Beefing up supply chain transparency

Editor's note: The following article first appeared on the Vizzuality blog at Medium.com. There is also an interesting article about Trase's evolution on the website Core Sector Communiqué.

When Trase first launched, people were stunned by its unprecedented insight into the global trade of Brazilian soy. Now, just four months later, a major update that includes the addition of new countries and commodities takes us another step closer to uncovering the supply chains that are driving deforestation of tropical forests.

Stitching together production, trade and customs data, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and Global Canopy Programme (GCP) have produced detailed maps of the flow of beef and soy from Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. With an aim to help companies, financial institutions and governments understand the social and environmental impacts of the global trade in agricultural commodities, Trace is connecting each link in the supply chain, from source to port.

“We see Trase as the start of a data-driven revolution in supply chain transparency,” says Javier Godar, a founder of Trase, Stockholm Environment Institute. “By revealing links between supply chain actors and producer regions for the entire exported crop, it can help catalyse improvements across the board: in production practices, procurement and investment policies, and the governance of supply chains by both producer and consumer governments.”

The speed at which this new update has arrived is testament to SEI and GCP’s relentless work to make data more accessible and transparent. We love this commitment and are proud to support SEI and GCP as they continue to put data into the public domain in a way that’s usable and interactive. It’s this combination of being both accessible and useful that makes the information so transparent.

Over the next five years, Trase aims to cover 70% of total production in major forest-risk commodities; by visualising this information, everyone will have access to the data they need to monitor and improve supply chain sustainability. Each time the data gets updated, we’ll match it step by step with advances in the interface that visualises the supply chains. It’s this constant cycle of reflection and improvement that creates the space in which people can find the information that catalyses change.

In this update, the website has been made easier to navigate and the interaction between the sankey diagram and map is faster and more seamless. But, the new feature that’s likely to please people the most is the option to download all the data as a csv file. This was the most demanded request and we’re thrilled that SEI and GCP have given everyone access to the raw data so they can carry out their own analyses.

We’re already excited for the next update and can’t wait to receive more feedback on how we can make the data even more transparent and useful for people.