GSES standard

About Pillar Sustainable Procurement

 1. The GSES Sustainable Procurement Pillar

The Sustainable Procurement (SP) or Socially Responsible Procurement (SRP) pillar from GSE Standard is based is based on the ISO 20400. SP is a theme that plays a prominent role in organizations that develop and implement a sustainable strategy.

The ISO 20400 guideline offers a practical and highly professional approach to help achieve a sustainable strategy on the one hand and to make supply chains more sustainable on the other. In ISO 20400 ‘Sustainable Procurement’ is defined as ‘purchasing with the most positive environmental, social and economic effects, that are possible throughout the entire life cycle.’

When it to comes to SP, purchasing involves the sustainability aspects associated with the goods and services and with suppliers in the supply chain. SP contributes to achieving organizations’ sustainability goals and objectives and sustainable development in general. Sustainable Procurement is a powerful tool for all organizations that wish to behave responsibly and contribute to sustainable development and achieving the all of the 17 SDGs.

By integrating sustainability into procurement policies and practices, including supply chains, organizations can manage risks and opportunities for environmental, social and economic development.

2.  SP Pillar content

Context Analysis

The SP Pillar checks context analysis in the same way as the CSR pillar. Issues (both internal and external) related to procurement and the value chain need to be analysed.


When it comes to Sustainable Procurement the organization deals with a large number of stakeholders connected to supply chains. Examples are:

  • Suppliers, contractors, intermediaries, partners
  • Distributors, customers
  • Sector and branches
  • Governments (laws and regulations and enforcement)
  • Citizens and local communities
  • NGOs
  • Politics

The organization should identify the stakeholders who are directly or indirectly involved in purchasing activities.

Risk and opportunities

After the context and stakeholder analysis, SP specific risks and opportunities should be addressed


The Pillar checks if management is committed and shows leadership with regard to SP.

Planning & SP Subjects

The SP pillar checks if, addition to the seven CSR principles of ISO 26000, the SP principles of ISO 20400 are mentioned in policy plans. These are:

  • involving stakeholders in the policy on SP
  • continuously improving the sustainability of procurement
  • the sustainability and/or circularity of the 1st tier suppliers
  • communicating about sustainability, SP and/or circular economy with suppliers and customers
  • adherence to SP principles like accountability, transparency and fairness
  • adherence to SP principles like a focus on needs, innovation and life cycle costing
Support and implementation

These topics are addressed in the same way as the CSR pillar: action plans, management systems, certificates, training and education of employees, and clearly defining CSR responsibilities, providing tools.


For operational aspects, this pillar looks at human rights, environmental impact that is not covered by the other pillars e.g. pollution and water systems, and fair business practice corruption prevention and transparency. This also similar to the CSR Pillar, but the SP pillar focusses on how the organization implements this in dealing with suppliers and the supply chain.

Evaluation and improvement

The GSES system checks if performance is measured, monitored and assessed with quantitative targets, if this assessment is audited and if the organization draws conclusions from the assessment and works towards continuous improvement.