Research Network Sustainable Global Supply Chains

Global supply chains are the product of international economic interdependence and the transnational organization of goods and services. As such, they play an integral part in shaping our economies, societies, and our environment. Their design requires a detailed understanding of different structures underlying global supply chains, the power dynamics among the actors involved, as well as the impact and risks of policy measures and control mechanisms by companies and states.

The definition of (governance) standards, for example through mandatory due diligence regulations for companies, is seen as an important instrument for shaping working conditions, environmental impacts, and participation rights in global supply chains. A universal framework for due diligence regulations is therefore increasingly demanded at both the German and the European level. 

However, knowledge on sustainable supply chains is currently fragmented and not systematically available for scientific policy advice. There are considerable knowledge gaps, particularly in light of fundamental changes in global supply chains as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the effects of voluntary and binding sustainability standards. The “Research Network Sustainable Global Supply Chains” therefore invites more than 70 leading international scientists to bundle and process existing knowledge within this field, initiate new research and derive policy-relevant and evidence-based recommendations for political decision-makers and other stakeholders. 

The project is led by four German research institutions: the German Development Institute (GDI), the German Institute on International and Security Affairs (SWP), the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), and the Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel). As part of the project, SWP will organize several (international) conferences and events with a focus on political stakeholders and policy consulting. Through close cooperation with the project Transnational Governance of Sustainable Commodity Supply Chains coordinated by Dr Melanie Müller, the SWP will further contribute academic publications and expertise on sustainable supply chains in the raw mineral sector.

The website forms the central hub of the Research Network. There, our members present and discuss their research results from a wide array of fields, including sustainability, economic development, human rights, environmental and climate impacts, and corporate responsibility in global supply chains. The content is made available in the form of blog posts, podcasts, conferences and events, and scientific publications.

Duration: August 2020 – Juli 2022

Head of Project: Prof Dr Günter Maihold

Research Assistant: Inga Carry

Student Assistant: Meike Schulze

Financial Support: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development


Günther Maihold, Melanie Müller, Christina Saulich, Svenja Schöneich

Responsibility in Supply Chains

Germany’s Due Diligence Act Is a Good Start

SWP Comment 2021/C 21, March 2021, 7 Pages


Bernice McLean, Melanie Müller

Shaping sustainable supply chains

Supply Chain Disruptions and African-European Relations

in:, 10.03.2021 (online)
Melanie Müller

Crisis-proofing Supply Chains: “It’s about Human Rights Too”

The pandemic has exposed the magnitude of global dependency on supply relationships. Melanie Müller discusses with Candida Splett how the resilience of supply chains can be improved. Human rights are an important aspect.

Point of View, 03.02.2021
Günther Maihold, Viktoria Reisch

Environmental Rights and Conflicts over Raw Materials in Latin America

The Escazú Agreement Is Ready to Come into Force in 2021

SWP Comment 2021/C 04, January 2021, 8 Pages



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