In order to understand wider sustainability impacts of consumption and to successfully promote and implement sustainable consumption and production policies, there is a need to capture the whole life-cycle impact of products and services across international supply chains. Multi-region input–output (MRIO) databases are a well described and suitable foundation for global sustainability analyses addressing a wide range of policy and research questions. In this paper we reflect on the reasons for the recent boom in MRIO compilation, summarise the current state of development and discuss future options for MRIO analysis. We list in detail the requirements for efficient and effective MRIO research and propose systemic and institutional changes. We deliberately try to go beyond existing ambitions for MRIO compilation and thus intend to stimulate discussion and to lay out the options for the future of MRIO research.