In December 2016 the committee developing the ISO 20400 standard finally finished four years of painstaking work to develop a robust standard for sustainable procurement. The standard was published in April 2017 with various events around the world to celebrate the launch.
I led the UK delegation of the committee and have since sponsored and hosted a free global knowledge sharing platform www.iso20400.org. The international steering committee behind this platform commissioned this report to gain some insight into how the standard has been used and what lessons we may learn from the experience.
My thanks go to Ross Primmer for his diligent research and to the many people who supported him by taking part in interviews.
So, what have we learned? The first important lesson is the standard works as a practical framework to deliver sustainable procurement regardless of country, culture, sector, or business size. This is a great compliment to those people who worked for many hours over a four-year period to reach international consensus about what works and what does not. ISO 20400 is a guidance standard that cannot be certified, many users find this approach refreshing, others would like to see a certificate on the wall. This debate will doubtless continue as the standard reaches its
The emphasis on sustainability around the world has amplified many times since the standard was published and the realisation that most things, that most organisations deliver are done through supply chains is becoming more and more apparent.
This report also concludes that more must be done to inform, educate and inspire people to understand how they manage their supply chains in a different way. We all have a responsibility to do this. Big purchasers need to lead the way and those providing education, training and professional qualifications need to help people to understand that the proven methodology recommended by this standard can make a difference to the world we live in.
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