UNOPS leads the way for sustainable procurement

Tue, 30/05/17

Following up from last week's interview with Director of UNOPS Procurement, Patricia Moser, Greening the Blue looks into what UNOPS is doing to improve the way they do sustainable procurement.


With a presence in more than 80 countries around the world, including in some of the most challenging places on earth, few organizations are as well suited as UNOPS to take large concepts such as sustainable procurement and apply them in practice.

In 2016, building on previous efforts, UNOPS took a big step forward to enhance its work in this area. The organization developed a number of tools and strategies to help personnel fully integrate sustainability in their procurement processes.

The results speak for themselves. 

1.   Sustainable procurement made easier:

1.1. Revised its Procurement Manual, templates and guidance documents to make sustainable procurement easier to understand and apply

1.2. Developed new easy-to-use tools including a “checklist” of 31 sustainability criteria, which were built into an online searchable tool for practitioners. Procurement practitioners can quickly and easily look-up what they are buying and see the most relevant sustainability criteria for those categories.

1.3. Developing a voluntary questionnaire for suppliers on sustainability in an effort to understand the efforts of its suppliers and identify potential ways to embed sustainability further upstream and downstream its supply chain.


2.   Provide field practitioners with enhanced support:

2.1. Developed an employee engagement plan on sustainable procurement and hired a dedicated resource to help meet their demand for support. The engagement plan included outreach to each field office and tailored support plans. In 2016, there were a number of webinars conducted, including one on embedding sustainability criteria into tenders and another on encouraging suppliers to participate in the UN Global Compact.

2.2. Continued to conduct the sustainable procurement training for staff and to external partners. Thirty-eight UNOPS personnel and 20 members of the World Food Programme procurement group in Rome received training in 2016. UNOPS is also currently exploring how they can embed sustainable procurement content more fully into their existing flagship course – Procurement Operations Training.

2.3. Developed a global consulting roster of Sustainable Procurement experts to support field practitioners with more complex procurement and projects.


3.   UNOPS headquarters leading by example:

3.1. Developed and piloted a supplier diversity program in an effort to enhance the diversity of UNOPS suppliers. A model for capacity development was piloted in Amman, Jordan, where 50 local small, medium and women-owned businesses received training on: 1) how to be successful entrepreneurs; 2) what is public procurement; and 3) how to participate in UNOPS tenders.

3.2. UNOPS also included a special clause in its procurement manual to enable it to set aside specific procurement opportunities for these businesses in the future.

3.3. Surpassed their target of having 80% of the long-term agreements set up include sustainability criteria. By comparison, in 2015 only 30% of UNOPS LTAs had SP as a component.

3.4. Awarded the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply gold award in sustainable procurement with a higher score of 97 versus 94 just 18 months prior.


Moving forward, UNOPS is planning to continue its efforts to ensure that sustainable procurement is embedded in its operations. 

Categories: Leadership, Procurement