Can the SDGs provide a basis for supply chain decisions in the construction sector?
The Construction sector is characterised by complex supply networks delivering unique end products over short time scales. Sustainability has increased in importance but continues to be difficult to implement in this sector; thus, new approaches and practices are needed. This paper reports an empirical investigation into the value of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Sustainable Consumption and Production (SDG12), when used as a framework for action by organisations to drive change towards sustainability in global supply networks. Through inductive research, two different and contrasting approaches to improving the sustainability of supply networks have been revealed. One approach focuses on the "bottom up" ethical approach typified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification of timber products, and the other on "top-down" regulations exemplified by the UK Modern Slavery Act. In an industry noted for complex supply networks and characterised by adversarial relationships, the findings suggest that, in the long term, promoting shared values aligned with transparent, third-party monitoring will be more effective than imposing standards through legislation and regulation in supporting sustainable consumption and production.