To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Managing sustainability performance through the value‐chain

Fritz Balkau (International Adviser based at Sustainable Solutions, Paris)
Guido Sonnemann (Programme Officer with the United Nations Environment Programme, Paris)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 23 February 2010




Environmental management has not kept pace with the challenges of globalization. Case studies show that life‐cycle management (LCM) can be an important alternative approach in managing sustainability, performance of products and materials along the value‐chain.


The paper analyzes case study models for LCM used in different circumstances. It compares the new forms of governance along the life‐chain, and the coordination of environmental management tools already in widespread use. Strengths and weaknesses are discussed with respect to other CSR methods in current use. The role of life‐cycle assessment (LCA) in prioritizing sustainability issues is highlighted.


Business focuses on supply‐chain management to achieve its sustainability goals. Governments give emphasis to communication rather than legislation. Community and NGO pressure on the commodity resource sector has led to important multi‐stakeholder life‐cycle‐management. These approaches are most effective in a cooperative framework.

Practical implications

The choice of the LCM model depends on the nature of the value‐chain and the sector involved. Companies have made progress in managing longer portions of their value‐chains. However, there is now a need to refine the management instruments used to implement LCM, as many of them were not intended to function at broad levels, for example, globally.


Much attention so far has been given to LCA techniques. The paper looks at management models that can transform LCA into effective action programmes for a higher level of sustainability.



Balkau, F. and Sonnemann, G. (2010), "Managing sustainability performance through the value‐chain", Corporate Governance, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 46-58.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited