New global frameworks are emerging for due diligence and responsible supply chains. Stronger intergovernmental action can, for example, include reliable definitions and verification, and deal with laggards through mandatory regulation. Already existing systems in some areas such as timber and palm oil have caused tensions between the rich world and the Global South. It is important to integrate development aspects into coming legislation and to replace conflict in the World Trade Organization with dialogue on sustainability. Environmental aspects in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Due Diligence Guidelines can be strengthened, successful national initiatives as in the Netherlands can inspire others, and digital product passports can be developed. 

Working conditions are another important aspect of global supply chains. Although green jobs are often at the forefront of public debate, less attention has been paid to the need to combine such a perspective with action for decent work. How workers perceive environmental policies is of great importance for societal acceptance of, for example, climate action. Labour market organizations are crucial actors for just transitions and can support ambitious environmental policies under the right conditions. 

Digitalization offers both possibilities and challenges for environmental sustainability including for supply chains. It is a major factor affecting consumption and production patterns. International cooperation is needed, for example, on environmental footprint methodologies, sustainable algorithms and governance for green artificial intelligence. Following international initiatives such as the Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability (CODES) and the Global Partnership for Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), governments can in 2022 agree on measures for digital sustainability.  

The focus is on global cooperation between governments. Multilevel governance and public–private partnerships are key elements of today’s global agenda. Governments remain crucial for many of the solutions. As part of the analysis, the background note addresses some issues of particular importance to the Global South and to youth.

This paper is part of a series that supports the Stockholm+50: Unlocking a better future report.