Technologies such as blockchain, GPS, and mobile phones are helping companies root out human rights risk in their supply chains
The world’s biggest companies have a global reach that is matched by their supply chains, which are long, complicated and very opaque, making it difficult to identify the plethora of potential human rights and environmental risks that could trip them up. In a world where the value of global trade was $16 trillion in 2015, according to the World Trade Organisation, this is a significant global challenge.
But just as a more connected world is shedding daylight on the possible abuses in companies’ supply chains, technology is also helping companies bring transparency to their supply chains, and restore consumer trust. These solutions range from schemes that harness well-worn technology such as mobile phones to cutting edge initiatives such as blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
The UK NGO Twin is working with a Dutch company called Landmapp to give smallholder farmers producing cocoa in Ghana documentation proving that they own their land. “The majority of people in co-operatives own their land but that ownership has not been formalised,” says Deborah Bickler, senior programme manager in Twin’s producer partnership programme. “Ownership has been managed through the local chieftains, but it has never been formally titled until...