2018 Sedex Southeast Asia Conference

The 2018 Sedex Southeast Asia Conference was hosted at the prestigious ‘Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur Hotel’, Malaysia, on November 8th. Over one hundred guests attended the conference, including speakers from global brands, suppliers, NGO and third-party audit companies. The attendees shared a variety of opinions around the theme of “Responsible Sourcing in Practice” and the current trends, threats and opportunities of supply chains in Southeast Asia.


Attendee Summary


Nestlé shared the tough challenges, which the global food industry is facing: climate change, ocean acidification, aerosol pollution, nitrogen cycle, phosphorus cycle, global freshwater depletion, land overuse and a loss of biodiversity. These problems are highly prevalent in Southeast Asia’s food industry, which has caused incalculable damage to the local environment. Nestlé holds the opinion that responsible sourcing can help to alleviate the effects of unethical decision making, but it requires immediate action to turn the tide. Consumer groups, government legislation and the media have aided the development of performance in supply chains, through applying external pressure to supervise and influence the ethical decision making of big business.

The Mekong Club

Issues surrounding the abuse of labour remains the most prominent problem in Southeast Asian supply chains. According to The Mekong Club’s research, about 11% of factory managers admit that labour problems, particularly modern slavery and forced labour, exist in their supply chains. The most common means of forced labor include debt, false recruitment and withholding of documents. These issues are proving hard to overcome, as forced labour and modern slavery is now an estimated $150 billion industry in Southeast Asia.


Malaysia’s rainforest area and wild mammal populations are declining every year. A substantial proportion of these habitats are found in low-lying areas below 300 meters, where fragmentation and isolation of habitat patches are most severe. The WWF believe this is likely linked to the rapid conversion of large areas of lowland dipterocarp forests to palm oil and timber plantations, through government and private land development schemes since the country gained independence in 1957.

The WWF have set ambitious objectives to try and reduce the global purchase of these Malaysian commodities by 75% and implement acceptable standards for future procurement. The WWF have objectives for each commodity and a baseline of sustainable sourcing. For example, by 2020 50% of all palm oil procured will be RSPO certified, today, only 6.3% is sustainably produced. By 2015, they aim to achieve zero loss of high ecosystems value areas due to palm oil conversion.

Soorty Textiles (BD) Ltd.

Clothing manufacturing is an important part of Southeast Asia’s economy. As a pioneer in this industry, Soorty’s responsible procurement practices are shared with other Southeast Asian factories. Soorty trains its employees on production safety and nutrition, child labor and forced labor, and reasonable remuneration to its employees. They aim to improve the image of responsible sourcing and set a benchmark for sustainable business practice in the region.

Sime Darby Plantation

Similarly to the palm oil supply chain problem, Sime Darby Plantation focuses more on labour and environmental issues.  There are too many uncontrollable risks in the supply chain, including forced Labor, unfair remuneration, destruction of biodiversity and excessive carbon emissions. In the future, the main aim for sustainable development will be the traceability of palm oil within supply chains.


ESTS believes that we are in the process of the fourth international industrial transfer, in which the European, American, Japanese and Asian markets have emerged. The fourth industrial shift occurred in China, as well as in Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia’s large demographic dividend and abundant working-age population has attracted many foreign investors to build factories here, which is an opportunity for Southeast Asia’s economic development. There is no denying that the risk factor of supply chains in Southeast Asia is high. ESTS provides three methods for managing supply chain risk: self-assessment, audit, and supplier training.

As the moderator of the panel discussion, Brian Chan, the Human & Workplace Rights Director from the Coca Cola Company shared us with the Coke’s efforts in responsible sourcing as well.


Sedex in Southeast Asia

In 2017, Sedex’s global reach continued to expand, and our tools and services were used by 50,000 members from 155 countries across 35 different industries. The number of Southeast Asian members. represented by Bangladesh, Thailand and Vietnam continues to grow at an exponential rate.

This conference was Sedex’s first development conference in Southeast Asia and Barry Marshall, chief operating officer of Sedex, introduced Sedex’s new tools and services for 2018, which aim to better serve the members around our 4 pillars of sustainability.



Thanks to the following sponsors for their support.

* Thanks to the supportive from  Pixel Bitz Event Solutions which is a Malaysia base professional event management services and operation company and our official event partner for Sedex Southeast Asia Conference 2018.

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