The World Economic Forum’s meeting at Davos is a unique environment in which high level political and economic debate overlaps with in-depth discussion of micro-economic trends.

At Davos 2014, for example, delegates in the Congress Hall heard from David Cameron, the UK’s prime minister, about the importance of supply chain to the future of the UK’s manufacturing industry and economy. Perhaps as interesting as the content of his speech was his range of vocabulary, talking about the importance of near-sourcing.

However, as well as the major policy announcements that the Davos meeting has become well-known for, there are a host of private meetings to discuss other initiatives. As Chair of the Logistics and Supply Chain Global Agenda Council, I have been involved in meetings affecting this particular sector with participants including government ministers, academics, supply chain officers and logistics executives. These have included:

  • Post Harvest Food Losses. With populations in the developing world set to grow rapidly in the coming decades, the challenge of ensuring food supply is immense. One project which was initiated by the Logistics and Supply Chain Council last year examined how improvements in logistics could impact on reducing food losses, currently estimated at over 30%.
  • Corruption. An ever present problem facing the industry is that of corruption. The WEF project, Partnership Against Corruption Initiative (PACI), has been successively mobilising support against corruption from within government and industry. One meeting heard success stories from ministers in Chile and even Myanmar. Cracking down on Customs corruption was a key theme.
  • Ethical and sustainable supply chains. Globalisation has been responsible for lifting many millions of people out of poverty. However multinational companies have a responsibility for labour and environmental practices of their suppliers in the developing world. Embracing this approach will reinforce the benefits of globalisation and create consumer goodwill – impacting positively on companies’ economic as well as societal worth. Identifying best practice will be one initiative to emerge from Davos.
  • International e-retailing. If the benefits of the internet e-retailing phenomenon are to be shared across all geographies, then its development must be facilitated. The way in which the Customs authorities and governments deal with the rapidly increasing flows of goods will influence whether or not cross-border shopping becomes a mainstream or niche activity. A high level forum of delegates sent a clear message on what needs to be done.

One of the key worths of Davos is its ability to bring together a range of senior figures who would never normally meet. Hence it provides a unique opportunity to identify challenges and fast track solutions, to the benefit not only of the logistics and supply chain industry but to wider society as a whole.