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UN/CEFACT whitepaper on Sustainable Procurement open for comments until 20 September

How can companies demonstrate compliance with sustainability criteria? How can small and medium enterprise suppliers avoid administrative burdens when doing so for cross-border trade? What policies, standards and good practices for sustainable procurement, and their impact on trade facilitation, do government decision-makers need to be aware of? And how could UNECE contribute to the development of best practices as trade facilitation tools that provide guidance and support for financially sound, environmentally sustainable and socially responsible procurement in business-to-government (B2G) and business-to-business (B2B) transactions? 

UNECE’s United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) is at the forefront of these discussions and needs your input for the development of a new recommendation.

The importance of public opinion in buying goods from - or trading with - socially responsible companies is becoming a strong business-selection criterion. It is also a reason why companies that do not fulfill the criteria of environmental and social sustainability are being heavily hit with negative brand reputation.Sustainable procurement is a process by which public authorities or private corporations seek to achieve the appropriate balance between financial, environmental and social considerations when procuring goods, services or works at all stages of the value transformation cycle.

Demonstrating compliance with sustainability considerations may however introduce additional administrative burdens to trade across borders, particularly for small-medium enterprise suppliers who, when participating in international tenders, are requested to prove compliance with specific environmental and social regulations, norms and standards. Facilitating such processes can therefore be valuable for these companies.

UNECE’s United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), which has played a fundamentally important role in the development, promotion and implementation of trade facilitation, is following these developments closely and working to help governments understand and use their potential.

As part of this work, UN/CEFACT is developing a recommendation aiming to identify policies, standards and good practices for sustainable procurement, and their impact on trade facilitation.

The recommendation will address the following questions:

How to minimize administrative burdens and facilitate cross border trade and access of transition and developing economies to procurement opportunities worldwide, in line with both the WTO Government Procurement Agreement and the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement?

How to build a sustainable vendor rating model focused on social and environmental indicators that evaluates suppliers’ sustainability performance?

How to avoid that sustainable procurement practices are used as tools for limiting free trade and competition dynamics? 

The draft of the recommendation on sustainable procurement practices work under UN/CEFACT is available for public comment until 20 September 2018, at the following address: https://uncefact.unece.org/display/uncefactpublicreview/Public+Review%3A+Sustainable+Procurement

The UN/CEFACT secretariat strongly encourages countries to review and comment on this document before the deadline. All comments which are officially submitted will be reviewed and considered for the final version.