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ISO 20400 – The new International Standard for Sustainable Procurement

May 03, 2017

The first and only international standard for sustainable procurement (ISO 20400) was launched on 20th April 2017. The process of sustainable procurement is one whereby a company ensures that the purchase of goods and services minimises negative impacts and encourages positive outcomes for the environment, economy and society. The purchasing decisions a company makes have far-reaching implications, from the energy suppliers it chooses to the quality of life of the workers who manufactured the items it buys. Sustainable procurement necessitates intelligent choices for all purchases from coffee for corporate hospitality to office supplies, from services to building materials. It is also a key aspect of Corporate Social Responsibility, but until now there have been few international guidelines. Using ISO 20400 should help companies achieve their sustainability objectives and be able to evidence these to potential buyers of their services. Consumer expectations are rising. They worry about climate change, expect transparency in the supply chain and want to know that the people working within a supply chain are not inadvertently supporting modern slavery or being exploited. ISO20400 is particularly well supported, with 38 participating countries and 14 observing countries, which represents 65% of the world’s population, 85% of world GDP and 73% of world carbon emissions. The work of four years, it has been designed to be a standard for all nations and cultures and is backed by the UN, OECD and ITUC.

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