The MoD's green shoots of sustainability

6 April 2010
Last week, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) published its sustainable procurement strategy, setting out ways in which the armed forces and their equipment can become greener. Under the plan, MoD buyers will be required to embrace sustainable development in all areas and stages of procurement, particularly in projects concerning renewable and sustainable energy. This will help reduce fuel and “through-life” costs of equipment, as well as making equipment more energy efficient, so helping to cut operational risk by reducing the number of deliveries to the field, the MoD said. The strategy was published just a week after a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report slammed the MoD for being “overly optimistic” about the defence budget deficit, which is estimated to be as high as £36 billion. In response, shadow defence secretary Liam Fox called for “root and branch” procurement overhaul. Criticism of buying at the MoD and tales of frontline troops being poorly equipped are all too familiar, which raises a few questions. How will the sustainable purchasing strategy get off the ground when the basics still need work? Should the MoD concentrate on making sure the fundamental needs of the armed forces are met before looking towards becoming more sustainable? Or does buying better entail buying greener?
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