Blue North’s services can be broadly defined under five overlapping headings: Strategy Development, Practical Implementation, Supply-chain Improvement, Performance Indicators and Applied Research and Evaluation.

Strategy Development

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The rationale for a business to embark on a sustainability journey and the benefits to the business are often not clearly defined.

We deploy our in-depth knowledge of sustainability within the agricultural and food sectors to develop clear strategies that place sustainability at the heart of the business and build resilience for organisations.

Blue North will assist you to:

  • Clarify the meaning of sustainability in the context of your business
  • Explicitly link the sustainability strategy to short-term and long-term business benefits
  • Develop the required participatory processes and stakeholder engagements
  • Secure buy-in to the strategy, both internally and externally
  • Develop the required processes and tools to support implementation
  • Develop the tools & resources to support communication with internal and external stakeholders

Practical Implementation

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Agricultural and food supply-chains are often comprised of a large number of independent and geographically widespread entities, making them highly complex.

The success of a sustainability strategy is often dependent on the degree to which these entities buy into the strategy and collaborate in its implementation. We have extensive experience in the practical engagement with companies across complex global supply-chains and in supporting them through the step-by-step implementation of sustainability strategies within this context.

Blue North will assist you to:

  • Develop the project plan and project manage the details of a comprehensive implementation process
  • Engage and secure the practical engagement of the other companies within the supply-chain
  • Build the detailed knowledge and understanding within the business and supply-chain necessary to successfully implement the strategy
  • Undertake the translation of technically detailed material and content into required languages

Implement “bottom-up” risk management resources and tools that ensure collaboration and ongoing improvement at farm-level and other levels in the supply-chain

Supply-chain Improvement

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There are significant opportunities to reduce waste, decrease emissions and resource-use, decrease cost and improve the overall economic performance of a supply-chain. The opportunity to capture these sustainability “wins” can easily be missed.

We regard supply-chain improvement as an integral part of a sustainability strategy and deploy our training, knowledge and expertise in value-chain analysis and the implementation of “pull” supply-chains to capture these “wins.”

Blue North will assist you to:

  • Undertake detailed value-chain analysis across supply-chains to understand energy use, resource use and cost-chains etc.
  • Engage with and facilitate processes with parties across the value-chain to identify and action waste, efficiency and cost improvement initiatives
  • Evaluate the benefits of moving from “push” to “pull” modes-of-operation through detailed data analysis and supply-chain simulations using the Symphony software
  • Build the knowledge and understanding within the business and supply-chain to implement “pull” modes-of-operation using the Theory of Constraints (TOC) body of knowledge
  • Implement the Symphony decision-support software used to enable “pull” modes-of-operation ( www.inherentsimplicity.com )

Performance Indicators

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Navigating a business towards a more sustainable and resilient future is reliant on the quality of information and quantitative feedback available to the business and supply-chain.

Blue North has extensive experience in the development and deployment of tools that enable quantitative assessments of a particular aspect of a business (for example carbon emissions), qualitative self-assessments to evaluate the performance of the business strategically and the ongoing tracking of performance over time via objective metrics within “performance dashboards.”

Blue North will assist you to:

  • Undertake detailed evaluation and reporting of key sustainability subjects using approaches such as energy-use audits, carbon-emissions Life Cycle Assessment, water foot-printing and GIS mapping
  • Develop a detailed understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the business to prioritise where it should focus its improvement efforts and define the improvement actions required
  • Collect the data and generate the performance metrics necessary to undertake benchmarking within a peer group and/or to track performance over time
  • Develop data collection tools, databases and reporting functionality necessary to support the reporting required by the business
  • Undertake holistic data analysis of multiple datasets to identify shared risks and opportunities and to guide strategic interventions for shared benefit

Applied Research and Evaluation

Blue North Applied Research And Evaluation

Agricultural development is a critical step to improving the lives of the world’s rural communities. The investment of resources into agriculture and rural development must therefore have the greatest possible impact.

At Blue North, we understand that driving agricultural development can be complex with many factors at play – a project, and its planned intervention, needs to be carefully dissected to critically assess its impact.

Blue North has the expertise to understand and document the changes and impacts associated with a project or programme, to provide feedback on project success and sustainability, and to ensure that evidence-based decisions drive the design of future projects.

Data driven evaluations and impact assessments can also provide a resounding and compelling presentation of evidence of project impacts to donors and investors.

At Blue North, we make use of a conceptual framework to facilitate this understanding and inform data requirements. This is used to develop a range of quantitative metrics, as well as to develop a qualitative impact storyline.

The Blue North evaluation and research team, led by Dr Myles Oelofse, offers research, project evaluation, and review services in the fields of agriculture, environment and rural development.

Find out how these services combine in our projects.