheap and unhealthy food today.
So the next time you are tasked with making your supply chain more sustainable don’t look at it as a
Look at it as an opportunity to make your supply chain stronger and healthier.
An earthquake strikes people need food fresh water shelter and clothing.
People are injured.
They need medicine and other supplies.
This this is a supply chain problem.
Where will you get the needed food water and supplies.
How will they be moved.
Will it be easy to get them into a foreign country where are the people in need.
Are the roads to get to them open and available.
No matter the answers though the stakes in this supply chain are so much higher.
Anything that is wasted may cost people their lives being wasteful and inefficient is not an option.
Such are the challenges in the emerging field of humanitarian supply chain management.
Think of the different types of disasters hurricanes and earthquakes they happen over a short period
of time while hunger and disease may stretch over large areas for years.
There are even human made disasters chemical spills nuclear disasters terrorist attacks and all political
disasters that cause citizens to flee and ultimately result in refugee camps.
Humanitarian organizations must struggle to build the appropriate supply chains for each scenario and
sometimes they must do it in a matter of hours.
Think of the challenges business supply chains face finding suppliers developing relationships keeping
communication open and free understanding the available infrastructure getting the vehicles that are
needed to ship items.
Understanding the complicated importing and exporting roles and associated for each country.
Now imagine doing that overnight in areas where corruption is likely to explode under these dire circumstances.
Imagine the complications of working with foreign military agencies and by the way humanitarian organizations
are just as competitive as companies.
They need to prove to donors that they can get the maximum benefit for every dollar that is donated.
Imagine donating $100 and finding out only 25 dollars worth of food water and medical supplies made
it to the people in need.
Would you give money to that organization again.
Like a business supply chain humanitarian supply chains are looking to be both effective and efficient
helping the maximum number of people for the minimum cost.
The challenges are great though and often a lack of business action causes massive inefficiencies that
only increase the pain and the suffering.
Consider that local governments may be wary of all these foreigners descending upon their community.
Consider that military business religious and humanitarian organizations are struggling to complete
the same tasks.
But since they are distrustful of each other they may actually not be willing to work together and share
Consider that nowadays the media will be right there next to humanitarian organizations documenting
and communicating your supply chain failures to the public and your donors.
Humanitarian organizations can no longer afford to overlook the value of modern supply chain management.
They are looking for people like you to help develop modern and sophisticated supply chains that can
be mobilized when disaster strikes.
Next time a global disaster strikes and you are captivated by the media coverage or as you contemplate
giving a donation.
Think of what you’re watching.
You are watching a humanitarian global supply chain develop nearly from scratch.
A humanitarian supply chain that cannot fail a supply chain that is hopefully made up of organizations
willing to cooperate for the good of the victims.
If asked Could you help a humanitarian organization create a plan today.
Now more than ever.
Humanitarian organizations need the help of supply chain management.