ISO 20400, Sustainability, Sustainable Procurement

Sustainable Procurement ISO 20400

At the Sustainable Brands New Metrics ’18 in Philadelphia last month, I spoke about sustainable procurement. In particular, I discussed Sustainable Procurement ISO 20400.

City Hall
Philadelphia City Hall



Few people in the audience knew of the relatively new Sustainable Procurement ISO 20400 standard. As a result, I want to spread the word!

Why is a sustainable procurement standard so important? Sustainable procurement reduces risks associated with negative impacts (e.g., human rights, pollution) in your supply chain. It can highlight opportunities to prevent supply disruptions and foster communications with vendors. Your reputation and leadership can be improved by establishing sustainable purchasing policies.

Whether you work for a for-profit, nonprofit, or government agency, your organization buys things. Some organizations buy more than others and focus on short-term cost reductions. Attending to your purchasing beyond the concern for short-term costs matters. You may say you do not manufacture products but provide only services. Purchasing involves so much more than just raw material purchases because it includes buildings, janitorial supplies, equipment, and office supplies.

Does your organization need a systematic approach to sustainable procurement policies?  Do you evaluate human rights and ethical behavior in selecting a supplier? How do you get top management to support sustainable procurement? How do you start or how do you improve your approach? Find answers to these questions in ISO 20400.

It is not a requirements standard but a set of guidelines for incorporating sustainability into an organization’s purchasing processes. Any organization of any size can use this. The topic areas include:

  1. Fundamentals – core principles of sustainability and sustainable procurement
  2. Policy and strategy – ways of adapting sustainability and sustainable procurement into policy and procurement context
  3. Organization – conditions (e.g., governance, leadership, personnel, and engagement) needed for sustainable procurement
  4. Procurement – process example provided to help create greater sustainability in supply chain


Hope you find this useful!