Three Key Supply Chain Areas to Mitigate and Adapt to Climate Change Effects

November 16th, 2022 | Viewpoint


Strong supply chains save lives by ensuring that high-quality, affordable health supplies are available to people today and in the future.

However, climate change is disrupting supply chains, which also contribute to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions and waste.

In a previous viewpoint piece, we examined how reducing health supply chain emissions while building supply chain resiliency to increasing climate-related shocks and stresses, would significantly contribute to climate change mitigation efforts, ensuring health commodities continue to reach people despite increasing and shifting disease burdens.

JSI recently convened a panel of experts to discuss supply chain contributions to climate change and opportunities for action. Through exploring public and private sector examples from around the world, a number of key themes became clear:

Sustainable procurement. The procurement, use, and disposal of expired commodities that flow through supply chains accounts for a large proportion of health system emissions and waste. By instituting sustainable procurement practices, such as working with suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and eliminate single-use plastics, supply chain actors can make improvements throughout the system.

Digitization and data analytics. Digitization is increasing visibility and traceability throughout the supply chain, and providing extensive data sets that inform decision-making. Analysis and optimization of trends, such as shifting disease burdens, will enable targeted climate adaptation efforts. For example, as climate change-driven flooding is increasing malaria transmission in Zambia, the ministry of health is employing seasonal malaria modeling to optimize supply and demand planning.

Localizing supply chains. Sourcing products closer to demand can reduce carbon emissions and strengthen supply chain resilience. For example, near- or on-shoring manufacturing can make supply chains more resilient to climate-related shocks upstream, which will be crucial for health systems that import large quantities of commodities.

While some progress has been made over the years to build low-carbon, climate-resilient health systems, more collaborative and targeted action is needed to curb supply chain contributions to climate change.

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