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Prof Olga Martin-Ortega, a finalist in the Green Gown Research with Impact Award and her Scholars in Spotlight Podcast

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Olga and her team have been shortlisted for Equiano, a system to support public buyers in their public recruitment.

Prof Olga Martin-Ortega is a Professor of International Law in our School of Law & Criminology.  Her main research areas are in the field of Public International Law, in particular business and human rights.

In this podcast she talks about the global supply chain, slavery in the 21st century and the human desire to create material at the cost of human dignity and re-imagining the role of powerful organisations.

You can listen to more of our Scholars in Spotlight editions on our blog.

A finalist in the Research with Impact Green Gown Awards

the work of the Business, Human Rights and the Environment Research Group (BHRE) at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, led by Professor Olga Martin-Ortega, to combat modern slavery and human rights violation in global supply chains. Olga and her team partnered with the London Universities Purchasing Consortium (LUPC) and the Local Government Association (LGA) to create a system to support public buyers in their public procurement. 

The system is named after Olaudah Equiano, a writer and abolitionist, originally from Nigeria and former slaved who lived in London in the 1780s and was, after purchasing his freedom in 1766, one of the leaders of the anti-slave trade movement.

Equiano is a low-cost alternative to private systems to conduct human rights due diligence in supply chains. It is a collaborative research-based effort, the first and only of its kind, designed for public buyers to engage with suppliers in order to assess human rights risks of those who make the products and provide the services that they procure. It is distinctive in that it is tailored to the public sector. Its innovative approach results from a marked element of supplier engagement and through this interaction a deepening of the relationship between public buyer and supplier to understand the risks and design solutions in partnership. 

A main focus was to transfer knowledge and capacity both within the research team (from senior members to students) and from academics to professionals – public buyers and suppliers - and viceversa. Through this work BHRE members were able to better comprehend the impact of its theoretical research on human rights in supply chains and how it is applicable in the context of public procurement and LUPC and LGA members, participating public buyers and suppliers learnt of the legal and ethical responsibilities of the public and private sector with regards to those in their supply chain.

This unique collaboration we believe has transformed the way the public sector thinks and acts on their roles and responsibilities towards those in its supply chain, and is a key step to sustainable and responsible public consumption.

The results of the Green Gown Awards are announced in November, good luck to Olga and her team.