The Sustainable United Nations (SUN) Facility of UN Environment supports UN organizations in their journey towards climate neutrality and environmental sustainability. In line with this objective, since the initiation of its work in 2008, SUN has been a frontrunner in raising awareness, building capacities, supporting initiatives and promoting the uptake of Sustainable Procurement within the UN system both at a policy and operations level.

Implemented in

  • Africa
  • Asia / Pacific
  • Europe and Central Asia
  • Latin America / Caribbean
  • Middle East
  • North America

Partners

  • Members of the SP Working Group under the HLCM Procurement Network

Sustainability themes

Sector of activity
Public Procurement

Type of initiative
Capacity Building & Implementation, Policy Frameworks & Tools

Type of lead actor
United Nations / intergovernmental organizations

Objectives

With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, public procurement has been clearly pointed as one of the strategies towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Specifically, Goal 12. “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns” and its Target 12.7 therein refer to the need to “Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities”.

The UN system has been called to internalize the Sustainable Development Goals, across policy, operational and administrative aspects. Aiming towards this target, SUN, through its Sustainable Procurement branch of work, aims at facilitating the integration of sustainability considerations in the procurement operations of UN organizations and the promotion of the SP agenda through the implementation of inter-agency SP initiatives, capacity-building as well as training and policy work.

Activities

The current core work streams of SUN on the SP policy and practice field include:

1. Provision of SP advice to UN Agencies:

SUN is the UN system's focal point for agencies to submit SP inquiries. On an ad hoc basis, the SUN team provides technical expertise and supports procurement practitioners with hands-on advice on ways to address sustainability within their tenders.

2. SP Training and awareness-raising:

In collaboration with UNEP, UNOPS and ITCILO, SUN engages in organising training events for UN procurement officials, strengthening practical knowledge on SP matters. Using SUN's Greening the Blue initiative, awareness and sharing of available tools and best practices on SP is also supported.

3. Facilitation/co-Chairing of the HLCM Procurement Network working group on Sustainable Procurement (SP WG):

The WG acts as a networking platform for fostering collaboration between UN agencies and other HLCM PN working groups to exchange experiences, share best practices and lessons learned with SP implementation. Through the WG, members identify opportunities for working together and enabling action on operationalizing SP considerations in their procurement processes.

Impact and Results

In November 2017, the SP WG launched the first phase of the joint project "Tracking SP implementation in the UN system". This project has been conceptualized with the aim to streamline SP reporting, by creating a common framework among UN agencies on how to benchmark and measure SP implementation based on quantifiable indicators.The project will contribute to the efforts of the UN Climate Neutral Strategy and to the reporting on UN efforts to internalise the Sustainable Development Goals in management practices. Specifically, the project is expected to enhance leadership and transparency in the participating UN agencies in measuring and reporting SP implementation and benchmarking their progress over time while facilitating increased collaboration amongst UN agencies on specific tenders. The project will ultimately support the efforts of enhancing the ability of the market to respond to SP tenders and thus create a multiplying effect.

With regards to enhancing awareness, SUN through the Greening the Blue platform published overall five stories on Sustainable Procurement. These included good practice and success stories on SP by FAO, WFP, UNFPA and UNOPS. An article about the new ISO20400 Guidance on SP was also published.

Finally, in October 2017, SUN in collaboration with UNOPS and ITCILO organized SP training courses for Geneva-based HLCM Procurement Network members. Two one-day courses were conducted and attended by 50 participants in total from different UN agencies.

Next steps and how to get involved

For more information on SUN Sustainable Procurement initiatives, please contact:
Isabella Marras, SUN Programme Coordinator at Isabella.Marras@un.org