Procurement Is the Ultimate Guardian of Responsible Supply Chains

Published January 27, 2020

Category: ESG | Procurement

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Written by: Thomas Udesen
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Thomas Udesen

As Chief Procurement Officer of Bayer, Thomas leads the company's dynamic procurement organization that aims to be next-in-class in business partnering, category management, supplier management and digital processes. Thomas is the Co-Founder of The Sustainable Procurement Pledge as he is a firm believer that our prime responsibility is to leave our home, our ONE planet, in the same condition as it was entrusted us. It is his view that procurement is mission critical to ensure sustainable supply chains, so he's passionate about making sure that we leave the right legacy. 

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Imagine a world where all people thrive within the environmental boundaries of our planet. Picture a planet where the immediate threat of climate disaster has been avoided and where global businesses have evolved their business models to support a responsible and low-carbon economy.

Whilst is seems a bit far-fetched looking at today’s realities, we fundamentally believe this world vision is possible and millions of procurement professionals worldwide are mission-critical in making this come true.

The Sustainable Procurement Pledge offers a community and a starting point for anybody in procurement to declare their personal commitment to making a difference and changing their sphere of influence right now.

Changing the World Bottom-up

The idea was ignited by the Global Climate Strike on September 20, 2019. What a powerful message! Children and adults from all walks of life made a clear statement, and we were all reminded about our prime responsibility: Leave our home, our ONE planet, in the same condition as it had been entrusted to us.  

At the same time, the Fridays for Future initiative also provided an obvious clue to the fundamental question on how we can accelerate change to have an immediate impact — start with ourselves!

There are many very good and profound sustainability initiatives, commitments and legislations, all involving companies, governments and institutions. But rarely have we seen professional initiatives that are personally addressed to individuals. Yet, as procurement professionals, we are holding an incredible decision power that many of our colleagues may not yet realize. Using our discretionary decision power for good drives many small changes that ultimately lead to a big change.

The Sustainable Procurement Pledge

Recognizing the power of the crowd, the idea to create a Sustainable Procurement Pledge (#SPP) was born. We wanted it to be a very inclusive pledge in which anybody involved in procurement activities around the globe could find themselves and engage — from intern to CPO, from student to professor, from buyer to supplier.

Leapfrogging Current Efforts

We wanted the pledge to be complimentary to existing sustainability initiatives. Responsible supply chains are in a space where we all need to collaborate. Combining the top-down initiatives with our bottom-up approach provides us all with the best chance to have a real impact.

The Purpose of #SPP is to support all procurement individuals across the world to use their decision power for good, ensuring that the UN Sustainable Development Goals of ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity will be met by 2030.

If each of us takes responsibility for our own procurement conduct, we can tackle the small things as well as change our way of thinking, reflecting and acting. If we all incorporate sustainability aspects into our decision matrix, then the sum of these small changes will make a huge impact on our world. Every procurement decision is a ballot! So, let us make it visible to the world and become ambassadors for sustainable procurement.

Increasing Awareness for Sustainability and its Importance in Procurement

What we would like to achieve with the Sustainable Procurement Pledge is to increase the awareness for sustainability and its importance in procurement.

The pledge contains five statements derived from the 10 principles of the UN Global Compact and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Subscribing ambassadors commit themselves to stand up for people and the planet, to work together to change the world, to start with themselves, to share knowledge and listen to others. Collaborating together, we can leave the right legacy of protecting a sustainable planet for us and future generations.

With the Sustainable Procurement Pledge, we wanted to lay the foundation and invite others to further develop, commit, act and share the pledge in their personal networks. Since its go-live on October 18, more than 700 ambassadors have joined the Sustainable Procurement Ambassador LinkedIn group, an open space to collect and share ideas of good practices and life hacks for more responsible procurement aspects. Here, we initiate and foster a dialogue about responsible procurement and want to involve as many people in the procurement sector as possible to join forces and make a real impact on the ground.

Concrete Actions We Can All Take

We trust that everyone knows best which small and big things he or she can change to make an impact on responsible procurement.

Obviously, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to solve the world’s most pressing topic. However, we strongly believe in our #SPP ambassadors and the power and creativity of the crowd to develop and share ideas and good practices. These will ensure everybody can find inspiration for his or her individual next step.

In every decision process, let’s ask ourselves which sustainability aspects we can include, what kind of sustainability impact our decision will have, and how our choices can bring the optimum for a more sustainable procurement activity.

We believe there are always options! Let’s challenge ourselves and others to adopt more sustainable alternatives that will pay off in the long term.

Please Join the Sustainable Procurement Pledge

We warmly invite you to join the Sustainable Procurement Pledge (#SPP) and make your commitment visible to the world. Join us and become an active ambassador who encourages his or her respective network to also embark on this mission.

None of us knows what the future will bring. We are, however, committed to doing our personal best to ensure that a positive legacy of procurement is preserved. There is not a lot of time left and we do not have a second planet!

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