Get in a shop – what is sustainable purchasing?

ISO 26000, GRI … Since CAP’s creation 11 years ago, we have contributed to the emergence and development of internationally recognized tools in the field of social responsibility in Belgium. Today we wish to strengthen an underused lever: the economic power of purchasing. By so doing, we want to restore the balance of efforts between the buyer and the supplier. Both have to improve their practices. The bigger your power, the bigger your responsibility to know and act. The globalization of the current economy complicates the task of those who wish to deal with a responsible supply chain. However, given the volume of global economic trade, this aspect of social responsibility is crucial in the quest for an increased accountability of the trade’s sphere.

The promotion of sustainable procurement is a multifaceted challenge:

  • Strategic challenge: it is really about broadening the vision of a Social Responsibility confined within the walls of an organisation. Current socio-economic and environmental challenges are global and a single company cannot provide satisfactory answers to those problems. It has become essential to establish a value chain collaboration to bring more responsible goods and services on the market.
  • Behavioral challenge: the first step in the implementation of a sustainable procurement policy is to re-question in depth our needs, our habits,…: for most of us, this idea is unpleasant and difficult. Only by trying and encouraging will we succeed. We are talking about securing your supply, access to natural ressources, … : these are tricky challenges organisations face.
  • Operational challenge: Public authorities are increasingly promoting sustainable procurement. However, the legislation on public procurement is not always easy to implement. But solutions exist. The European jurisprudence has demonstrated it in the recent years. This should push both procurers and supplying companies to improve their offers.


What is the common point between Iguacu (Brazil) and Singapore? They hosted the new ISO 20400 working group meetings on sustainable procurement in 2014. CAP conseil is designated by the Belgian Standard Body NBN as official head of delegation for the development of this future ISO standard.

The drafting of the future guidelines is well underway. The last meeting of the international committee achieved a wide consensus on key definitions and the allocation of responsibility within an organization aiming to make its procurement process more robust and sustainable. Belgium will set up its national mirror committee in 2015. The guidelines are expected for 2016.