What is the future of sustainable procurement?

Gurjit Degun
10 April 2014

Gurjit Degun © Akin Falope11 April 2014 | Gurjit Degun

Sustainability within supply chains has been an important issue for some time, as more and more companies include corporate social responsibility in their business model.

The Sedex Global conference on responsible sourcing in London on Wednesday highlighted the need for transparency and collaboration if businesses are to successfully reach their sustainability goals.

Sir Mark Moody-Smith, chairman of the Foundation for the Global Compact, said companies should be more open about their business when compiling reports. He said to answer consumers’ questions on sustainability, companies should not shy away from admitting what challenges they are facing, and more often than not the consumer would understand.

He added collaboration should play a key part in the sustainability agenda. But this collaboration should be global and between companies from different sectors as well as governments. This will make it a lot easier for firms to achieve their ambitions for sustainability, he explained.

It looks like transparency and collaboration will be at the heart of the CSR agenda in the coming years. But I couldn’t help but think sustainability may not have been at the forefront of people’s minds, especially when many businesses were trying hard to stay afloat during the tough economic times. 

However, MEP Richard Howitt, European Parliament rapporteur on corporate social responsibility, does not think that this is the case. During the evening reception to celebrate 10 years of Sedex, he said: “Many people said to me that CSR was all very well but the minute we got to tough economic times it would disappear. I have to say there’s many debates in forums saying that the interest in corporate social responsibility and participation has not dropped, it’s increased.”

It’s an interesting point to consider, so maybe procurement leaders should take note of the Hirdaramani Group’s “green factory” in Sri Lanka, which has delivered “dramatic savings in terms of water and energy” costs.


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