How can innovative procurement boost sustainability? Notable report gives answers

COPENHAGEN – “Innovation and procurement are viable, tested and proven policy options to achieve sustainable growth,” states United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a report released today.

The Supplement to the 2013 Annual Statistical Report on United Nations Procurement provides an overview of the benefits and challenges of implementing innovative procurement. The report has been released at a time when the global drive to find innovative solutions to achieve development challenges and shape a sustainable future is stronger than ever.

"Innovative procurement offers tremendous opportunities to use government buying power to shape the world around us for a better tomorrow," states the Secretary-General in his foreword to the report.

"Through investment in new technology and research, the promotion of domestic manufacturing, increased transparency and accountability in public fund management, and support for small and medium-sized enterprises, procurement systems can help develop national capacity and attain sustainable development goals," he continues.

The report’s lead author is Raj Kumar, President and Editor-in-Chief of Devex, a social enterprise that connects and informs 500,000 aid workers and development professionals on According to Mr Kumar, innovative procurement is viable, “particularly if the development community works together to change the mindset around innovation from novel ideas to better results achieved faster and cheaper.”

Mr Kumar also highlights tangible steps to foster innovation through procurement, including buying “solutions” rather than specific products, focusing on process improvements such as building more modern and effective government systems, fostering a market for the commercial introduction of new products and technologies and incentivizing innovators through social financing.

Renowned researchers and specialists in the procurement and supply chain field comprise the remainder of the supplement. Development organizations contributing to the supplement include the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the World Bank and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability. In addition, researchers from around the world cover various themes linked to procurement and innovation including success factors, international policies and development-based public procurement. The supplement also includes case studies from Brazil, China, Nepal, South Africa and Wales.

This is the sixth edition of the publication, which has been produced by UNOPS. It supplements the Annual Statistical Report on United Nations Procurement, which provides data and analysis on the goods and services procured by the United Nations system in support of its operations.

Both publications can be downloaded on the UNOPS website and the United Nations Global Marketplace (UNGM).