On the role of regional hubs in the environmental sustainability of humanitarian supply chains

Mohammad Hossein Zarei, Ruth Carrasco‐Gallego, Stefano Ronchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In spite of strong commitment of humanitarian and development communities with the protection of our planet, expressed through the Sustainable Development Goals in the Agenda 2030, environmental sustainability still remains an overlooked aspect in humanitarian supply chains (HSCs). Using a collaborative mixed‐methods research with an international humanitarian organization, this paper sheds light on the causes of unsustainable operations in HSCs and investigates the impact of regional hubs on the environmental sustainability. First, an in‐depth focus group was conducted involving the organization's employees and the research team to identify the main causes contributing to unsustainable HSC in the organization. Five categories of causes were identified, namely, supply chain configuration (SCC), transportation, donors, material and waste, and humanitarian specificities. Then, based on respondents' prioritization, SCC was selected as the most important category. Carbon footprinting for three SCC scenarios was conducted: the current SCC and two conceptual SCC with two hubs in East and West Africa with different replenishment windows. The results reveal that the SCCs with hubs outperform the current SCC in terms of carbon footprint. Finally, the challenges of implementing the conceptual SCCs and possible solutions to address them were discussed through follow‐up individual interviews.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)846-859
Number of pages14
JournalSustainable Development
Issue number5
Early online date3 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • environmental sustainability
  • focus group
  • green
  • hub
  • humanitarian logistics
  • humanitarian supply chain
  • mixed-methods research
  • supply chain configuration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Development

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