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The power of partnerships: feedback from Drive Sustainability event

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Drive Sustainability, a partnership between 10 leading automotive companies (BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Scania CV AB, Toyota Motor Europe, Volkswagen Group, Volvo Cars and Volvo Group), announced on November 29, the set up of a Raw Materials Observatory.

The aim of the Raw Materials Observatory is to identify and address ethical, environmental, human and labour rights issues in the sourcing of raw materials.

That same day, they invited to Brussels around 70 representatives from automotive companies, automotive suppliers, NGOs and EU institutions. They discussed the approach surrounding the observatory. This stakeholder event was organised and facilitated by CSR Europe.

Time to Act

Hear the feedback of NGOs, suppliers and academics about the stakeholder event and dialogue.

Fanny Fremont is Executive Director of Responsible Mica Initiative (RMI) Association.

The automotive sector uses mica in different car parts (paint, coating, brake pads, disk pads, filler in plastic parts, silencers, batteries, compressors, commutators...). This makes them a key actor with regard to the mica supply chains. Drive Sustainability is currently in discussion with the Responsible Mica Initiative to contribute to their ambition of a 100% responsible Indian Mica supply chain over the next 5 years.

"For RMI, the DS event was a real opportunity to better understand the automotive industry, its challenges linked to raw materials’ supply chains and the agreed approach to address them. It was also the opportunity to introduce our own mission and objectives", says Fanny.

Fanny found out that risk assessment analysis can be conducted in many different ways (each one with its pros and cons).

"Commitment, mutual trust and strong conviction in the power of collective actions (beyond individual ones) will be the main ingredients for success."

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Eleonora Pessina Group Sustainability officer, Pirelli (delivers tyres as a supplier to automotive industry):

"The real value of the Drive Sustainability stakeholder dialogue lies in the approach. Firstly, It helps to identify the material opportunities and the joint issues we are all facing. Secondly, the discussions are open and transparent. They involve us as suppliers, and this helps exchanging views on the priorities of the automotive industry."

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Meera Pau Mehta, Corporate responsibility ManagerArcelor Mittal (steel supplier to automotive industry):

"The meeting was very inspiring. Having 10 leading automotive companies expressing a common message on their willingness to go beyond the complex raw materials issues and wanting to have impact, was very powerful.

The work around the Raw Materials Observatory is interesting: it puts systematic thinking at the core and looks for opportunities to really improve social and environmental conditions in the supply chain. This initiative could even become an example for other industries. As for the future, ArcelorMittal is interested in being involved in the next discussions. We share the ambition of our customers – to have the greatest impact we want to work in collaboration with both our customers and suppliers."

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Prof. Dr. Julia Schwarzkopfprofessor for Sustainability Management, HTW Berlin Business School.

"Communicating very boldly like the Drive Sustainability did, is a major step in the right direction. My recommendation would be to firmly establish the Drive Sustainability brand. Looking at the discussion with RMI, it will be so much more efficient to join collectively than each individually. Same thing with the Raw materials Observatory: it can differentiate by making its research public, and therefore transparent. Moreover, the mix of stakeholders (NGOs, suppliers, academics, EU institutions) was interesting. I expected more critical questions, but in fact you could strongly feel there was a common willingness to have impact."

Julia worked for Volkswagen for a number of years, with particular focus on supply chain sustainability within the purchasing department. She recently moved to become an academic specialised in sustainability management with a focus on sustainable supply chain management.

Her background enables her to have a different view;

"One of the components for future success will be trust between the partners. Fortunately, it is the same group of experts working in the Drive Sustainability initiative for 5 years now. Next steps will be to agree on what you can do jointly and what you can do individually. The power of collective action cannot be underestimated."