14 June 2007 | Paul Snell
Public sector buyers need more leadership to implement sustainable procurement, according to an industry expert.
Jonathon Porritt, chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), told delegates at a conference in London yesterday that sustainable procurement needs to be enforced from the top.
"There has been a lack of sustainable procurement leadership. There is just not enough affirmation of people saying they want this delivered," he said.
Porritt, who was also a member of the Sustainable Procurement Task Force, added he was happy the SDC would be appraising permanent secretaries and department chief executives on their sustainable procurement performance. "There is a lot of nervousness about this - and so there bloody well should be," he said.
He repeated sustainable procurement was "no longer an optional extra you might bolt on. It is non-negotiable." And he said procurement was an issue to demonstrate commitment to sustainability. "Getting procurement right is the single most important thing the government could do to 'walk the talk'," he said.
He urged buyers to take more account of sustainability in the tendering process. "I work with some seriously big companies who are so frustrated that sustainable procurement is a small part of the tendering process, or the director is not smart enough to recognise the value of this."