Translate sustainability performance expectations into clear and enforceable components of supplier contracts.

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Formalise sustainability expectations

The sustainable technical specifications included in the tender documents can now become a part of the contract once the supplier is selected. Building upon any technical specifications and award criteria, use contract clauses and conditions to outline sustainability expectations. For example, product end-of-life management responsibilities, data sharing and disclosure requirements, or incentives and/or disincentives for sustainability performance.1 2 Performance-based sustainability clauses can offer supportive price adjustments, contract extensions, favourable payment terms, or flexible timelines based on realistic and measurable sustainable outcomes and associated KPIs.

EXAMPLE: Vodafone and CDP's finance framework to encourage supplier carbon reduction3

Vodafone and CDP created a framework offering preferential financing rates to suppliers to reduce carbon emissions. Suppliers' environmental performance determines their financing rates. Initially available to Vodafone's suppliers via Citi, the initiative aims to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to Vodafone's Scope 3 emissions targets. This model is expected to expand industry-wide.

Specify reporting requirements

If not already outlined in the RFx, establish reporting requirements in the contract to ensure that the supplier is providing regular updates on their sustainability performance. Conditions can include regular sustainability reports or other relevant documentation. Define the frequency, format and structure of the sustainability reports, including any specific metrics or standards that must be used. Outline the data that must be collected and reported on for each sustainability performance indicator, such as energy use, water consumption, or waste generation. You can also include methods for verifying the sustainability reports' accuracy and completeness, such as third-party audits or certifications. 

Ensure the enforceability of your desired sustainability outcomes

Ensure desired outcomes are achieved by developing enforceable agreements and contracts. Define corrective and remedial actions for non-compliance and ensure that the appropriate resources will be available to support and monitor performance outlined by the sustainability clauses. Include provisions on corrective action and ensure your team can assess, enforce and support supplier compliance during the contract management stage by bringing together legal, sustainable and other relevant advisors.

EXAMPLE: Telecom company adding emissions reduction clause to supplier contracts

In its effort to meet its supply chain emissions targets, BT Group introduced a climate clause for suppliers which commits them to make measurable carbon reductions across their value chain during the contract term. The clause started out as voluntary but became mandatory.4 The financial benefits of energy savings have helped the idea gain traction and it is now embedded in contracts with several key suppliers.5

EXAMPLE: BMW environmental and social purchasing conditions

Over 95% of BMW Group’s supplier contracts contain clauses relating to the company’s sustainability requirements. For instance, UK purchasing conditions include clause 29 on environment (REACH compliance) and clause 30 on social responsibility (International Labour Organisation (ILO) principles).6

EXAMPLE: Disney requires pre-authorisation of all potential subcontractors

Disney’s International Labor Standards (ILS) program requires that contracts with independent licensees and vendors’ facilities and subcontractors that manufacture products or components incorporating Disney-branded products must be declared to Disney and receive prior authorisation to manufacture.7 8

Responsible Contracting Project cover

Responsible Contracting Project

This project addresses human rights challenges in global supply chains by creating practical contractual tools. It has developed a Responsible Contracting Toolkit, that includes model contract clauses, to support more balanced and cooperative relations between buyer and suppliers enabling better outcomes for workers. It also aligns with major international human rights frameworks. 

Collection of Ready-made Climate Clauses cover

Collection of Ready-made Climate Clauses

The Chancery Lane Project’s Net Zero Toolkit includes ready-made contractual climate clauses that you can incorporate into commercial agreements with suppliers to deliver climate solutions.

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Contractual Clauses Project

This project by the American Bar Association is designed to support human rights due diligence in business contracting. They offer a number of resources including model contract clauses, reports, and guidance. 

Sustainability Clauses in Commercial Contracts: The Key to Corporate Responsibility  cover

Sustainability Clauses in Commercial Contracts: The Key to Corporate Responsibility

This tool by Ecovadis provides a practical overview of current practices related to supplier sustainability clauses, including formal considerations for what should be included as well as operational considerations.

Financial and Contractual Approaches to Mitigating Foreign Migrant Worker Recruitment-Related Risks  cover

Financial and Contractual Approaches to Mitigating Foreign Migrant Worker Recruitment-Related Risks

This guide from Verité outlines how you can address the risk of foreign migrant worker exploitation in your supply chain through your supplier contracts (Pages 10-19).

Contract Design Pattern Library  cover

Contract Design Pattern Library

The WorldCC Foundation’s database of contract related guidelines, explanations, and examples is designed to help you create more user-friendly and fair contracts through simplification and visualisation.

Comic Contracts  cover

Comic Contracts

Creative contracts uses comic strips to creates easily understandable legal contracts Their website includes examples of how contracts can be designed as easily understood and remembered, comic contracts which are especially useful to communicate in cross-cultural contexts or with partners who have low literacy skills.