Competition or climate protection: International commerce seeks a new balance

Kühne Foundation hosts Logistics Day at Kühne Logistics University International commerce, an increased focus on sustainability in management education, and closer collaboration between research and practice are key elements to limiting the impacts of climate change. This was the conclusion reached by the experts at the Kühne Foundation’s 18th Logistics Day, which focused on new prospects for doing business in view of ongoing climate change. The event was hosted by Foundation President Prof. Dr. h.c. Klaus-Michael Kühne.

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“International commerce is part of the solution and will fulfill a pivotal role in the battle against climate change,” said Prof. Ralph Ossa, Kühne Center for Sustainable Trade and Logistics, University of Zurich and a Guest Professor at KLU, during the event. The more demand there is for environmentally friendly products and services, the more often commerce will select partners in production and transport on the basis of their ecological balance. This can already be seen in the trend toward nearshoring, i.e., the re-regionalization of supply chains. According to Prof. Ossa: “We need economically motivated ‘green’ trade routes. The Chinese economy, too, will only make sustainability a priority in response to economic pressure. This area holds tremendous potential for transformation.”

New key competences in upper-tier management: Sustainability and supply chains

In-depth knowledge of sustainable business and sustainable supply chains will become a new key qualification, as Prof. Johannes Meuer, Director of KLU’s Center for Sustainable Logistics and Supply Chains (CSLS), underscored: “Firms need to invest in training their managers today: ten years from now at the latest, every CEO will also be expected to be an expert on sustainability.” This claim is supported by the latest IPCC Assessment Report, which states in no uncertain terms that the 2020s are the last, critical decade for mitigating climate change. According to Meuer, KLU, as a university with a strong practical focus, can greatly contribute to green logistics.

Climate-neutral economy: Closer collaboration between research and business

The required rapid transition to a climate-neutral economy can only be achieved by working together, an aspect agreed upon by all invited experts at Logistics Day.
Accordingly, KLU President Prof. Dr. Thomas Strothotte called for even closer collaboration between research and business: “It is only by combining the expertise, ideas and resources of the business and research sectors that Germany can cut emissions by 65 percent by 2030 and become climate-neutral by 2045.” To make that happen, both sides have to meet in the middle. Thinktanks and research institutes like the Center for Sustainable Logistics and Supply Chains (CSLS) at Kühne Logistics University, he claimed, are good examples.

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