University cooperation for sustainable agricultural supply chains 2023
Coffee smells, late summer sun lies over the park - and slight tension spreads. For now 22 students are presenting at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development what they have worked on over the last few days. During their presentation they will also be talking about the coffee that ends up in the cup at the end of a long supply chain. Retail purchasing practices, digitalization, German and EU legislation, empowerment of women at the beginning of supply chains: The topics of the presentations are diverse and they are based on the in-depth knowledge that the students have acquired in a block seminar.
Invitation to future managers
For the second time, the Initiative for Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains (INA), on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), invited students to a three-day block seminar in Bonn from September 6-8, 2023. Under the title 'Making Global Value Chains Sustainable', the group exchanged ideas with experts from business, civil society and politics. Most students of the group are studying business administration or logistics. What they have in common is that they will be the next generation of managers, in whose hands will also lie part of the responsibility for future supply chains. The idea of BMZ and INA is to sensitize young people to the fair and sustainable design of global supply chains while they are still studying, thus laying a foundation for their later professional actions.
Exchange between five universities
In Bonn, 22 students from five universities came together: Berlin University of Applied Sciences (HTW), Kühne Logistics University, International Business School (CBS) Cologne, Witten-Herdecke University and Nuremberg Technical University. The participants particularly appreciated the academic and personal exchange, which allowed them to look beyond the horizons of their own university. For example, students from TH Nuremberg shared their insights on the 'True Prices' campaign of the Penny supermarket chain based on the True Cost Accounting approach together with a member of the academic team.
Discussion with companies and civil society
Other topics of the block seminar moved along the challenges of agricultural supply chains: The concept of living incomes and wages, legal regulations such as the EU regulation for deforestation-free products, traceability of raw materials through digitalization, the effectiveness of standards and certifications, and the role of feminist development policy for gender justice in agricultural supply chains. To this end, the students discussed with experts from the INA team as well as from companies such as Tony's Chocolonely and GEPA, and civil society organizations such as Fairtrade Deutschland. There were also practical insights as the students took a closer look at various everyday agricultural products such as bananas, tea and chocolate to determine their supply chain and the problems they face.
After the three-day seminar in Bonn, the group will now return to the universities for the time being. In spring, the group will meet again for a study trip to a partner country, where they will learn about the beginning of agricultural supply chains on site.
Images: © Vera Heyes-Johannsen / Felix Hirschberg