Integrating sustainability into procurement

Integrating sustainability into procurement

How can sustainability objectives be built into procurement?

Secondary objectives

Although the aim of procurement is the achievement of value for money, and not the delivery of sustainable development policy, there is much that can be done to address sustainability issues by building relevant sustainability objectives (or ‘secondary’ objectives’) into contracts. Examples of ‘secondary’ objectives include the following:

There are a number of different strategies for integrating secondary objectives into procurement. A summary is given in the following table with an assessment of the perceived concerns, risk and performance of each:

Source: after Watermeyer (2004)

Target procurement for achievement of secondary objectives

Targeted procurement

  • One method that has proven successful in integrating and subsequently achieving secondary objectives is ‘Targeted Procurement’ whereby a demand is created for the services and supplies of, or to secure the participation of, targeted enterprises and targeted labour in contracts, in direct response to the objectives of an overarching policy (see ISO 10845-1)

  • By incentivising the active engagement of tenderers through demonstrating and quantifying the benefits achievable in their proposal against carefully designed criteria, chances of successful implementation are enhanced

  • Contract participation goals may focus on targets for labour (i.e. amounts spent on wages and allowances paid to specified labour types) and/or targets for enterprise involvement as sub-contractors, or in joint-ventures (receipts for work or services performed or for the provision of goods for a contract)

  • Goals may also be extended to apply for environmental objectives, though the predominant agenda of socio-economic development in less-industrialised countries means that most examples fall under this category

Case Studies

Soweto's Contractor Development Programme
International Labour Organisation - labour-based road construction manual
Smallholder Enterprise Development and Marketing Programme (SHEMP), Zambia

Further reading

  • Watermeyer, R (2004) Unpacking Transparency in Government Procurement – Rethinking WTO Government Procurement Agreements
  • Traidcraft Exchange (2007) Taking the Lead: A guide to more responsible procurement practices, Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply
  • EAP/ ICE (2006) Modifying infrastructure procurement to enhance social development
  • Sustainability Action Group of the Government Construction Clients’ Panel (GCCP) (2000) Achieving Sustainability in Construction Procurement, Sustainability Action Plan
  • EAP (2008) Increasing local content in the procurement of infrastructure projects in low income countries
  • ISO 10845-1, Construction Procurement – Part 1: Processes, procedures and methods