Public Sector Procurement – A Catalyst for Sustainable Change

The lights on the global economic dashboard are red –investments, growth and forecasts are down, inflation and interest rates are up. You face the same old challenges of doing more with less, whilst improving public services, but in one of the most challenging, turbulent decades the UK and, indeed, the world has seen.

But there is one area with a lot of focus, where you can be a shining beacon in these daunting times – sustainability.

Driving sustainability – a big part to play

Tackling sustainability and climate change is a big issue – one faced by public and private companies alike. Yet you – the public sector – are in a unique position. In addition, to driving value for money when budgets are tight, public sector procurement policies can be a strategic asset in driving the change, through environmental, social and governance (ESG) and sustainability practices.

Often, public sector procurement policies set the rules of the game across all industries as vendors strive to meet the criteria for public sector contracts and your demand for more sustainable goods and services. The OECD recognises this, stating that ‘By using their purchasing power to choose goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact, governments can make an important contribution towards sustainability goals’.

At the most recent COP27 summit, governments came together and demonstrated political will to take on climate change through ‘concerted, collaborative and impactful’ action, ahead of COP28. 133 countries have committed to Net Zero and the UK is no exception – the UK Government’s Net Zero strategy sets out policies and proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy to meet our net zero target by 2050.

But achieving this target is another question. A recent independent review of Net Zero, commissioned by the UK Government, highlighted that the UK could be doing more to reap the economic benefits of green growth, and identified key steps for the public sector to ensure progress happens.

Some of the 8 areas identified within the review were:

  • Backing businesses to go green – including reviewing incentives for investment in decarbonisation and offering advice to small businesses looking to do more around sustainability.
  • Increasing transparency and engaging people – expanding public reporting on Net Zero and creating a carbon calculator.
  • Capitalising on international leadership – introducing environmental and climate protections in future free trade agreements, removing trade barriers to environmental goods and services.

A demand for data and analytics

To achieve decarbonisation, you will need comprehensive data and analytics on which to base the decisions such as where to put investment, which suppliers meet the criteria for public sector contracts, and when to lower trade barriers, as an example.

By using their purchasing power to choose goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact, governments can make an important contribution towards sustainability goals.

However, ESG and sustainability data has key challenges – only larger public companies must report on it, there is no single regulatory framework, source data is often not updated regularly, there is no universal system to verify reported data and the lack of a common dataset impacts the quality, coverage, consistency and granularity of information and presents barriers to automation.

When you work with a large portfolio of companies within a wide business ecosystem, it is helpful to use performance dashboards to display large amounts of ESG and sustainability data in a visually simple and accessible way. This would enable you to see – immediately – how each supplier is doing – over time and in comparison, to its peers. The point will be to try and push companies towards better sustainability performance collectively, through competition, in a way: how do you compare to your peers? “Are you a leader or a follower?”


Help is at hand

Dun & Bradstreet provides ESG scores and data on over 42 million organisations in 170+ markets – the largest coverage of public and private companies. Our data has been gathered from millions of sources, so you don’t have to do the legwork. It’s updated monthly for an accurate representation, built around trusted sustainability frameworks, and even includes self-assessment capabilities so you can reach out to suppliers in a standardised way when needed.

We have data on sustainability topics such as energy and water management, pollution, emissions, and climate risk – as well as social impacts and corporate governance.

What’s more, you can view our ESG data through intelligent web apps or have it integrated into your existing supplier due diligence workflows via API.

Request your free ESG analysis

Ready to get started?

Our free ESG Rankings Analysis provides you with a high-level view of ESG risks within your supplier portfolio, broken down by theme and comparison to industry averages.

See a summary of your portfolio’s ESG performance, benchmark ratings against industry averages, and see a breakdown of rankings by ESG topic to see how suppliers are performing in specific areas.


Request yours today.