Purchasing’s role in the future of the planet

29 March 2011
Following on from Shaun’s blog on sustainable procurement yesterday, a white paper published by the European Commission said that supply chains must make more use of rail and water links in future to transport goods. Commission vice president Siim Kallas stressed the importance of Europe increasing the movement of goods, while also cutting emissions. “We can and we must do both,” he said, adding that it was a fallacy that you couldn’t do one without the other. “It can be win–win,” Kallas added. The white paper came as UN Habitat published its Global Report on Human Settlements 2011, Cities and Climate Change: Policy Directions, which said that the world’s cities are responsible for around 70 per cent of emissions, yet occupy only a fraction (2 per cent) of the planet's land cover. As well as the physical risks posed by future climate change, some urban areas would face difficulties providing basic services, according to the report. “These changes will affect water supply, physical infrastructure, transport, ecosystem goods and services, energy provision and industrial production,” it said. The UN Habitat study called on city planners to consider the impact of climate change on an area’s future and ensure they include mitigation measures to reduce energy demand and emissions, as well as improve flood defences. In order to be effective, the report advised these planners to seek the views of local residents and businesses – and I’d suggest perhaps procurement and supply chain professionals should get in on these discussions early too. Not only might it be wise to be involved from a logistical point of view in line with the EC’s vision, but also the supply chain and sustainable procurement expertise they could bring to the planning process could be invaluable.
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