Evaluating the COVID-19 Impacts on Sustainable Procurement: Experiences from the Australian Built Environment Sector

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Caldera, Savindi
Mohamed, Sherif
Feng, Yingbin
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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought global economies to a standstill and created challenges for a variety of sectors, including housing, building and infrastructure. Many business and government organisations have experienced some form of supply chain disruption—either through suppliers going offline, a sudden spike in demand or both. While embedding sustainability in procurement is a powerful tool for bringing about positive change in an organisation’s supply chains, this global pandemic has had a myriad of impacts on these procurement processes. Through focus group discussions with industrial practitioners and government decision makers from the Australian built environment sector, this study presents their lived experiences related to COVID-19 impacts on sustainable procurement. The emergent themes are: (1) the effects of COVID-19 on sustainable procurement, (2) the rapid development of reactive procurement responses and (3) levers for post-COVID-19 sustainable procurement. In order to learn from the challenges related to COVID-19, both government and industry need to re-assess their supply chain risks and determine the supply chain design that will deliver the most resiliency in the event of another large-scale disruption. There are several key levers, including developing reliable, transparent and local supply chains, leveraging innovative tools and digital engineering approaches, creating a coalition between government and industry and assessing risks at multiple levels. This study is the first of its kind to evaluate the COVID-19 impacts on sustainable procurement in the Australian building and construction industries. Government and industry practitioners can immediately apply these actionable recommendations to overcome the impacts of the pandemic and other disruptions on sustainable procurement activities.

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© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Caldera, S; Mohamed, S; Feng, Y, Evaluating the COVID-19 Impacts on Sustainable Procurement: Experiences from the Australian Built Environment Sector, Sustainability, 14 (7), pp. 4163