The Regulation of International Supply Chains (RISC)

Project summary

RISC will investigate the regulation of International Supply Chains in the Bangladesh (BD) Ready-Made Garment (RMG) industry with respect to Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) and wider social sustainability. Whilst a multitude of regulatory initiatives emerged after the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster, little is known about what approaches are most effective, what the variety of efforts mean for the industry overall, or how lessons may be applied more systematically in BD and beyond. Therefore, RISC will: identify attributes of effective governance; provide new academic and practical knowledge on the governance of OHS and social sustainability in international supply chains; and contribute to local capacity-building, policy development and company practices for social sustainability in BD and beyond, including against the benchmarks of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Research will focus on the organizations, governance initiatives and industry context; their activities and interactions; and their impacts on OHS and wider social sustainability in BD. Methods will be inter-disciplinary and primarily qualitative, yielding both academic contributions about the governance of sustainability in international supply chains, as well as practical lessons and insight for practitioners to apply to their own work. RISC also supports the integration of findings into BD organizations and initiatives to support capacity and promote sustainable solutions.

RISC adopts a collaborative approach combining academic institutions (CBS; BRAC Uni BD;Tufts) and an industry multi-stakeholder initiative (the Danish Ethical Trading Initiative) with networks in DK and BD. The research aims to build local capacity by enabling: the involvement of BD MSc students; the development of research skills of junior BD researchers; and collaboration between junior and senior scholars, and with practitioners.

Outputs

First year report
After Rana Plaza, millions in donor funds flowed into BD for dozens of projects addressing various aspects of social sustainability, such as OHS. Yet, no comprehensive overview exists, much less insight into effectiveness. So, RISC is building an inventory of projects and analyzing them to understand the mix of and connections between the various efforts. It will conduct case studies of projects varying by issue (e.g. gender empowerment/OHS) and approach (e.g. worker training/policy changes). Collectively, these insights enable RISC to identify the attributes of effective governance for OSH specifically and sustainability more broadly.

Project findings will be disseminated both via academic papers and conferences, as well as to practitioners through events and reports with its project partner DIEH. RISC also aims to strengthen the capacities of researchers and practitioners, achieved via workshops for students and faculty and practitioner events.

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