Buying for a better world: a guide for sustainable procurement in the UN (2011)


The United Nations Sustainable Procurement Guide can also support the efforts of various UN organizations in responding to the call of the Secretary General on climate neutrality and overall sustainability, by indicating how UN spending power can be used to deliver these outcomes through greenhouse gas emissions reduction. 

While this guide is essentially targeted to the procurers in United Nations system organizations, it has been structured to be of relevance to policy makers and requisitioners. The guide is presented in three modules:

Module 1: Sustainable Procurement supports the UN mandates
Module 2: The Sustainable Procurement Action Plan
Module 3: Sustainable Procurement throughout the Procurement Process

Module 1 will be of particular interest and relevance to policy makers. It describes the key concepts behind sustainability and the UN Policy Framework to implement SP. Some concrete examples of SP practices are provided. 

In Module 2, the important steps to build a SP Action Plan are described. This module will be of interest to policy makers, managers/budget holders and chiefs of procurement. 

Module 3 is essentially addressed to requisitioners (programme officers, building managers, etc.) and procurers. Information and guidance are provided on how to integrate sustainability criteria in procurement processes.


A Guide to Environmental Labels: For Procurement Practitioners of the United Nations System (2009)


This guide provides guidance to procurement practitioners who are entering the world of environmental labels. It sheds light on the nature of different environmental labels, ecolabels, product declarations and many other logos that, more or less accurately, aspire to define the environmental performance of consumer products. It also explains how to use environmental labels in the context of UN procurement and how to avoid misuses and misconceptions commonly found in the booming 'green' market. Overall, the guide aims to help procurement practitioners safely navigate this complex area, to use environmental labels more effectively and transparently, and to enhance the sustainable performance of their tenders.

Download the executive summary here

Sustainable Procurement: Buying for a Better World (2008)


This guide is for UN procurement managers interested in developing sustainable procurement policies.  The report provides an overview of the basic concepts and outlines the key steps that need to be taken to begin the process of sustainable procurement. Examples via case studies of UN agencies are also provided, to provide concrete examples of the progress towards achieving climate neutrality. Overall, the aim of the report is to provide all UN agencies with the tools to ensure that sustainable procurement becomes the standard operating procedure throughout the UN system.

 Download the PDF here


Environmental Procurement:  Practice Guide Volume 1 (2008)


The practice guide was designed to enable procurement practitioners to gain an overview of sustainable procurement. The guide provides advice on how and where environmental interventions can be integrated into the various stages of procurement process and introduces UNDP’s gradual approach to the implementation of the concept across the organization with the use of a green continuum and a UNDP-specific product rating system. It is also supported with supplementary environmental product services specifications designed to assist the procurement practitioner when drafting specifications and TORs. Overall, it is a useful guide for understanding environmental procurement and the approach taken by UNDP in this regard.


 Download the PDF here


Saving for a Bright Future: A Manual for Efficient Lighting Procurement in UN Agencies (2007)


Saving for a Bright Future is aimed at UN agencies to support them in their efforts to procure efficient lighting. According to the manual, 15-30% of total electricity consumption can be reduced by applying green lighting. Thus, factual arguments are provided to enable UN offices to pursue cost saving options when it comes to lighting. Moreover a variety of case studies are highlighted along with recommendations of effective measures that can be taken to illustrate the benefits of investing in green lighting options.  Overall, the manual complements UN agencies efforts to support the Climate Neutral Strategy.

Download the PDF here





Online training course 


An online training course on sustainable procurement is available at the UN Global Market Place (UNGM) website. The course is open to all, but the final quiz is accessible to UN staff alone. To access the final quiz, UN staff need to register at the UNGM as a UN staff and log in, after which the link for the quiz would be visible.


Face to face training course 


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITC/ILO) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) have worked in cooperation to develop a face-to-face training course on sustainable procurement. The course includes a combination of presentations and participatory methods so that participants have the opportunity to examine real-life sustainability cases in a standard procurement. It is targeted at procurers, requisitioners and policy makers of the UN system. To arrange a training session, contact Isabella Marras.



Sustainable Procurement Guidelines


This resource was developed to assist procurers and requisitioners with sustainable procurement. Apart from providing guidelines, the resource also contains statistics, policy information, background documents and a collection of good practices across the UN system. The guidelines also recognize that market situations are different based on location and thus provide more specific guidelines depending on regional categorizations. Furthermore, guidelines are specifically provided for the areas of ICT, cleaning, furniture, stationary, vehicles and catering. Overall, the resource provides a comprehensive overview of the importance of sustainable procurement and the steps that need to be taken to achieve it.




ICT Guidelines










Cafeterias, food and kitchen equipment


 Freight Forwarding


Generators and Batteries



Sustainable Procurement in UN entities


UNDP - Practioners Guide to Sustainable Development

Programme & Operations Policies and Procedures (POPP) - Policy on sustainable procurement

UNFCCC - Procurement Policy and Procedures - Annex B Guidelines on environmentally sustainable procurement

UNFPA - Green Procurement Strategy



UN Groups &  Networks


HLCM Procurement Network aims to promote the strategic importance of Procurement and Supply Chain Management in programme and service delivery in a transparent and accountable manner within the UN system.

UN Global Marketplace (UNGM) is the procurement portal of the UN System - bringing together UN procurement staff and the supplier community.

The UN Procurement Division aims to provide expert procurement services and business advice to the UN system.