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Dutch green entrepreneurs revolutionise sustainable procurement in the UAE

The global Sustainable Procurement market is overwhelmed with hundreds of Ecolabels using different parameters and criteria. Not easy for entrepreneurs who want to secure a sustainable change in their supply chain. To turn the tide, the Dutch green initiators of the Global Sustainable Enterprise System (GSES) recently launched its independently verified procurement system in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

By The Liberum newsdesk
The UAE is taking the sustainable lead in a fossil-fuel-dominated GCC region. There is now a broad consensus in the GCC to move from fossils to renewables and invest in making supply chains more sustainable.

Tatiana Antonelli Abella, Founder and Managing Director, started the social enterprise Goumbook 2009 in the UAE. A country where sustainable procurement plays a crucial role in national sustainable strategies such as The Green Agenda 2030 and the UAE Net Zero 2050.

She explained that hosting COP28 (United Nations Climate Change Conference) in Dubai later this year is a huge responsibility for the UAE. “It offers a unique opportunity to lead by example on all matters related to sustainability and climate change. I foresee a further acceleration of announcements, implementation and adoption of legislation and guidance across all sectors of the economy in this field.”

Antonelli Abella further emphasised that more attention to sustainable procurement will help reduce scope 2 & 3 GHG emissions to help meet the carbon reduction objectives and goals set forth to stay below 1.5C pre-industrial global temperature levels.

Sustainable Procurement Manifesto
In early June, GSES, the Dutch National SDG Coordinator 12, SDG The Netherlands, and other organisations launched the Sustainable Procurement Manifesto, in which the initiators call for uniformising sustainable procurement on a global scale. The first stop was the UAE.

By purchasing sustainably, companies can make a considerable impact in addressing today's pressing issues, as defined by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

GSES tasked Dutch entrepreneur Stefanie Schachtschabel to launch the manifest in the UAE, where 2023 is dedicated to sustainability, under the theme, 'Today for Tomorrow'. 

“It is always positive to bring diverse minds together to expand awareness of the importance of sustainable procurement”, said visionary entrepreneur Samie Al-Achrafi. His leadership consultancy, Marmalade Fish (founded in 2015), was the first Certified B Corporation in the GCC.

Al-Achrafi asks how to honour the ecosystem in which business belongs. He describes the Manifesto and the bold ambitions of GSES as challenging.  

“Integrating sustainability criteria into procurement decisions and aligning to the SDGs requires a deep understanding of the business landscape in emerging markets and the region’s complexities. What is being called forth is to evolve beyond commitment towards transparency and accountability.”

Al-Achrafi elaborated further: “If we look at the UAE, there is no naming-and-shaming tradition for non-compliant parties as in Europe. It is even punishable by law to that. Once we bring more conscious leaders on board, how to measure and manage social and environmental performance down the line?”

Schachtschabel agreed with Al-Achrafi’s analysis. Even though B Corp and EcoVadis deliver great work and have quality marks, companies must work hard to get certified and sustain the certification, which can be time-consuming and costly for an entrepreneur.

“So far, so good. One crucial factor is overseen: both market leaders work with in-house auditors. That is like a student marking their work”, she said.

With that, Schachschabel hits the nail on the head. GSES System can measure a verified SG rating based on certificates (over 550 international certificates aligned). Best seen as a one-stop sustainability measurement and rating platform using the same approach and one language.

Schachschabel emphasised that no other system in the world currently can do that.  Via the so-called Sustainable Procurement Dashboard, enterprises can get further insight into sustainable and circular procurement performance supporting SDG 12, SDG 10 and SDG 13 in the process.

The market has numerous quality marks, ecolabels, and sustainable procurement certificates. The lack of structure creates an overwhelming effect for many entrepreneurs. Schachtschabel: “They often want to look at their supply chain critically, but they get lost; there is too much to choose from.”

Schachtschabel: “Independent parties should always do audits; that makes it valuable. That is where our strength lies: we bring all of the existing platforms together, including B Corp and EcoVadis. By doing so, we create one sustainability language. That will benefit the private sector as a whole.”

Tatiana Antonelli Abella could also not agree more: “It would benefit everyone to have one platform that uses the same parameters and criteria, and it would help compare companies in the same sector properly. It is a very user-friendly platform. I hope many more countries and companies can adopt it in the short term. It is also a good call to action for the upcoming COP28.”

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