UN report shows how public procurement is a powerful tool for sustainable development


As governments respond with unprecedented spending to combat the coronavirus pandemic, a new report released by the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS), urges them to ensure public procurement does no harm to people and the planet.
The report entitled “Scaling up Voluntary Sustainability Standards through Sustainability Public Procurement and Trade Policy” explores how government spending can drive the uptake of voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) – special rules that guarantee that the products we buy do not hurt the environment and the people that make them. It is the fourth edition of the UNFSS report.
VSS ensure products are made or transported in accordance with certain sustainability metrics, such as its environmental impact, basic human rights, labour standards, and gender equality.
“The integration of VSS in public procurement and trade policies can scale up their adoption,” said Isabelle Durant, deputy head of UNCTAD, which coordinates UNFSS, a group of five UN agencies that promote these rules, including the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).