The Road to Sustainable Procurement with ISO 20400

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Making business sustainable is an evolutionary process, and integrating new thinking into ‘business as usual’ takes time and patience. However, it does happen: many ideas and initiatives previously thought of as innovative and ground-breaking have now become mainstream for the majority of large companies worldwide. Examples of this include measuring and standardising operational carbon emissions, defining natural capital and enforcing transparency on human rights and corruption through corporate governance efforts. 


Embedding sustainability within corporate supply chains is heading in the same direction. Over the past decade, increasing the transparency of supply chains and implementing good management practices in relation to their environmental, social and ethical impacts has quickly risen on companies’ agendas. If not addressed, supply chain impacts can present major business risks, but if acted upon with the right approach, significant business opportunities exist. 


Many sustainability, supply chain, and procurement professionals and practitioners have contributed their time and expertise to the development of various approaches, initiatives and programmes to further the development of best practices in this field, which has been invaluable for organisations looking to take action. However, up until now these efforts have been fragmented and the difficulty has been consolidating them into a meaningful, standardised approach. 


For this reason, the new ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement Guidance Standard is a welcome resource for the profession – the importance of having a standard that companies can be assessed or benchmarkedagainst cannot be stressed enough. It enables companies to gauge how well they are performing in terms of their sustainable procurement policy, strategy and management practices. 


This whitepaper is a product of a partnership between CDP and global sustainability solutions body Bureau Veritas, combining two independent expert perspectives in an overview of the new standard. We welcome the contribution which the new ISO Standard will make to the continuing evolution of sustainability in corporate supply chains and have designed this whitepaper as a useful ‘go-to’ resource for practitioners looking to embed sustainable procurement practices into their business operations by following the ISO 20400 framework.


- Dexter Galvin, Global Head of CDP Supply Chain


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