It is timely on this World Day of Social Justice for CourtHeath to blog about some of the latest developments in sustainable procurement.
Indeed, it was quite some time ago that we blogged about a growing trend towards social procurement. Since that time social procurement in government across the globe has become increasingly popular, and in April last year ISO 20400: Sustainable Procurement was released.
It is important to note that the standard applies a broad definition to ‘sustainability’ and is not limited to environmental factors as you might expect. Indeed, the standard notes that the environment, social and economic aspects interact and are often referred to as the three dimensions of sustainability. During this year, CourtHeath will be presenting a number of blogs on various aspects of sustainable procurement with this blog introducing the new ISO.
The International Organisation for Standardization advises that: ‘Sustainable procurement entails making purchasing decisions that meet an organisation’s needs in a way that benefits them, society and the environment. It involves ensuring that a company’s suppliers behave ethically, that the products and services purchased are sustainable and that such purchasing decisions help to address social, economic and environmental issues.’
Jacques Schramm, Chair of ISO/PC 277, the project committee that developed the standard, says the benefits of sustainable procurement can be far-reaching. “It is no longer enough for businesses to rely on suppliers to provide them with what they want, no questions asked. Organisations benefit greatly from getting to know their suppliers –understanding what their requirements are as well – to ensure their demands are not unrealistic and that the suppliers they work with have good, ethical practices,” he explains.
While the standard is a guidance standard rather than a certification standard (that is, you cannot be certified as being compliant with ISO 20400: Sustainable Procurement), it is broadly applicable to any type of organisation, public and private, including here in Australia. The standard is made up of seven sections, the final four being the substantive sections with each directed to a slightly different audience from ‘Top Management’ to those with the responsibility for day to day procurement functions.
The first substantive section of the standard is aimed broadly and, as implied by its name ‘Understanding the Fundamentals’, deals with the basics of social procurement. It outlines the principles, core subjects and drivers for sustainable procurement, while making some interesting points about risk, priority setting, exercising influence and avoiding complicity.
The section directed at ‘Top Management’: ‘Integrating sustainability into the organisation’s procurement policy and strategy’ endorses a top-down approach to sustainability commitment by embedding it into organisational culture, objectives, goals, strategy and policies.
Stakeholders and priority setting are a central theme of the section tailored to procurement managers, with particular regard to the supply chain.
The final, and most detailed, substantive section is for people performing procurement. While much of what is covered in the section may already be incorporated into organisational procurement policies, it recognises that procurement professionals are not necessarily sustainability professionals and that ‘relevant sustainability issues require a multidisciplinary approach.’
Through sustainable procurement, businesses and governments can play their role in promoting social justice principles of peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations; a key premise of this World Day of Social Justice.
See CourtHeath’s video and blog for background on World Social Justice Day.
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A participant in the UN Global Compact, CourtHeath seeks to raise awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals and the principles of the Global Compact with business and government organisations in Victoria.
IMAGE: Used under licence from shutterstock.com
Julia Cornwell McKean.
[category courtheath's blog]
socialjustice, sustainableprocurement, anticorruption