ISO 20400: Background and definition of the international standard for sustainable procurement

ISO 20400
March 17th, 2020
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The ISO 20400 international standard for sustainable procurement provides guidance to organisations on integrating sustainability into their procurement processes.

In this post, you will find the answers to all of your ISO 20400 questions:

What is the background behind the ISO 20400 standard?

Every organisation has an environmental, social and economic impact. In this context, procurement has a major role to play as it can have a huge influence over these three areas. Broadly speaking, by integrating sustainability into their strategies and procurement policies, companies can make a significant contribution to sustainable development, as defined in the goals set by the United Nations.

To support international organisations in these efforts, ISO (International Organisation for Standardization) published the ISO 20400 standard for sustainable procurement in April 2017.

In the introduction to the official text, ISO highlights the main challenges associated with integrating sustainability: "Sustainable procurement represents an opportunity to provide more value to the organisation by improving productivity, assessing value and performance, enabling communication between purchasers, suppliers and all stakeholders, and by encouraging innovation". »

How can the ISO 20400 standard be defined?

The aim of the ISO 20400 international standard for sustainable procurement is to provide guidance to public or private organisations, independent of their activity or size, on integrating sustainability into their procurement processes.

This standard therefore provides a starting point for stakeholders involved in and/or impacted by procurement, by giving them an understanding of sustainable procurement and how it can be implemented.

The official text addresses seven major themes:

  1. Scope
  2. Normative references
  3. Terms and definitions (circular economy, due diligence, ethical behaviour etc.)
  4. Understanding the fundamentals: concept, principles, key considerations etc.
  5. Integrating sustainability into the organisation's procurement policy and strategy: alignment with company objectives, managing implementations etc.
  6. Organising the procurement function towards sustainability: identifying and engaging stakeholders, setting priorities, measuring performance etc.
  7. Integrating sustainability into the procurement process: planning, integrating sustainability requirements into specifications, selecting suppliers, managing contracts etc.

Organisations that are ISO 20400-compliant support sustainable development and therefore make a positive contribution to society and the economy.