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Activities of the Austrian NCP

The Austrian NCP organises three to four expert talks and discussion fora annually. The NCP also participates in stakeholder events on responsible business conduct and provides brochures and other information material on the OECD Guidelines.

Activities 2018

Discussion Event "Digitalisation and Global Responsibility" on 11 June 2018

Blockchain, the Internet of Things or Big Data are considered as "game changers" for more transparency and flexibility in the supply chain. According to the speakers, digital technologies could make a significant contribution to identify risks in upstream supply chains.

Transparency becomes a key element in the supply chain: "Not only localising products, but being able to trace them along the entire supply chain is becoming a key element in supply chain management," emphasised Christian Friesl, Head of Education and Society of the Federation of Austrian Industries. Ensuring real supply chain transparency is finally possible through the help of digital technologies.

Current developments: Transparency, sustainability, environmental protection and combating corruption will also be considered in the 2018 External Trade Strategy, which is currently developed, stated Bernadette Marianne Gierlinger, Director General for External Trade Policy and European Integration in the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs. Specific attention is given to the opportunities being brought in by digitalisation. Director General Gierlinger also referred to the new OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct, which provides practical support to companies across all industries on due diligence along the entire supply chain.

Increased supplier visibility through digital technologies: "Sustainability problems usually do not arise with direct suppliers, but in the upstream supply chain," said Martin Schleper, Sustainable Operations Management at the University of Sussex. In supply chain due diligence and risk identification, companies usually have to rely on information provided from their first tier suppliers. Especially for small and medium-sized enterprises it is often not possible to receive information from upstream suppliers due to low purchasing volumes. Digital technologies such as blockchain, as well as social media and big data can increase the visibility of suppliers and help to better identify risks in the supply chain", said Schleper.

Digital technologies being tested: Many companies are currently testing whether digital technologies can be used to verify that their supply chains are free from forced labour, human trafficking or corruption, explained Tara Norton, Managing Director of the international consultancy BSR. Projects include a joint venture between the Danish transport and logistics company Maersk and IBM, the 'bean-to-cup' blockchain initiative from the coffee company Starbucks with select coffee farmers in Costa Rica, Colombia and Rwanda or a project by the consumer goods company Unilever and the British supermarket Sainsbury's with tea farmers in Malawi.

Unlocking the Potential of Digitalisation: Achieving sustainability targets would not be possible without digitalisation, said Manfred Schekulin, Head of Export and Investment Policy and Chairman of the OECD Investment Committee, in the discussion with Tara Norton, BSR, Martin Schleper, University of Sussex, and Michaela Kegel, Compliance and Sustainability Services at KPMG. Digitalisation could help to work through standards such as the OECD Guidelines in a structured manner, to harmonise the large number of codes of conduct, or to predict short-term political or labour law risks using algorithms, said Michaela Kegel. However, decision-making and trust in the accuracy of information cannot be replaced by digital applications, the panelists agreed.

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Picture 1: Bernadette Marianne Gierlinger/Head of the Directorate General for External Trade Policy and European Integration in the BMDW, Christian Friesl/Head of Education and Society in the  IV photo: BMDW
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Picture 2: Bernadette Marianne Gierlinger/ BMDW welcomes the participants of the discussion event photo: BMDW
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Picture 3: Bernadette Marianne Gierlinger/ BMDW and the participants of the discussion event photo: BMDW
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Picture 4: On panel (from left to right): Manfred Schekulin/ BMDW, Tara Norton/BSR, Martin Schleper/University of Sussex, Michaela Kegel/ KPMG photo: BMDW
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Picture 5: Panelists Discussion (from left to right): Manfred Schekulin/ BMDW, Martin Schleper/University of Sussex, Bernadette Marianne Gierlinger/ BMDW, Tara Norton/ BSR, Christian Friesl/ IV, Iris Hammerschmid/Head of the Austrian National Association, Michaela Kegel/ KPMG photo: BMDW

Contact Information

Mario Micelli
Austrian NCP for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs
Telephone: (+43) 1 711 00-805240 or 805050
Fax: (+43) 1 711 00-8045050