ISO 20400 – Bureau Veritas and CDP Explore The New Standard for Sustainable Procurement


In a new whitepaper, Bureau Veritas and CDP have collaborated to provide a detailed overview of ISO 20400 – The New Standard of Sustainable Procurement. (see below)

Today’s supply chains are global, highly complex and significant in scale. For many industries the production of raw materials, components and finished products has shifted from industrialised nations to developing countries, which has been driven by the opportunity to drive down costs associated with wages and raw materials. Industries have also taken advantage of the environmental and labour laws in developing countries, which are less stringent than in developed nations. This globalisation of supply has given rise to major social and environmental crises across a range of industries, and as a consequence, organisations have come under mounting pressure to develop sustainable ways of working in the supply chain. In tandem, rising consumer awareness of social, environmental and ethical impacts in supply chains have been impacting brand choices and loyalty more than ever before.

The ISO 20400 procurement standard enables companies to make more informed choices by implementing a strategy to assess the sustainability credentials of suppliers, products and services.

Organisations have traditionally focused on reducing their own direct impacts. However, given that most companies’ greatest sustainability risks and opportunities lie in their supply chains, many are now looking beyond their immediate boundaries and are implementing strategies to help improve their supply chain performance, with varying degrees of success. Indeed, the reality is that many companies continue to lack the resources to effectively identify and manage the sustainability risks and opportunities within their supply chains.

The Power of Procurement

Embedding sustainability thinking within procurement can be a powerful tool for bringing about positive change across organisations’ supply chains, but until recently, the lack of a harmonised framework for doing so has been identified as a major barrier to progress.

Whilst there are no universally-effective approaches to taking action in this area, there is now a growing awareness of the strategies and types of actions that can be successful in promoting and developing sustainable procurement, and by extension, supply chain sustainability.

Enter ISO 20400 – Sustainable Procurement

Although the concept of sustainable procurement has been around for some time, until now organisations adopting related practices have defined the concept as they saw fit. Indeed, in the absence of a globally recognised and accepted framework, methods across companies and regions have been inconsistent.

ISO 20400 is a game changer: it levels the playing field by standardising definitions and providing a set of robust approaches that all organisations – irrespective of sector or size – can adopt to implement sustainable procurement.

ISO 20400 is a game changer…

As the world’s first major international standard on sustainable procurement, ISO 20400 provides a framework for organisations to implement sustainability objectives through their procurement functions. The standard enables companies to make more informed choices by establishing a sustainable procurement policy and implementing a strategy to assess the sustainability credentials of suppliers, products and services. It is designed to apply to any organisation, regardless of its sector, size and location, and to all stakeholders involved in or impacted by procurement decisions and processes.

Matyas Lukucs

The overarching benefit of aligning with ISO 20400 is that the standard helps to create common objectives for the procurement and CSR functions to facilitate positive sustainability outcomes, both within the organisation and across the supply chain. The guidance can help mitigate risks and unlock financial, environmental, social, and regulatory opportunities. In addition, sustainable procurement and supply chain management initiatives are recognised across sustainability indices and reporting frameworks and as such, companies are likely to benefit from added reputational gains.

In a newly-launched white paper ‘The Road to Sustainable Procurement with ISO 20400’, sustainability experts from Bureau Veritas and CDP provide a detailed overview of the standard and its benefits, explore how it aligns with CDP submissions, and offer a reference guide to organisations to gauge where they are on their sustainable procurement journeys. Click here to download the publication.
Matyas Lukucs works as a Sustainability Consultant at Bureau Veritas in London, England, and specialises in providing assurance and consulting services to an international client base.