Easier to set requirements in the procurement of clothing with a new service. Photo: Rab Lawrence, Flickr.

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New service makes it easier to set requirements for sustainability in public procurement

Through public procurement, it is possible to set requirements for sustainable business. But with today's complex supply chain, it is difficult to know when requirements should be set. But now the Procurement Authority has developed a service with the aim of simplifying and clarifying where in the ranks risks are.

Many companies and industries today operate in complex supply chains that extend over large parts of the world. It is often difficult for companies themselves to have insight into what is happening at each stage due to its complexity. Reports of human rights violations at the supplier level have attracted attention in many industries, not least in the clothing and food industries. At present, there is a lack of regulations that hold European companies responsible for the human rights violations that arise in their global supply chain.

Public procurement is used as a method when public sector organizations make purchases. All purchases of products or services made within tax-financed organizations are covered by the Public Procurement Act. The purpose of the procurement is to make business transparent and efficient in order to ensure that the tax money is used in the best way. Every year, SEK 782 billion is traded in public procurement in Sweden, which means that there are great opportunities to pursue sustainable development both within and outside the country's borders. By investing the money correctly, sustainable procurement has the opportunity to contribute to the fulfillment of environmental goals, better health and promote social sustainability in the supply chain. This is also a way of requiring companies to take more responsibility for what happens at their supplier level, as other rules are still lacking.

Risk analysis service makes it easier to set requirements

If there is a risk that human rights are violated at the supplier level outside Sweden's borders, it is the contracting organization's responsibility to set labor law conditions in accordance with International Labor Organization ILO core conventions. But as previously mentioned, this is sometimes unknown even to the companies themselves, which makes it even more difficult for organizations to have knowledge of when requirements should be set. The procurement authority launched in February this year en risk analysis service with the aim of making risks visible in order to make it easier for public organizations to know when requirements should be set and to provide support on how these risks should be managed. Lisa Sennström from the sustainability unit at the Procurement Authority answers the question of why the service was developed:

- Since 2018, we have had a government assignment that deals with production conditions in other countries. According to the assignment, we will provide easily accessible and reliable information about production conditions in other countries. In carrying out the assignment, we have identified that there is information about production conditions in other countries at a number of different organizations, but that it can be difficult for contracting organizations to find the information and ensure that it is credible.

The analysis service assesses the risk of violations in the areas: human rights, workers' rights, environmental protection and corruption. The risk assessment takes place in three steps in the chain, namely raw material, processing and final production. To begin with, there are assessments in the areas of textiles and shoes, care and nursing, as well as building materials and real estate products. Lisa Sennström sees a strong commitment to using the opportunities to make demands in the procurement:

- There is a great deal of interest both among decision-makers and in purchasing organizations to use public procurement in a way that contributes to meeting various sustainability goals.

Easier to set requirements in the procurement of clothing with a new service. Photo: Filipe Garcia Flickr.

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