Examine reliability, completeness and understandability of supplier information

Survey results

Using the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), can suppliers make the impact of their solutions reliable, visible and measurable to buyers?

This is the question 42 business administration students at HZ University of Applied Sciences, under the guidance of their instructor Marjolein van Noort, have pondered in recent months. They spoke with 18 suppliers on behalf of Province of Zeeland and the MVI Platform. The students asked the entrepreneurs about their impact and experiences with the questionnaire that Province of Zeeland sent to a number of suppliers as a pilot. The analyses of these conversations provide Province of Zeeland and the MVI Platform with valuable insights.

New assignment

Period: September – December 2022

Target audience: students who want to contribute to a better and more sustainable future for all.

Clients: Province of Zeeland together with the MVI Platform.

Purpose: To give suppliers insight on relevant SDG indicators by filtering the 169 indicators by procurement group.

Sign up: mail@mviplatform.nl

Here are the 4 key insights

1. SDGs can be seen as global goals that are difficult for suppliers to translate into local goals

The 17 SDGs contain goals, some of which can be translated locally. Consider measures against heat stress in urban areas under SDG 13: climate action. Province of Zeeland has linked the relevant SDGs to the policy goals for procurement. Unambiguous measurable impacts are currently being worked on with policy staff and will be published later this year. This allows suppliers to visualize the contribution to these policy goals in their offerings via a fill-in and calculation sheet. Therefore, it is not Province of Zeeland’s goal that suppliers must make an impact on all SDGs, as some suppliers thought. The questionnaire is broad to make suppliers aware of the connection between the SDGs.

2. The link between the SDGs and sustainability definitions is not immediately clear to everyone

Province of Zeeland and MVI Platform will make visible how the SDGs fit within the 3Ps (People, Planet, Prospherity) and ESG (Environmental Social Governance). The SDGs are a global language used by governments, businesses, NGOs and citizens alike. They work well in practice because they are action-oriented. Within Socially Responsible Contracting, Province of Zeeland and MVI Platform use them as a consideration framework to determine what is material (what matters), so that effective management can be achieved. In fact, research shows that 80% of the impact is invisible. Future-proof business is managing and reporting on what matters.

3. Among the 17 SDGs are 169 indicators that make the goal concrete; most suppliers do not know this

Province of Zeeland and MVI Platform will filter the relevant indicators per procurement group to provide more clarity and guidance to suppliers. For this we are looking for students who want to develop this over the next six months for the standardpurchasing package listused by governments as on PIANOo. Working this out also helps buyers recognize opportunities for positive or negative impact by procurement package. You can sign up at mail@mviplatform.nl and kopenmetimpact@zeeland.nl

4. Making impact quantifiable is difficult even for entrepreneurs who have been working on sustainability for some time

Sustainability is complex to make measurable because you need information about who, how and where are involved in the extraction of raw materials, the production process, use and discard phases. Due to the complexity of our global production chains, it is often difficult to identify who is involved and what raw materials are used per link in the entire chain. And then how do you determine in what way we can produce and consume within the carrying capacity of the earth? There are plenty of tools to measure sustainability with. Each tool has its own goals, focus and functions. Different tools are used in different situations. To measure the environmental impact of production chains, RIVM has described a number of tools. A number of procurement groups such as for office chairs, for example, use environmental LCAs (life cycle analyses). The beauty is that effects of an LCA can be linked to the SDGs allowing us to use existing tools to make the effect on the SDGs measurable. Social LCAs are less developed and applied. For this, MVO Nederland’s tool the CSR risk checker is a good first step to gain insight.

We thank all the students for their insights and vendors for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer students’ questions

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