Send clear signals by outlining credible value chain sustainability commitments, including setting a clear vision, articulating a credible public position, and setting clear goals and targets.

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Making commitments helps align your employees and external value chain partners with your sustainable procurement strategy by preparing them for shifts in your priorities and business model, enabling them to support your vision and goals.

Articulate your vision for a sustainable value chain

Begin by envisaging your desired future state for a sustainable value chain. Aim to push aside the constraints of your current capabilities and known solutions. As you craft this vision, consider how your company can contribute to upholding the health and resilience of your value chain's social and environmental systems. To bring this vision to life, consider involving other stakeholders - like peers and suppliers. Seek their input and endorsements, inviting them to participate in a shared vision development process.

Articulate a credible public position on sustainable procurement

Demonstrate your commitment to value chain sustainability by publicly articulating your stance on critical issues. When creating public position statements, outline the issue and its link to your strategy and clarify your commitments to address the issue, including the magnitude and pace of change required. This process can foster deeper engagement on sustainability issues, challenge deep-seated assumptions, and clarify your internal understanding. If you have suppliers who may be impacted by your position, consider consulting with them before making it public. This will foster trust and create a platform for proactive collaboration.

EXAMPLE: Walt Disney Publishes Statement on Uzbek Cotton

In response to reports of widespread forced labour being used to harvest cotton in Uzbekistan, the Walt Disney Company published a statement outlining that it is restricting the use of Uzbek cotton in its supply chain. The statement shares the company’s understanding of the issues and its steps to address them. To read the complete statement, click here.

Develop a sustainable procurement strategy with credible goals

Setting credible goals is integral to articulating how your organisation plans to do its part to support environmental and community resilience (See our blog for more details). Since you don't directly control the value chain, you will need to use your influence. When setting goals, avoid offloading the burden of change onto suppliers. Instead, view your value chain as an extension of your business and acknowledge your responsibility in addressing the impacts of the goods and services you use. Your goals should reflect a fair contribution of resources to aid suppliers.¹ ² Additionally, you might encourage suppliers to set their own goals, highlighting the benefits they stand to gain. Where feasible, consider collaborating with suppliers to work to meet certain goals jointly.

EXAMPLE: Levi Strauss & Co. set contextual water targets at the basin level

LS&Co. conducted life cycle assessments to understand water use in its supply chain, shaping programs to address these impacts. Utilising tools like the WWF Water Risk Filter, LS&Co. identified water risks in its supply chain, categorising suppliers based on local water stress levels. Suppliers in less stressed areas were given efficiency targets, while those in high-stress regions received stricter water use targets, illustrating a contextual water strategy.³

EXAMPLE: Ericsson sends climate action letter to suppliers

Ericsson's climate goal aligns with limiting global warming to 1.5°C as outlined in the Paris Agreement and expects its suppliers to do the same. In a letter to suppliers, the company asked suppliers to set public climate targets of their own and shared resources to get started.

EXAMPLE: [INDIRECT] HP challenges marketing agencies to diversify their workforce

HP challenged its top five U.S.-based marketing agencies to significantly increase the number of women and minorities working on HP accounts, with particular attention to senior roles.⁵

Translate your sustainable procurement commitments into clear priorities and targets

Finally, to ensure your sustainable procurement strategy is actionable, translate your vision, goals, and commitments into clear, specific, and measurable priorities and targets at the category level. Regular meetings, cross-functional teams, and training resources could be used to foster collaboration, track progress, and adjust strategies. Accessible language and visuals can aid comprehension and underline the importance of commitments.

EXAMPLE: Translating sustainable procurement goals into actionable guidelines

Philips has outlined five key themes and criteria⁶ for European public-sector buyers to consider when purchasing medical equipment and health technology. Aiming to bolster Green Public Procurement (GPP), these guidelines draw from existing standards and Philips' best practices in areas like climate action and circular economy. While no uniform GPP standard exists, Philips believes that clear guidelines can foster systemic change and offer economic and social advantages.

Setting a Long-Term Sustainability Vision  cover

Setting a Long-Term Sustainability Vision

This briefing note from the Conference Board of Canada examines leading companies' approach to setting long-term sustainability visions. It offers value chain applicable insights on envisioning desirable future states and how they will be achieved.

Embedded Strategies for the Sustainability Transition cover

Embedded Strategies for the Sustainability Transition

This guide from the Embedding Project includes two sections relevant to making commitments. The Acknowledge section on pages 35-36 explains how to write effective position statements, and the Set Goals section on pages 37-45 describes how to set credible goals.

Setting Strong Sustainability Goals cover

Setting Strong Sustainability Goals

This article from the Embedding Project offers a clear explanation of how to set a credible goal that answers the question, what is enough? It covers the seven essential qualities every goal needs to be transparent and effective.

Credible Goals Database cover

Credible Goals Database

This database created by the Embedding Project includes 1000 active, leading sustainability goals. You can use it to find value chain-specific goals for benchmarking or modelling your goal development. Filter the database to show only value chain goals by clicking the “Level of Influence” dropdown from the filters menu and selecting “Value Chain.”

Next Generation Governance: Developing Position Statements on Sustainability Issues cover

Next Generation Governance: Developing Position Statements on Sustainability Issues

This guidebook by the Embedding Project will help you develop clear and transparent position statements by drawing insight from in-depth research, including hundreds of executive interviews.

[PUBLIC] The Procura+ Manual: A Guide to Implementing Sustainable Procurement: Chapter II cover

[PUBLIC] The Procura+ Manual: A Guide to Implementing Sustainable Procurement: Chapter II

This guide by Procura+ includes a section on sustainable target setting in procurement. This section is titled 2.3 The Procura+ Management Cycle, on pages 28 to 40.

The 1.5°C Supplier Engagement Guide cover

The 1.5°C Supplier Engagement Guide

This guide by the Exponential Roadmap Initiative includes a section on publicly committing to a 1.5°C Supplier target. It outlines the why, what, and how and provides several example commitments.