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Climate change and modern slavery in public procurement

Research project to address the climate change impact on modern slavery risks in public sector’s supply chains.

A collaboration between Unseen UK, University of Surrey, University of Bath, University of the West of England and London Universities Purchasing Consortium will come together on a research project to address the links between climate change, modern slavery, and public sector’s supply chains to improve the UK policy in this area.

There is increasing recognition of the links between climate change and modern slavery. However, the efforts to manage the impact of climate change and the modern slavery risks in supply chains have often been conducted in isolation. Organisations which negotiate and manage agreements for public sector buyers, the scope of which includes sustainability management, are well-placed to incorporate efforts to address both issues concurrently. However, we currently know little of how attempts to manage both climate and labour risks simultaneously are impacting those important issues.

The researchers will work with London Universities Purchasing Consortium (LUPC), a public sector buyer, and Unseen UK, a non-profit focused on eradicating modern slavery. The project will generate a single, in-depth case study comprised of multiple tiers of public sector supply chains. The researchers will conduct individual interviews with purchasing staff at buyer organisations, LUPC staff responsible for sustainability, and suppliers with relevant relationships. They will also organise focus groups with purchasing managers and supplier managers.

These interviews will be informed beforehand by assistance from LUPC, by detailed readings of disclosures on climate change and modern slavery by the relevant parties, in collaboration with Unseen UK and consultants contracted through that organization who have lived experience of modern slavery.

The project aims to develop evidence-based recommendations for policymakers, public sector purchasing managers and supply chain managers on links between climate change and modern slavery.

Research team:

Michael Rogerson, Lecturer in Digital Economy, University of Surrey

Johanne Grosvold, Associate Professor of Corporate Governance and CSR

Kyle Alves, Senior Lecturer, Operations and Supply Chain Management, University of the West of England - Bristol