• The UN operates to achieve the goals of peace, equality, sustainable development and respect for human rights. The way the UN manages its operations and procures should reflect these goals by providing clear signals to the market in favor of sustainability, innovation, and the promotion of cleaner and more socially responsible products and services.

    With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN system has been called to internalize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), across policy, operational and administrative aspects.

    Under SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, the specific target 12.7 refers to the need to “Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities” clearly pointing at public procurement as one of the strategies towards the achievement of the SDGs.

    Procurement can be seen as a “soft” governance mechanism to encourage markets to produce more sustainable products, and contribute to global efforts working to achieve resource efficiency, tackle climate change and address social issues ranging from human rights and gender equality, to decent work and employment.

    Sustainable procurement is not about “burdening” the market with extra requirements; rather it is a well-defined strategy that gradually phases in sustainable requirements in tenders and bids, promotes dialogue and open communication between the suppliers and procurers.

  • Procurement is called sustainable when it integrates requirements, specifications and criteria that are compatible
    and in favour of the protection of the environment, of social progress and in support of economic development,
    namely by seeking resource efficiency, improving the quality of products and services and ultimately optimizing costs.

  • Since April 2017, sustainable procurement is also addressed under a global standard; that is the ISO 20400. This is globally the first international standard for sustainable procurement, acknowledging sustainable procurement as a key aspect of social responsibility, and thus it comes to complement ISO 26000, Guidance on social responsibility. In comparison to other ISO standards, ISO 20400 is not a certification standard; meaning that public or private organization cannot become ISO 20400 certified. It rather aims to provide harmonized, international guidelines that can be applied universally, and in sufficient detail, in order to help organizations to develop and implement sustainable purchasing practices and policies. The ISO 20400 standard can be found on https://www.iso.org/standard/63026.html


  • Resources for Suppliers

    The procurement function links the UN to the market. The United Nations are already committed to encourage suppliers to adhere to the principles of respect of human rights and environmental protection.

    The UN supplier code of conduct, expresses the overarching values that the UN expects its suppliers to achieve. UN suppliers are encouraged to get acquainted with these principles and to strive to continuously improve their business practices.

    With the work that has been achieved done during the last years at a regulatory level by governments around the world, as well as various private sector corporate social responsibility initiatives, markets are now“more prepared”than ever to respond the increased demand for more sustainable products and services, especially by public authorities. However, not all markets are at the same level of readiness when it comes to pursuing sustainable procurement.

    UN initiatives such as the Global Compact and the Resource Efficient & Cleaner Production (RECP) programme offer private companies practical support and assistance to support them in establishing their stance on sustainability.

  • United Nations Global Compact (UNGC)

    UN organisations expect their suppliers to support the UNGC and its principles. By incorporating the Global Compact principles into strategies, policies and procedures, and establishing a culture of integrity, companies are not only upholding their basic responsibilities to people and planet, but also setting the stage for long-term success.

    The UNGC was launched by UN Headquarters in 2006 as a voluntary international corporate citizenship network to support both the private sector and other social actors’ participation in the advancement of responsible corporate citizenship and universal social and environmental principles to meet the challenges of globalization.

    The UNGC requests companies to embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption, known as the 10 principles of the UNGC, which derive from: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.


    More information can be found on www.unglobalcompact.org



  • What is Sustainable Procurement?


    Key Document

    For more information, you may read the Sustainable Procurement Statement by the High-Level Committee on Management Procurement Network (HLCM-PN):

  • Resources for UN staff members
    Restricted area only for UN staff members
  • The Sustainability Procurement Portfolio Model
    The SPPM establishes visibility on sustainability risk in procurement portfolios and allows development of procurement strategies to optimize sustainability outcomes.
  • The UN Sustainable Procurement Statistics
    As part of the Annual Statistical Report (ASR), UN organizations report on the extent to which sustainability considerations have been integrated into their procurement processes.
  • The Sustainable Procurement Indicators
    Information about the 12 indicators that allow to systematically monitor, measure and report on sustainable procurement within the UN system.