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Consider factors such as total cost of ownership, greenhouse gas emissions, waste reduction and investments in social economy enterprises when purchasing strategic and everyday goods and services : this is the goal of sustainable procurement.SUPPLIED

From food to medical supplies, the COVID-19 pandemic has focused the world’s attention on the crucial role of procurement and supply chain management. As the peak crisis subsides, smart organizations will embrace purchasing strategies that support a more resilient, innovative and sustainable economy.

“Despite Canadian organizations’ sustainable development commitments, procurement remains disconnected from broader environmental and social objectives,” says Anne-Marie Saulnier, executive director of the Espace Québécois de Concertation sur les Pratiques d’Approvisionnement Responsable (ECPAR). “Our research shows that Canadian procurement is dominated by low-price awards made through short-term economic lenses. It is now more relevant than ever to use procurement as a powerful force to drive the market toward more circular, local and sustainable economies.”

Based in Montreal, ECPAR is a multi-stakeholder organization dedicated to helping the public and private sector implement sustainable procurement practices. ECPAR undertakes a survey every four years so organizations can benchmark their performance against their peers. The 2020 Sustainable Procurement Barometer will be carried out from May to August 2020 in collaboration with four large networks dedicated to sustainable procurement located across Canada. Private and public organizations from across the country are invited to participate in this free survey by completing a confidential online questionnaire. All respondents receive a personalized summary showing their strengths and weaknesses.

The City of Montreal has participated in the Barometer study since 2012. “Barometer gives us critical information about how we compare to other organizations and sectors, enabling us to see what is going on nationally so we can align our policies and activities towards what we consider best in class,” says Dean Gauthier, director of procurement services for the city.

Despite Canadian organizations’ sustainable development commitments, procurement remains disconnected from broader environmental and social objectives

Anne-Marie Saulnier - Executive Director of the Espace Québécois de Concertation sur les Pratiques d’Approvisionnement Responsable (EPCAR)

Mr. Gauthier says participating in the Barometer study has helped the municipality ensure its procurement decisions consider factors such as total cost of ownership, greenhouse gas emissions, waste reduction and investments in social economy enterprises.

In addition to helping organizations shift their supply chain practices, the survey results will be used to make recommendations to the federal government on a sustainable procurement strategy that meets the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and, in particular, SDG 12 on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.

For organizations wanting to use procurement to better manage risk – while encouraging inclusive, circular and fair economies – the good news is that there are tools, resources and expertise at hand. To be part of the change our society needs, ECPAR and its partners encourage all organizations to participate in Barometer 2020 and to follow the recommendations that will be formulated to ensure the ongoing evolution of sustainable procurement practices.


Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s Editorial Department was not involved in its creation.