Research Network

We see supply chains as
key to sustainability

Research Network Sustainable
Global Supply Chains

About the network

Global supply chains are the product of international economic interdependence and the transnational organization of goods and services. As such, they play an integral part in shaping our economies, societies, and our environment. Their design requires a detailed understanding of different structures underlying global supply chains, the power dynamics among actors involved, as well as the impact and risks of policy measures and control mechanisms by companies and states. The definition of (governance) standards, for example through mandatory due diligence regulations for companies, is seen as an important instrument for shaping working conditions, environmental impacts, and participation rights in global supply chains. A universal framework for due diligence regulations is therefore increasingly demanded at both the German and the European level. However, knowledge on sustainable supply chains is currently fragmented and not systematically available for scientific policy advice. There are considerable knowledge gaps, particularly in light of fundamental changes in global supply chains as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the effects of voluntary and binding sustainability standards. The “Research Network Sustainable Global Supply Chains” therefore invites more than 70 leading international scientists to bundle and process existing knowledge within this field, initiate new research and derive policy-relevant and evidence-based recommendations for political decision-makers and other stakeholders.


In so doing, the Research Network seeks to answer the following questions:
How can and should global value chains be designed sustainably? How can standards and due diligence be agreed upon and turned into binding commitments in a transnational framework? What effects do sustainabilty standards have on trade and investment flows, income levels and distribution, on the environment, on participation, human rights, etc.? This website forms the central hub of the Research Network. Here, our members present and discuss their research results from a wide array of research fields, including sustainability, economic development, human rights, environmental and climate impacts, and corporate responsibility in global supply chains. The content is made available in the form of blog posts, podcasts, conferences and events, and scientific publications.


The network is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and hosted by four organisations:

The German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), located in the UN-city of Bonn, is one of the leading Think Tanks for development policy world-wide. DIE’s research is theory-based, empirically backed, and application-oriented.

German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) is an independent research institute that advises the German Bundestag and the German government as well as international organisations such as the European Union, NATO and the United Nations on questions concerning foreign and security policy.

The German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) is an independent social science research institute based in Hamburg, Germany. It conducts social-science research with real-world relevance on Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, and on global developments. With its mandate – its research and knowledge transfer – the GIGA aims to achieve both academic and societal impact.

The Kiel Institute for the World Economy is an independent research institute with a focus on globalization, investigating the drivers and effects of international economic activity, the integration and disintegration of global markets as well as the opportunities and limits of political action in open economies.

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