Map Your Value Chain


Understand your extended network of suppliers, distributors, and customers.

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Value chains¹ have become increasingly long and complex² making it more challenging to identify sustainability risks, impacts, and opportunities. Understanding the origins of your goods and services, including where and how they are made, is crucial.

Identify your direct value chain partners

Begin by identifying your most relevant procurement categories with high potential for sustainability improvement. Relevance can be determined by factors like procurement spend or revenue share, as well as strategic priorities and sustainability interests.3 Next, identify all of your direct (Tier 1) suppliers for these top categories and create a visual overview by adding them to a map or diagram.4 This should include details such as site locations and supplier activities. You can also add data on sustainability-related impacts and risks, prioritising any suppliers in known high-risk regions or industries. While software can help,5 combining software and other tools with stakeholder engagement often provides a more comprehensive picture.

EXAMPLE: Campbell Soup Company commodity mapping

Campbell’s first mapping effort⁶ focused on identifying hotspots in their supply chain for sustainability risk related to 14 priority ingredients sourced from 5 countries. Campbell’s expanded their second mapping effort to 30 ingredients and added detail by including human rights, governance, and water metrics.

EXAMPLE: Patagonia's transparent supply chain mapping

Patagonia engaged in an effort to map its supply chain and provide transparency on product origins. Leveraging technology, data entry, and intensive collaboration, they have created an interactive online platform⁷ that locates factories globally, providing customers with better insights into the manufacturing journey of each product.⁸

EXAMPLE: Cargill maps cocoa suppliers using satellite technology

Cargill has leveraged GPS and satellite technology in partnership with organisations like the World Resources Institute, to develop an interactive map disclosing the locations of direct sourcing partners across Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Cameroon. By increasing transparency the initiative aims to tackle issues like deforestation and child labour in the cocoa industry.9

Map lower-tier suppliers, distributors, and customers

Expanding your mapping efforts to lower-tier suppliers involves tracing materials back to their origins, which is especially important for high-spend procurements or categories. This exercise might require suppliers to disclose details about their facilities, suppliers, and intermediaries. The further down the supply chain, the more challenging it can be to get disclosures. This is where collaboration becomes important.10 For instance, you can involve industry groups, NGOs, or government agencies to help gather additional data. Be aware that suppliers may hesitate to disclose information for fear of repercussions. Building supplier’s trust, offering incentives, and assuring anonymity can help. You may also consider third-party mapping services or traceability tools. Once you have gathered this data, layer on additional sustainability information, such as local labour standards or environmental factors. Remember that this process will take time and might reveal previously unknown sub-suppliers. You must also plan how best to capture and store this data for future use.

EXAMPLE: VF Corporation supply chain mapping

VF Corporation has implemented extensive supply chain mapping,11 tracing raw materials to finished products across 40 countries and thousands of suppliers. The company achieved its goal of publishing 100 product traceability maps by December 2021 and aims to trace five critical materials through 100% of its supply chain by 2027.

EXAMPLE: GIS for real-time risk and sustainability management

General Motors (GM) uses Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to map and monitor its global supply chain in real-time.12 The system accelerates crisis responses and helps GM meet sustainability goals by identifying suppliers in politically or environmentally risky areas. This dual functionality ensures operational continuity while supporting GM's ESG commitments.

EXAMPLE: Collaboration with NGO for supply chain transparency

Procurers, suppliers, and brands work with Electronics Watch (EW) in the IT sector to make electronics value chains more transparent by identifying production sites and high-risk factories. EW monitors these factories for compliance with labour and environmental standards and engages in dialogue with workers and communities to understand their concerns and perspectives.

EXAMPLE: Charting emissions hotspots with CHR Hansen's 2030 decarbonisation strategy

CHR Hansen has set Science Based Targets to guide their decarbonisation target towards 2030. Emissions across Scopes 1, 2, and 3 are mapped.13 And a dedicated CO2e measurement tool is used to calculate Scope 3 categories, like purchased goods and services and capital costs. This tool uses emission factors from established databases and supplier data where available. By mapping emissions to sourcing categories, the sourcing teams can locate emission hotspots and apply category and supplier-specific emissions reduction strategies.


¹ "The value chain covers all stages in a product’s life, from supply of raw materials through to disposal after use, and encompasses the activities linked to value creation such as business models, investments and regulation. In addition, the value chain is also comprised of the actors undertaking the activities and the stakeholders that can influence the activities. The value chain thus incorporates not only the physical processes, such as farms and factories, but also the business models and the way products are designed, promoted and offered to consumers.” – United Nations Environmental Programme, 2020



⁵ ESG.Tech provides a database of supply chain mapping tools for different sustainability purposes:







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Deep Supply Chain Mapping

This brief shares the methodologies and interventions that GoodWeave uses to map supply chains fully. Although this brief primarily focuses on child labour, it contains broadly applicable insights into supply chain mapping best practices.

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Trado: New technologies to fund fairer, more transparent supply chains

This report by the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership showcases the Trado model of sustainability data-for-benefit swaps between buyers and suppliers. In this model, buyers help unlock bank financing for suppliers in exchange for information on sustainability.

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Practical Guide to Transparency in Procurement

This guide by the Responsible Business Alliance maps out a range of maturity levels related to meaningful sustainability disclosures. It is designed to be a resource for buyers to assess supplier transparency on sustainability topics.

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Open Supply Hub

The Open Supply Hub collects and structures supply chain data for sustainability. By sharing your data, you gain access to its database of 179,000 facilities and a tool for mapping suppliers geographically.

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This research tool will help you search Tier 1 supplier information based on 70 million US Customs Sea Shipment Records. It can help you map your value chain and/or find peers whom you share suppliers with, which may present opportunities for collaboration.

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Open Supply Chains

This platform, Sourcemap, is the world’s largest database of supply chain maps. You can use it to map your supply chain or see other companies' actions.

Supply Chain Mapping Solutions

These resources are provided as illustrative examples. The mention of specific tools or services on this platform does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the Embedding Project. You should conduct your due diligence and research to determine the suitability of any tool for your particular needs.

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Responsibly [PAY TO USE]

Responsibly automates supplier onboarding, customises sourcing criteria, processes diverse data, calculates performance scores, and integrates insights into your existing procurement systems.

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Sedex provides tools and a data platform to assist businesses in mapping their supply chain, gathering supplier information, and facilitating supplier engagement and onboarding [PAY TO USE]. database [PAY TO USE] cover database [PAY TO USE]

ESG provides a list of Supply Chain Sustainability Software solutions to improve supply chain sustainability.

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Sourcemap [PAY TO USE]

Map and monitor the end-to-end supply chain in line with US and EU due diligence requirements. Issues covered include forced labour, conflict minerals, counter-terrorism, anti-greenwashing, deforestation, and more.

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Interos [PAY TO USE]

Interos' "i-Score" is a platform for assessing supply chain risk during the procurement process. It includes financial, compliance, and environmental factors.