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ISO 20400 - The New International Standard for Sustainable Procurement

NEW - we are running open access training workshop courses on ISO 20400 in  September and October. Click here for more information and to register

“Action Sustainability’s training on ISO 20400 gave me new insight on the standard and solid, implementable skills and advice for further embedding our sustainable procurement practices” – Martin Ratcliffe, Procurement Manager, Hammerson plc

The new Standard for Sustainable Procurement ISO 20400 was approved for publication in December 2016 - and Action Sustainability was right at the heart of its development representing the UK on the Committee.  Action Sustainability’s Shaun McCarthy and Cathy Berry were the only two expert members of the UK delegation and Shaun McCarthy was one of only nine people in the world to participate in every day of every meeting over the four year life of the committee.  It will be published in April 2017.


ISO 20400 represents best practice in sustainable procurement.  It builds on and supersedes the British Standard BS 8903, for which Action Sustainability were lead technical authors. 

If you are currently working towards BS 8903 and want to know how the new Standard compares, click here to read our short document that compares the two Standards. 

For your organisation to be truly sustainable, resilient and able to maintain business continuity, you need to consider and address the risks and opportunities in your supply chain. Working towards ISO20400 can frame how you do this. And Action Sustainability is here to support you.


Following the Standard’s principles will guide the user through all the key aspects of creating and implementing a sound approach to sustainable procurement. The standard incorporates the most recent developments in sustainability thinking including the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business and ISO 26000. And it compliments existing standards like ISO 14001 and ISO 9001.  Importantly it is applicable to organisations in any sector of any size. 

Building on this experience and expertise, Action Sustainability are in an ideal position to support you on your journey to more sustainable procurement practices, in alignment to the Standard, with services such as:    

  1. Training of your staff on how to embed sustainability into day-to-day procurement;
  2. Assessment of your current performance against the Standard with recommendations for areas of improvement;
  3. Development of your policies, procedures and codes of conduct;
  4. Evaluating the risk and opportunities in your supply chain, and approaches to dealing with them;
  5. Engagement with your supply chain, employing our experience in delivering the Supply Chain School; and
  6. Measuring your sustainability performance against your objectives and targets, employing our unique, cloud-based Performance Tool if applicable

Having provided sustainable procurement support to clients such as Skanska, Molson Coors, Cobham and Network Rail, we are the right partners to help you address the risks and opportunities within your supply chain.


No matter where you are on your journey to more sustainable procurement, Action Sustainability can help you do it more efficiently, do it better. Email James at or give us a call on 020 7697 1977.



Here is some more detail on the kinds of services our experienced team can provide to help you transform your supply chain's contribution to your sustainability objectives.

Support on Procurement Fundamentals, Policy & Strategy

  • Lead workshops to assess key drivers for sustainability in your organisation and how they play into procurement policy.
  • Write, review and revise Sustainable Procurement Policies, Strategies, Charters and Supplier Code of Conduct.
  • Link your corporate strategic objectives and goals to an effective sustainable supply chain management strategy
  • Undertake benchmark assessments against your peers
  • Interaction with the Board to get their understanding and support.
  • Train staff to understand the importance of sustainability to organisational success
  • Undertake BS 8903 assessment across whole of the framework for sustainable procurement and provide recommendations for improvement

Support on Enablers

  • Training sessions for procurement and non-procurement staff, e.g. designers/ specifiers, project managers on the reasons for and how you incorporate sustainability into procurement.
  • Workshops for procurement teams on strategic aspects of sustainability,  e.g. heatmapping risk assessments.
  • Development of specific e-learning resources for staff on sustainability topics.
  • Development of metrics & KPIs and analysis of progress to build the evidence of increasing sustainability in supply chains
  • Drafting of sustainable supply chain sections for Corporate Reporting and website.
  • Developing recruitment profiles and personal objectives containing sustainability
  • Support for ‘Meet the Buyer’ events with suppliers.

Support on Procurement Process

  • Guidance with procurement staff on how to embed sustainability further in their day-to-day procurement work.
  • Assessments of suppliers and products in the market place for their level of sustainability.
  • Support on developing tender specifications, criteria and evaluation processes
  • Developing approaches to sustainability at Category Management level
  • Market research into product / material supplier sustainability
  • Advice on product (eco-) labelling and 'green claims'

We aim to lead and inspire sustainable supply chain management