COP 26 is likely to have made history as one of the most significant COP events when it comes to requesting more ambitious targets and tangible initiatives for reducing carbon emissions and taking climate action until 2030. Faster phasing-out of coal, curtailing deforestation, speeding up the switch to electric vehicles, and encouraging investments in renewable energy are at the core of key initiatives.
Those actions will require grand transformations for many businesses and their socio-ecological environments (e.g. natural environment, talent pool, infrastructure, etc). Amidst uncertainty, businesses will have to plan, implement, and monitor improvements in various areas such as product developments, facilities and production management, procurement and supply chain, reverse logistics, and finally, use of technology.
Unfortunately, the pressures for climate action coincide in time with an economic slowdown due to COVID-19 pandemic and various other social and environmental pressures such as conservation of biodiversity and water. Not surprisingly, several companies avoid carbon tunnel vision and adopt SDGs as a guide for action in their sustainability agenda.
At Aston University, a newly founded research centre on Circular Economy and Advanced Sustainability (CEAS) is keen to help businesses in tackling those challenges. CEAS, led by Dr Luciano Batista and Dr Breno Nunes, develops high-quality research which may include solutions, tools, technologies, managerial models, education opportunities, and policy frameworks that can be used by governments, organisations, policymakers, and relevant stakeholders to make a positive impact beyond academia.
An example of that is a project run by doctoral researcher Raji Sivaraman, supervised by Dr Nunes and Dr Donato Masi. Ms Sivaraman is currently investigating how procurement activities are influenced and can contribute to sustainability performance when companies want to respond to SDGs as sustainability drivers. Sustainable procurement is a relatively recent area and advocates ethical purchasing from the reliable suppliers, catering for environmental and social concerns in the supply chain.
The dynamics of responding to the pressures from various stakeholder groups, controlling cost, and still complying with market requirements is one that deserves further investigation. For instance, SDG 13 is about climate action, and can be the primary driver for a company. By addressing it in procurement, organisations may simultaneously contribute to other SDGs, or unfortunately, experience trade-offs. New purchasing criteria, selection of suppliers, partnerships, and transfer of green technologies, and suppliers’ codes of conduct are the usual ways companies implement sustainable procurement policies.
Combined purchasing power at the country, regional and global levels can be achieved through partnerships/collaborations avoiding fragmented efforts. Many UNSDG targets are impacted by soliciting innovative ideas and including strategic sustainable policies if made mandatory in all tenders. Higher transparency and traceability in the supply chain can be achieved today through digitization and are key in meeting the requirements of SDG 13 and several others.
If this topic is relevant for you, we invite you to join our research in finding the roles played by stakeholders while implementing sustainable procurement that contribute towards the UNSDGs, including climate action. The solutions that will emerge from the research will help your firm to increase their sustainability performance and might be showcased in our publications.
All research at Aston University will require research ethics approval, and therefore will comply with confidentiality issues and request your approval prior publication. Participation is free and voluntary and will take place via personal interviews from May 2022. We will work around your availability.
Please contact Ms Raji Sivaraman (at firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr Breno Nunes (at email@example.com) if you want to participate.