Thomas Udesen’s Secrets for Sustainable Procurement #CTS2023

03/20/2023 | Reading time: 6 minutes

Thomas Udesen, Co-Founder and Ambassador of the Sustainable Procurement Pledge (SPP)

Welcome back Climate Champions! To celebrate the World’s Sustainable Procurement Day we invited to the Climate magazine a very special guest. We are happy to present Thomas Udesen, Co-Founder and Ambassador of the Sustainable Procurement Pledge (SPP).

He will host a Workshop on Sustainable Procurement at the Climate Transformation Summit with Oliver Hurray, Chair of Scope 3 Peer Group & Sustainable Procurement Pledge.

Today we are happy to meet with Thomas to discuss together the urgency of making climate action, best practices and challenges, and the potential of community-led climate action in the procurement world. Don’t forget to book your Summit ticket to meet Thomas at #CTS2023 in May!

Hello Thomas, thank you for joining this interview and most of all for sharing your insights and expertise in the upcoming Climate transformation Summit. To warm up I would like to start with a question about you: what moved you to found the Sustainable Procurement Pledge?

The idea was ignited by the Global Climate Strike on September 20th, 2019. What a
powerful message! Children and adults from all walks of life were making a clear statement,
and we were all reminded about our prime responsibility: to leave our home, our ONE
planet, in the same condition as it had been entrusted to us.
At the same time, the Fridays For Future initiative also provided an obvious clue to the
fundamental question on how we can accelerate change to have an immediate impact: Start
with ourselves!

As Procurement professionals we are holding an incredible decision power which many of
our colleagues may not yet realize. Using our discretionary decision power for good, drives
many small changes that ultimately leads to a big change.
Recognizing the power of the crowd, the idea to create a Sustainable Procurement Pledge
(#SPP) was born. We wanted it to be a very inclusive Pledge, a Pledge in which anybody
involved in Procurement activities around the globe could find themselves and engage.
From Intern to CPO, from Student to Professor, from Buyer to Supplier – literally everybody
who cares deeply about the future of our planet and the next generations.

Just like the #CTS2023, the Pledge is highly focused on community, highlighting the importance of teaming up with colleagues to make sustainable procurement choices, and even on a day-to-day basis driving change in one’s team. In your experience, how can this approach empower procurement officers to drive change in companies and supply chains? 

We trust that everyone knows best, which small and big things he or she can change to
make an impact on responsible Procurement. Obviously, there is not an one-size-fits-all
solution or a recipe how to solve the world’s most pressing topic, but we strongly believe in
our #SPP Ambassadors and the power and creativity of the crowd to develop and share
plenty of ideas and good practices to ensure that everybody will find an inspiration for his or
her individual next step.

If each of us take responsibility for our own Procurement conduct, tackle the small things
we can change in our way of thinking, reflecting and acting, if we all incorporate
sustainability aspects into our decision matrix, then the sum of these small changes will
make a huge impact on our world! Every procurement decision is a ballot!
We should all ask ourselves, in every decision process, which sustainability aspects we can
include, which sustainability impact our decision will have, and which of our choices would
bring the optimum for a more sustainable procurement activity.

We believe that there are always options and if you don’t know what it is, it’s probably because you haven’t looked hard enough! We must challenge ourselves and others with more sustainable alternatives
that will certainly pay off in the long term.

On the occasion of the World Sustainable Procurement Day, what are the main focus areas that you will address with the community?

The WSPD will provide a lot of insights, practical solutions and best practices on a broad
range of topics. As said, there is no one-sizes-fits-all solution for tackling the many
challenges procurement professionals, supply chains and organizations are facing when it
comes to sustainability. Industries, categories and the incredible complexity of sustainability
itself from carbon and scope 3, biodiversity, water usage, air pollution, circularity, waste
management, child labour, living wages, health and safety and many more require to create
practical-oriented approaches. The WSPD online event will provide a lot of information on a
lot of the topics and look into different industries but we naturally cannot cover them all.
What we can do is to provide ample inspiration for each step of the journey towards
sustainability regardless of the industry, country, category or topic.

Also, as other “World-Days”, the WSPD is not only an event by SPP, it’s a global invitation and call to action to people, NGOs, businesses, governments to raise awareness, share knowledge and drive
improvement on sustainable procurement, not only on March 21 but on 352 days a year.

You will participate in the Climate Transformation Summit, together with SPP colleague Oliver Hurrey. The theme of this Summit is Making it Happen, as we cannot wait anymore to take climate action. How do you relate this theme to your experience in SPP?

Our theme for the WSPD this year is #PledgetoAction, so I think we share a similar idea for
both events and for the path ahead. The journey at SPP starts with the Pledge: subscribing
Ambassadors commit themselves to stand up for people and the planet, to work together to
change the world, to start with themselves, to share knowledge and listen to others, and to
leave the right legacy of protecting a sustainable planet for us and future generations. The
Pledge is all about personal commitment.

At the same time we have identified gaps that hinder the committed Ambassadors to create
tangible impact, and at SPP we are working on closing these gaps by empowering and
equipping them with the knowledge and tools but also on encouraging them to take on
leadership and become agents for change.

If you could share a message to Procurement officers who have not signed the
pledge yet, or don’t think that they have any power to make their company more
sustainable, what would that be?

Impact starts with “I”, and we all have the power to stand up for changes and
improvements. Anyone can be a role model for leadership, for pathing the way by inspiring
others and raising awareness. So my message would be:

“We need you and we must change the world together!”

Our goal is to reach 1 million SPP Ambassadors to unleash unprecedented positive impact on a global scale. It is about community and the sum of all changes; recognizing that everybody has a crucial role to play and that we can all change the world for the better. This is not beyond any of us individually. Every day we make decisions and what we do today matters for tomorrow.

Thank you Thomas for the inspiring interview!

Don’t miss out on his workshop at #CTS2023, and secure your ticket here!

Let’s Make Transformation Happen!