“Environmental Sustainability”, “Green Procurement”, and “Sustainability in Procurement” are examples of the relatively recent increase in consciousness of the impact on the environment of many long-standing procurement processes and attitudes and seek to remediate past inadequacies.

All the examples share the desirable goal of ensuring that all steps in the procurement cycle (including disposal) for goods and services used by organizations reflect a social consciousness as to the impact of the operations on the environment. That includes impact on workers at all stages in the chain of supply and disposal. It also includes, wherever one can, ensuring sustainability of resources and resourcing at all stages in the chain of supply and disposal.

Much work has been put into sustainability in procurement by a large number of people and organizations.

One of those is the International Standards Organization (ISO) which has, for many years, been a representative body of national standards organizations. ISO seeks to bring “together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges” .

With that sort of aim, one can have no real objection.

In 2010, ISO published ISO 26000 as its first international standard set of guidelines for social responsibility.

Building on ISO 26000 in 2017, after much discussion and consultation, ISO published ISO 20400 to provide guidance to “organizations, independent of their activity or size, on integrating sustainability within procurement,”.

It is aimed at all stakeholders involved in or affected by procurement decisions and processes.

As always with great ideas, the real difficulty is to do with implementation and adoption.

Highly desirable although the guidance aims of ISO 20400 are, in my view it is a pity that the cost of acquisition of a copy of the text may hinder its dissemination and implementation.

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